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Cast announced for June 7 Willow River Cemetery Walk

Lynn Stafford will return to play the role of Jennie Humphrey during the June 7 Willow River Cemetery Walk. (Submitted photo)

The St. Croix County Historical Society will present the annual Willow River Cemetery Walk as part of Yellowstone Trail Heritage Days. The walk is set for Saturday, June 7, from noon to 3:30 p.m. at Willow River Cemetery in Hudson.

The walking tour takes about one hour and will start on the half hour with the last tour starting at 2:30 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $3 for students and children under 12 are free with an adult.

Participants will take a guided walking tour through the cemetery to the gravesites of former Hudson residents where costumed actors share the life stories of the “spirits” of Hudson’s past. In the case of rain the walk will be moved into the Humbird Chapel at the Cemetery.

“We have a great cast of actors who have generously volunteer their time and talent to this enjoyable Historical Society fundraiser,” said Jacki Bradham of the Historical Society.

The actors, and the spirits they portray, are as follows:

--Since his inaugural performance in 2003, retired banker Daryl Standafer has become Hudson’s residential expert on Charlie Ward. Ward was a colorful character whose adventures include his youth as waif on the Seattle waterfront, riding with Pancho Villa in Mexico, serving time at Leavenworth prison, and rising from an entry-level factory job to company chief at Brown & Bigelow in just nine years. Standafer returns with another enthralling rendition of the legendary Charlie Ward.

--New this year, the performance of Catherine Lewis, an Irish immigrant and early Hudson pioneer, is all about family. Catherine’s great-granddaughter, Mary Frances McKay, will bring her spirit to life. Mary Frances, a retired teacher of English as a second language, lives in St. Paul. She enjoys working on family history projects, telling stories, and spending time with her extended family at the farm that was settled by Catherine and Daniel Lewis, located outside of Hudson.

--Lynn Stafford is an attorney from Oakdale, Minn., who, in her spare time, enjoys acting for community theater and photography. Stafford will return for a second presentation of the artistic wife of Herman Humphrey (a judge who was the first U.S. Congressman to hail from Hudson) at the site of the unique and prominent Humphrey family monument.

--Maranda Mahr has performed on many stages across Wisconsin but this is her first appearance in a cemetery. She will portray the spirit of Jean (Jefferson) Penfield the mother of world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield. Mahr currently serves on the board for the River Falls Community Theatre. Although having no paranormal experiences, her current home is featured in Haunted Wisconsin (Parker House Mansion).

--Burton Witthuhn is a man who wears many hats: husband, father, grandfather, Hudson resident, volunteer, Rotarian, Historical Society member, retired university vice president of academic affairs, professor of geography and teacher. Witthuhn will share the life story of the controversial Dr. Boyd Williams, founder of the Williams Cancer Sanatorium in Hudson. Williams was a pioneer in the surgical removal of cancers, but he lived a troubled life.

--Hudson resident Alice Sime is an active grandmother of seven, and has been involved in the community for 43 years. Sime will depict attorney and a teacher, Essie Williams, who was the first female attorney to plead a case before the Minnesota Supreme Court. Essie experienced the gender inequities common in the first half of the 1900s and they left her a bitter spinster who was ultimately disbarred.

The Pearly Gate Singers will greet guests with traditional hymns during the walk and “Guiding Angel” will lead tours groups through the cemetery. There is still time to join the choir (more male singers are needed) and there is room for an additional tour guide. If interested in volunteering contact Jacki Bradham at (715) 386-3826.

Yellowstone Trail Heritage Days information is available on the Hudson Chamber’s Tourism website at under “events” or search for St Croix County Yellowstone Trail on Facebook. Learn about the Historical Society at