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Helen "Maxine" Campbell

Maxine Campbell knew the value of hard work

Maxine Campbell knew the value of hard work

October 12, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Helen "Maxine" Campbell, who died Oct. 3 at the age of 87. Her obituary was published in the Oct. 6 edition of The Herald-Mail.

Many who knew Helen "Maxine" Campbell over the years shared a common description of her as a woman of quiet strength - but not too quiet.

Maxine's daughter, Dinah Young, said her mother's character and demeanor were shaped by the tough times in which she grew up.

"When she was 6, mom moved from Dundalk, Md., to her grandfather's farm on Miller's Sawmill Road," Dinah said. "She was an only child."

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Walking long distances to school was commonplace in those days, and Maxine often talked about that very matter of factly.

Eight years later, Maxine moved to Sharpsburg as a teenager and her heart never left.

A worker all of her life, Maxine got a job baby-sitting and house cleaning for a family at Snyder's Landing making $3 per week.

There was a stint at the Williamsport Silk Mill in 1939, then a long run - 22 years - at Martha Washington Candies in Hagerstown. Her last eight years of employment were spent at Katy O'Connell's dress shop.

But while she was involved in that work and raising her two children, Dinah and Jerry, Maxine also was serving her adopted town of Sharpsburg in a variety of capacities.

Maxine served on the town council, was chief elections judge for 15 years, and was active in the American Legion and the Sharpsburg Rescue Service, which she helped form in 1968.

In 1976, Maxine became tax collector for the town - a job she kept for a little more than 20 years.

In a 1997 interview when she bowed out as tax collector, Maxine said retirement might have been a step away from work, but it wasn't keeping her away from the Sharpsburg community.

"I don't want to sit and ponder," Campbell vowed 21 years ago. "I like people. My jobs throughout life have always been with people. Community service will be one of my main objectives."

Maxine and Robert, her husband of nearly 58 years, got off to a somewhat shaky start after they first met at Bender's Tavern in Sharpsburg.

"He wasn't a Sharpsburg boy and my grandmother didn't approve," Dinah said.

Life was hard when Dinah and Jerry were growing up.

"Jerry and I used to walk the railroad tracks and collect coal," Dinah said. There also were many forays into the fields and woodlands around Sharpsburg looking for wood for kindling.

But Maxine always made sure her children were in when the streetlights came on, went to Sunday school each week and learned all of the other lessons necessary in life.

"She led by example," Dinah said.

While Maxine was working at her many jobs, Dinah and Jerry would clean the house and keep the grass mowed.

"She also taught me how to cook," Dinah said, sharing her famous recipe for red velvet cake.

There was no shortage of love and caring through the years as the family grew to include grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"We were a very close family," Dinah said.

Occasions, big and small, would find the extended Campbell family gathering at Maxine's or at Dinah's home in Hagerstown.

Maxine also loved eating at her favorite restaurant, The Airport Inn, and Dinah said she made her last trip there in March with her family around her.

Toward the end of her life, Maxine was in assisted living and later, a nursing home.

"Dad was up and down the road every day to see her," Dinah said.

Talking with her mother every day is something that Dinah said she will miss the most. Dinah's friend, Donnie Butts, said he always will remember how appreciative Maxine was for anything done for her.

Young at heart until the end, Maxine often was said to be happiest when she was around young people - family or otherwise.

"Someone at church once said that she was the only older person in Sharpsburg who didn't fuss about the kids and their skateboards," Dinah said.

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