New Statue in Manistee County Honors James Earl Jones and Mentor Donald Crouch

New Statue in Manistee County Honors James Earl Jones and Mentor Donald Crouch

James Earl jones Michigan Statue Kaleva Norman Dickson School

One of the most iconic voices in Hollywood belongs to James Earl Jones.¬†You know him as the voice behind Darth Vader in the Star Wars films or Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King, or as Mr. Mertle in The Sandlot, Terence Mann in Field of Dreams, or Thulsa Doom in Conan the Barbarian, but did you also know this legendary actor has roots in Michigan? A recently unveiled statue in Brethren honors Jones and his mentor Donald Crouch, an English teacher who helped Jones overcome his stutter by encouraging him to read his poetry aloud. We recently had the chance to visit the “Mentorship Can Be Lifechanging” statues in front of Kaleva Norman Dickson Public Schools, and it was great to learn about James Earl Jones’ history in northern Michigan!

Mentorship Can Be Life Changing James Earl Jones Michigan Statue

A plaque by the statues reads: “Mentorship Can Be Lifechanging – James Earl Jones, noted thespian and film actor, credits his teacher and mentor Donald Crouch with helping him find his voice. As a young boy James did not speak fluently because of a sever stutter. His high school English teacher challenged him to read a poem he had written in front of the class. James found by memorizing the poem he could speak without stuttering. James often credits Mr. Couch’s mentoring as a key to his success in high school, at the the University of Michigan, at the Ramnsdell Theater, and as a factor in his later accomplishments; including, the 2017 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theater. Norma Dickson High School, now Kaleva Norman Dickson School is where James Earl Jones was mentored by Donald Crouch.”

James Earl Jones Donald Crouch Statue Brethren Michigan

“The Arts and Culture Alliance of Manistee County contracted with sculptor Bernadette Zachara-Marcos of Honor, Michigan, to complete this work which was dedicated on October 14, 2023.” The bronze statues show Jones standing and speaking while a seated Crouch looks on.

James Earl Jones Statue Brethren Michigan List of Mentors Tribute

A second plaque lists the names of more than 100 mentors: ” The mentors here were nominated because of their positive influence of the nominees lives. Their stories are proof that “Mentorship Can Be Lifechanging.” As part of fundraising efforts for this project, donors could put $100 toward the project and have the name of a mentor that had an impact on their life included on the plaque.

James Earl Jones Mentor Donald Crouch Statues Brethren Michigan

We have enjoyed the work of James Earl Jones for many years and it was amazing to think we may never have seen his many great performances if it wasn’t for the mentorship and encouragement from his high school English teacher Donald Crouch.

Kaleva Norman Dickson Public Schools James Earl Jones Statue

Kaleva Norman Dickson Public Schools is located at 4400 N. High Bridge Rd. in Brethren.