OBITUARY

Col. Hugh Durwood Maxwell Jr. USAF Ret.

May 22, 1916July 2, 2017

Col. Hugh Durwood Maxwell, Jr., USAF-Ret., 101, of Altamonte Springs, FL passed away on July 2, 2017. He was a loved and respected father, brother, brother-in-law, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend. Hugh was born at home on May 22, 1916 to the late Hugh D. & Sadie Tyndall Maxwell in rural Duplin County near Pink Hill, NC. He was delivered by his grandfather, John Flavius Maxwell, the local doctor, assisted by his father H.D., who later became the first licensed male midwife in NC. Hugh skipped 7th grade and entered high school at 12. By the time he was 13, he had been issued a driver's license to drive a school bus, and at 15 was elected President of his senior class in 1932. As he said, "I was a pretty big fish in a very little pond." When he set off for the University of North Carolina at 16, everyone assumed he would attend medical school and return as Young Doctor Maxwell, but, to their dismay, he decided to major in Journalism. After college, he returned home to help his father and worked a while on a local paper, but could see that war was looming. Hugh learned of the Flying Cadet program in 1939 and by January 1941, after surviving the training, pinned on his pilot wings and Lieutenant bars and opened his first set of orders--Orlando Air Base. With the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, his year in paradise came to an abrupt end, as they took the train to Phoenix to pick up their brand new Billy Mitchell B-25 bombers, flew them to Long Island, NY and started anti-submarine patrols over the North Atlantic in January, 1942. Later in 1942, he took over a longer-range, four-engine B-24 Liberator and flew the “southern route” down to Natal, Brazil, across the Atlantic to Dakar, Senegal and north over the Atlas Mountains to Port Lyautey, French Morocco, where he and his crew flew convoy escort and anti-sub patrols. In August 1943, he and two German Focke Wulf 200 four-engine bombers locked in mortal combat over a convoy and all shot each other down, a story featured in the May 2015 issue of the Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine ("World War II's Oddest Dogfight"). In 1944, Hugh returned to the States and instructed on the new B-29 Super Fortress in Clovis, NM. After the war, he stayed in the Air Force, intending to keep flying. Instead, he was assigned to The Pentagon in 1946, where he met and married Helen Jean Ragsdale of Williamston, SC, in 1947. Their first child, Suzanne, was born at Bolling AFB in Washington in 1948. Assigned next to Pepperrell AFB in St. John’s, Newfoundland, young Hugh D. III “Maxie” was born in 1950. Although Hugh stayed on flying status, he spent his career as an Intelligence Officer. He returned from Newfoundland to the Pentagon, and in 1957 after completing the Air War College, was sent to Tokyo, returning in 1960 to the Pentagon yet again. In 1964, he was assigned to the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center in St. Louis, MO. After a serious auto accident in 1966, Col. Maxwell retired in 1969 to his original duty station--Orlando, Florida, where they had a house built in Glen Arden Heights in which they both lived the rest of their lives. Hugh and Helen traveled extensively after retirement, visiting friends and family all over the world. They were active in community affairs and volunteer work for many years until Helen’s death in 2009 at age 86. Hugh remained active and engaged with the assistance of his amazing mind and trusty computer, and in recent years became a minor celebrity when he was able to fly a restored B-25 at the age of 99. (https://youtu.be/JPOXwaQ_EUQ) On his 100th birthday, at a ceremony downtown, Mayor Jacobs proclaimed it “Hugh Maxwell Day” in Orange County. In just the last few months, he was contacted by the granddaughter of one of his B-24 crew, who shared with him photos he had never seen of their time in North Africa and their rescue at sea. He died at home in his easy chair, attended by his loving son, Maxie. Hugh was preceded in passing by his parents, his wife, Helen, and his sisters, Ruby, Violet and Rose. He is survived by his daughter, Suzanne Maxwell Perini (Michael) of Woodland Park, CO; son, Hugh D. Maxwell III of the home; sister-in-law Betty Volkert of Spring Hill, FL; grandchildren, Taggart Maxwell Bradbury (Mary) of American Fork, UT, Katherine Maxwell Downey (Ryan) of Ft. Myers, FL, and Megan Maxwell Bertsch (Ryan) of Gainesville, FL; great-grandchildren Taggy, Wendy, Maisey, Anna and Brad Bradbury all of American Fork, UT, and William Maxwell and Jay Royden Downey of Ft. Myers, FL; as well as a host of other nieces, nephews, relatives and friends. A memorial service will be held on Friday, July 14, 2017 at 12:30 with a memorial gathering to follow at Maitland Presbyterian Church, 341 N. Orlando Ave., Maitland, FL 32751. Inurnment with military honors will follow at Glen Haven Memorial Park, 2300 Temple Drive, Winter Park, FL 32789. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made in memory of Col. Maxwell to the 93rd Bombardment Group Association at 995 Cottonwood Lane, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601 (Attn: Jim Lux). Donations will benefit the establishment of the “Hot Stuff Memorial” in Iceland commemorating the B-24 “Hot Stuff,” which crashed on its way back to the States to begin the barnstorming tour which the “Memphis Belle” completed. Among those killed was Gen. Frank Maxwell Andrews, namesake of Andrews AFB, who was to be given the job of Supreme Allied Commander. http://b24hotstuff.wikispaces.com/

Services

  • Memorial Service Friday, July 14, 2017
  • Fellowship Friday, July 14, 2017
  • Committal Service Friday, July 14, 2017
REMEMBERING

Col. Hugh Durwood Maxwell Jr. USAF Ret.

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Terrie Stockline

July 14, 2017

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that counts. It's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Bj Price

July 10, 2017

The Colonel was a priceless gem, a Tar Heel born, a Tar Heel bred. He was one of Carolina's finest. I enjoyed meeting him and learning about his amazing life at our Orlando Carolina Club Game Watch parties. He will be missed. Good-bye and Go Heels!

July 9, 2017

Our tears are flowing freely as we try to imagine this world without Hugh. The times my family and I spent with Hugh, Helen, Suzanne and Maxie in Japan, St. Louis, Alexandria and Arlington were a joy.
Dot Jefferson and family

July 9, 2017

"In the end, it's not the years in your life that counts. It's the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln

Colonel Hugh Maxwell certainly had the greatest life in those many years!

I had the honor of meeting the Colonel in 2011, so for me it's only been a few of those years. But in those few years, it was easy to get a true glimpse of the husband, the father, the grandfather, the friend, and the man and the inspiration he was to all. He will be greatly missed but his warmth, kindness, and strong yet gentle spirit will live on forever and with all of us.

To the Maxwell Family, thank you for the opportunity to meet and get to know such a wonderful man, and may there be comfort in knowing that someone so special as Colonel Maxwell will never be forgotten.

Peter Sepe
Flagler Beach, FL

Sharon Roshek

July 9, 2017

Suzanne and Mike,
What a wonderful man with an amazing life!! Praying for you all this week!

Sharon Roshek

Dena Maxwell

July 7, 2017

Pere, in your incredible 101 years you touched so many people with your wisdom, humor and love. I know your little bride met you at the pearly gates with a smile and a kiss. Rest in peace. You are loved and honored by all who knew you. Love, Dena

Terry VandeVelde

July 7, 2017

My family and I had the privilege of living diagonally across the street from Hugh and Helen Maxwell for 46 years. Our children, Steve and Carol, enjoyed dog-sitting for "Henry" when the Maxwell's were out of town many, many years ago! Fond memories for us all. They were a wonderful couple, excellent neighbors and friends. Hugh and Maxy were so kind to me and my family when my husband died Sept 2015. They were an asset to our community and will be missed by all who knew them.

Trina Marson

July 7, 2017

What a wonderful man. I have many childhood memories of him and was fortunate enough to see him about 10 years ago at my Aunt Bit's 90th birthday celebration. I always called him Uncle Hugh, but he was actually my Daddy's cousin. He was a good man and will be missed by so many. However, he is already celebrating his new life with his precious Helen and so many other friends and relatives who have gone to the glorious wonderment of Heaven before him. Deepest condolences to his family here on earth that will miss him deeply.

Jim Volkert

July 5, 2017

Uncle Hugh epitomized what has been called "Our Greatest Generation". What a marvelous path he walked from his days as a young man in Pink Hill, to his journey to UNC, a school he loved so much, a stellar military career and of course his love and devotion to his family. He was a man who's sense of truth, honesty and integrity impacted all around him, and made us all better people. He will be missed by all but never forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers to all the Maxwell clan on your loss.

Bob Holt

July 5, 2017

Cousin Hugh touched many lives through his amazing 101 years. His life was incredible and his presence was just as incredible. Sir, we thank you for your service and being who you were. Diana and I well miss you, sir.