On a cold and snowy Easter Sunday, March 29, 1937, our Mom Thelma Ilene (Clary) Maxwell was born. Better known as Max, Mom or Memaw, she was born in Shawnee Ok. to Earl and Thelma (Gray) Clary. She lived in Oklahoma until age 9 when her family moved to Abilene. Shortly after the move her father passed away and her mom Thelma went to work in the kitchen at Hendricks Hospital. Along with her older sister Shirley, Ilene was raised walking (or at times) running the hallways of the hospital. As young as 10 they would wash dishes, or other things to earn their "pocket" money. At age 12 she worked on the 6th floor and eventually worked as a nurse's aide. When she turned 18, Ilene entered the nursing program provide by Hendricks. There she earned her LVN degree. Ilene never knew who paid for her education but always believed it was Mr. E. M. Collier who was the hospital administrator at that time. Ilene always said she was "raised" at Hendricks. Living across the street she was always there, eating meals, working, or just playing. She said it was not unusual for her to be running down a hallway and any number of doctors would step out of a patient's room and swat her back side and remind her to stop running and be respectful. She laughingly would say that she had more "Dads" than anyone as most of the older doctors took an interest in her and Shirley. Ilene worked as a nurse for Hendricks in almost all departments, but 25 years in the Emergency Room. At one point in the 1980" s Ilene was recognized with an employee award. Then, hospital president Mike Waters asked her how long she had worked for Hendricks. She answered, "I'm not sure, off and on since I was 12". Very surprised he reminded her that Hendrick did not hire 12-year-olds to work. She smiled and answered, "Mr. Waters, when I was 12, they did." When the state opened the 2 prison units in Abilene Ilene was hired through Hendricks to head the CID departments at both Robertson and Middleton units. She worked there until her retirement in 2014. Other than short times at home having children, Ilene spent approximately 57 years in nursing in Abilene.
In 1955 she met and married her one true love Bobby Maxwell. Together they spent 48 years living, loving, working, and raising their 4 daughters. 40 of those years were spent on the corner of North 18th Street and Merchant. Ilene always loved that house and loved hosting holidays, weddings, showers, and all kinds of parties there. She was never a social or community minded person, her work and family were what she loved. She passed quietly in her sleep on Christmas Day, 2022.
Mom loved her family BIG. Always there listen, give advice but never to judge. And we as her family loved her BIG, Her daughters, grandkids and yes even the son in laws. She was a GAMER of her generation, (not like these kids today). Mom was always up for games whether it be bowling, pool or a good game of poker. But if you really wanted to see her true colors then play a game of spoons with her! She didn't care who you were she would take you out, if need be, to get that last spoon. She loved to play Yahtzee, and especially these last few years. If you went to her house, there would most likely be someone there playing a game with her. (But she did cheat). Many wonderful memories were made with us 4 girls and our mom taking our trips to the casinos. Whether you knew her as Ilene, Max, Mom or Memaw you knew you were loved.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Earl and Thelma Clary, her sister Shirley McColley, her husband Bobby Maxwell and one grandson Matthew Sites. She is survived by her daughters, Cindy Morris (George), Pam Sites (Kelly), Karen Hamilton, and Debbie Mackey (Eddie). Grandchildren, Mandy Graves (Deon), Tony Morris (Melissa), Cory Morris (April) and Cheyenne Morris. Jeremy Sites (Jesica), Tim Sites, Chris Koonsman (Tina), Marcus Mackey (Kayla), McKenzie Walsh (Jimmy), and Madison Mackey. Ilene was blessed with 21 Great grandchildren and 1 great great grandson and a great great granddaughter on the way. She is also loved and is survived by many nieces and nephews and countless "adopted children" who called her mom.
We can't always choose the music that life plays for us, but we can choose how we dance to it.