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Columbia Missourian

Ruby Maxwell found joy in reading, volunteering

By Marcie Veit
October 2, 2013 | 6:49 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Ruby Maxwell worked as a reference librarian for the MU Engineering Library from 1967 to 1983. Her late husband, Hugh Maxwell, also worked for the MU Engineering Department.

The two would commute to work, back and forth together, and eat lunch together. They also shared the same friends within the Engineering Department.

"Our parents were both in mechanical engineering in the same building for the last 16 years of their careers," her daughter, Dr. Lyn Maxwell Allee, said.

Ruby Hartley Maxwell died Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, of a stroke. She was 97.

She was born in Audrain County on Dec. 17, 1915. She graduated as salutatorian of Sturgeon High School.

She moved to Columbia in December 1933 and married Hugh Maxwell on Dec. 2, 1941. He had been drafted to serve in World War II and had to leave for Jefferson Barracks the day after their wedding.

When he got out of the service in 1945, the couple moved to Chicago so Mrs. Maxwell's husband could attend trade school.

They later moved back to Boone County and purchased five acres of land in Deer Park, where they raised their children.

"Dad and mom were around us all the time," her son Bill Maxwell said.

When they returned to Columbia in 1962, the couple worked in the MU Engineering Department.

"Their relationship was one of a marital partnership, business and community. They seemed to always be together," Bill Maxwell said.

Mrs. Maxwell retired as a reference librarian in 1983.

She volunteered at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and at Meals on Wheels. She offered her time until 2000 when she moved into the Terrace Retirement Community in Columbia.

"She always took care of other people and spared everyone any pain and discomfort," her son Phillip Maxwell said.

Faith was also an important part of Mrs. Maxwell's life. Mrs. Maxwell taught Sunday school for about 30 years at Calvary Baptist Church and was active in the adult choir.

"She was a Christian in the best way, always caring for people and never being judgmental about people," Phillip Maxwell said.

One of the things her children remember fondly about Mrs. Maxwell was that her hair remained its natural hair color throughout her whole life.

"She would become amused if someone suggested she colored her hair," Bill Maxwell said.

She had lost her eyesight in recent years, which bothered her considerably because she loved to read. She read the newspaper even when her eyesight had gotten worse, and she needed a magnifying glass to read the paper.

She especially enjoyed newspaper comics and cartoons. She loved the newspaper as a whole, Allee said, and had been a newspaper subscriber her whole life. 

The last time Lyn Maxwell Allee talked to her mother was three days before the stroke. They were laughing about a cartoon in the newspaper.

"She had a great sense of humor," Allee said.

Her children said they feel fortunate to have had Mrs. Ruby Maxwell as their mother.

"We picked our parents well. It was the two of them bringing us up and prepared us for our life," Bill Maxwell said.

Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Parker Funeral Service, 22 N. Tenth St. Services will follow at 11 a.m.  at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery, 1217 Business Loop 70 W.

Mrs. Maxwell is survived by three sons, Bill Maxwell and wife, Marcia Bates, of Fort Wayne, Ind., David Maxwell and wife, Donna, of Jefferson City, and Phillip Maxwell and wife, Theresa, of Kirkwood; daughter, Lyn Maxwell Allee and husband, Thomas Zarick of Cleveland, Ohio; sister, Elizabeth Brown, who lives in Lenoir Woods Senior Services Living Community; eight grandchildren, Dana and Max Zarick, Alek and Parker Maxwell, Frank, Robert and Mike Cade, and Vincent Houtari; and eight great-grandchildren.

Her husband, Hugh Maxwell,  and a brother, Robert Hartley, died earlier.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Calvary Baptist Church at 606 Ridgeway Ave., Columbia, MO 65203, or to Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, 1 Hospital Drive, Columbia, MO 65212.

Condolences can be posted at

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.