Willie Mae Maxey

    A memorial service celebrating the life of Willie Mae Maxey has been set for Saturday, September 7th, 2:00 p.m. in the chapel of First Baptist Church, Greenville.  Willie Mae Flowers Maxey, “Mama Maxey”, of Greenville, MS, died August 18, 2013 at her home after a lengthy illness.  Arrangements are under the direction of Boone Funeral Home, Greenville.
    Mrs. Maxey, the eldest child of the late William (Bill) and Etta Sanderford Flowers was a native of Rolling Fork, MS. She graduated from Rolling Fork High School in 1944 and subsequently attended Sunflower Junior College in Moorhead, MS.  She married the late Thomas Maxey in August of 1945 and they made their home in Greenville, MS in 1946. 
     Mrs. Maxey served as Assistant to Washington County Home Demonstration Agent Velma Hunter in the early 1950’s and served as the President of the Emmett Thomas Home Demonstration Club for five years.  In August of 1956 Mrs. Maxey became the Supervisor of the Greenville Cemetery, a position she held until May 3, 1995. Mrs. Maxey was dedicated to her job and to the cemetery and could frequently be seen working along side her crew of four men, mowing grass, trimming hedges, and doing whatever she felt was necessary to keep the cemetery a beautiful final resting place for those buried there as well as a beautiful place for their loved ones left behind to visit.
     In July of 1995, Mrs. Maxey became the first paid manager of the E. E. Bass auditorium, now known as Jake and Freda Stein Hall. Mrs. Maxey served as the auditorium’s rental agent and was also responsible for the auditorium’s cleaning and maintenance. The duties associated with the operation of the auditorium were not new to Mrs. Maxey, as she had been volunteering at the facility since 1989 when the Bass building became the new home of Delta Center Stage.  Mrs. Maxey’s strong work ethic was witnessed by anyone who ever rented the facility as she kept the aged facility immaculate and was always on hand to assist in whatever capacity was necessary. Advancing age and a decline in her health forced her retirement as manager in 2005.
     Throughout her lifetime, Mrs. Maxey was known to be the consummate “multitasker” and seemed to have an endless supply of energy.  She was a devoted wife and mother. While her two children were growing up she was active in the public schools Parent Teacher Associations and served as president of both the Ella Darling and Matty Akin Elementary School PTA’s.  She was an active member of the Band Auxiliaries for E. E. Bass Junior High School and Greenville High School Bands from 1960 to 1968 and served as a band trip chaperone for both schools from 1959 until 1970. Her husband’s favorite hobby was hunting and she supported his hobby through her love of cooking. During Mr. Maxey’s two terms as president of the 35 member Spanish Moss Hunting Club #2 in Arkansas, Mrs. Maxey served as the hunting club’s cook.
     She volunteered many hours in support of the national campaigns of the Easter Seals Society, American Cancer Society, and National Lung Association.  She had a ‘gift’ for working with the handicapped and served as a volunteer for the Greenville Cerebral Palsy School during its existence in Greenville. She had also been a provider of cakes and cookies for the local March of Dimes Telethon volunteers and enjoyed assisting with the table decorations for the local Red Cross Chorus dinner theatre productions. She was a member of the Greenville Pride committee, and helped with the selection of residences to receive the city’s “Yard of the Month” award. She was a member of the Alice Bell Garden Club and the Emmett N. Thomas Chapter of the Eastern Star.
     In August of 1994 she was named as a Delta Point of Pride by the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce. She received the “Angel Among Us” award from WNIXX/WIQQ Radio, WXVT-TV 15, and The Delta Democrat Times in February of 2001.  She also received the Greenville Honors its Own “Lifetime Contribution to the Arts” Award in 2005.
     She was a member of Second Baptist Church for 61 years and served as a Sunday School teacher for the primary grades department for over 15 years.  She joined First Baptist Church in 2008 and enjoyed studying the word of the Lord with 18 other members of the Encouragers Sunday School Class.  She was an enthusiastic participant in First Baptist Church’s Senior Adult Ministry, and served as one of the group leaders in the Forever Young Club.
     Mrs. Maxey’s support of Greenville’s arts organizations spanned 50 years. She was a volunteer for Twin City Theatre and Delta Center Stage and had served on the Board of Directors as Treasurer of both organizations. She volunteered for the Greenville Symphony Association and was proud to have served as a “Go-For” for the late Kenneth Haxton when he was mounting musical productions or concerts for the Symphony. She continued her support of the Symphony after his demise by supplying home baked cakes and cookies for the numerous musicians participating in the Symphony’s annual fall concert. She had been an enthusiastic supporter of the Delta Music Association as well. Her love of children naturally led to her involvement with Delta Children’s Museum.
     Mrs. Maxey’s years of symphony and community theatre involvement began in 1963.  It was at that time that the late renowned Greenville artist and sculptor Leon Koury dubbed her “Mama Maxey.” While doing some volunteer ‘housecleaning’ at the theatre, Mrs. Maxey overheard the set painter, Mr. Koury, exclaim that he “…hadn’t had a decent meal in weeks.” Mrs. Maxey returned to Twin City the following evening, and offered him what she hoped he would find to be a “decent meal” that she had prepared. Mr. Koury obviously enjoyed that meal and he claimed it was as good, if not better than food his own “mama” had served him in his childhood. Mr. Koury also claimed he doubted he could remember her name, Willie Mae, and said from thence forward he would just call her “Mama Maxey.” The nickname stuck, and generations of theatre enthusiasts, community volunteers, and friends called her “Mama” for the rest of herlife.
     Mrs. Maxey was happiest when she was doing for others. She claimed her only talents were cooking, cleaning, and seeing after sick or needy individuals, and she generously shared those talents with individuals and organizations during the 67 years she resided in Greenville.
     She was preceded in death by her husband Thomas, in 1992, infant sons Thomas Earl and Lawrence Wayne in 1949 and 1952 respectively, and her son John Allen in 1979.  She is survived by her daughter, Mary Frances Maxey of Greenville, sisters Betty Blackmon of Brandon, MS, Dorothy Ritter of Baton Rouge, LA and a host of cousins, nieces, and nephews.
     The family would like to thank her internist Dr. Barry Gillespie and the staff of the Greenville Clinic as well as Dr. John Louwerens and Grace Hospice staff members Kathi Miller, Julie Peyton, Terry Ramsey, and Heather Womble. The family is especially grateful for the loving and compassionate care provided regularly by Grace Hospice caregivers, Registered Nurse Angela Jackson and Certified Nurse Assistant Chara Johnson.
     In her final act of service, Mrs. Maxey donated her body to University of Mississippi Medical School. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Delta Center Stage, P.O. Box 14, Greenville, MS 38702, or The Greenville Cemetery Association, 353 West Reed Road, Greenville, MS 38701.