Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Experiencing the Alva & Edna Maxwell Center

Experiencing the Alva & Edna Maxwell Center
Young Harris College

It is an awesome experience to stand on ground that those who have gone before you stood. My family and I visited Young Harris College in North Georgia during Spring Break. The Alva and Edna Maxwell Center, a building for business, mathematics, and science, is named after the aunt and uncle of my father.

My father lost his mother, Doris Maxwell, when he was less than two years old. My grandfather, J.P. West, Sr., later remarried. Doris Maxwell and all her siblings went to Young Harris College, where she met my grandfather. He was recruited by a District Superintendent from North Alabama to come to our conference as a pastor. The story is that Doris’ mother ran the lunchroom and was able to put them all through school there at Young Harris.

One of Doris’ siblings became a prominent banker with the Citizens Southern Bank. He and his wife gave most of the money for this building and invited others in the family to donate as well (my father was one who did). This is the building I went to visit.

What an experience it was to walk in and see, near the entrance, the portraits of my Great Aunt and Great Uncle, whose face strongly resembles some of Dad’s sisters. The plaque reads:

The Maxwell Center
Alva G. and Edna Stephens Maxwell

Whose lives have been intertwined with the growth and development of the Young Harris College. As graduates, they have played central roles in the history of the college and the United Methodist Church. We are drawn to them; they are our mentors and they have influenced the lives of so many of all ages and backgrounds. Communication with them is open and truthful, touching on issues, people, ideals and dreams; Always there is the charm, the lively mind, the interests that have no bounds. Theirs is a clear and steady vision. Their lives are eloquent, vigorous and compelling in calling forth the creative responses to meet the problems of our day. If it can be said of any couple that they exemplify the ideal expressed by Matthew Arnold of seeing life steadily and seeing it whole, it can and should be said of Alva and Edna Maxwell. All at Young Harris College are better for having known them.