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MAXINE AMELIA THURSTON-FISCHER


1939 - 2014 Obituary Condolences
MAXINE AMELIA THURSTON-FISCHER Obituary
THURSTON-FISCHER MAXINE AMELIA THURSTON-FISCHER, age 74, passed away on February 23, 2014. Throughout her life, Maxine s many exceptional accomplishments have been recognized and admired: receiving her Doctorate in Social Work; her lifelong work in civil-rights and health policy; her leadership roles at some of Miami s major civic organizations; and her many years of church and community service. Praise for these things is well deserved. Still, none can capture the singular attraction of Maxine s unique personality and strong character. She was clearly her own person, always following her instincts, while at the same time seeking affirmation through her faith. An unyielding perseverance and deep thoughtfulness marked her every move. Maxine filled the home she shared with her beloved husband, the neurologist Kenneth C. Fischer, with beautiful furnishings and a unique collection of African heritage art. As with all she touched, Maxine and Ken s home conveyed her essence and exceptional taste. Maxine s interests were many: classical music, football, movies, books, shopping, fine dining and good gossip a list whose vast range underscores the charm of her personality. A beautiful and glamorous woman, Maxine also developed a very original and well-known flair for fashion, with a particular emphasis on jewelry, eyeglasses and shoes. By finding true love in their mature years, Maxine and Ken were an inspiration to each other and to all those who seek the same. Ken doted on Maxine, never glancing her way without a smile. They loved every minute of their time together, whether simply enjoying dinner out or traveling to their home in Santa Fe. Perhaps one of the fondest memories family and friends will hold dear was Maxine s joyful laugh and beautiful smile, which could and did light up a room. Above all, she was a kind and loving woman who embraced all who entered her life. Maxine was born in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 30, 1939, to the late Edythe and Maxwell Thurston. She was raised in Fernandina Beach. As one of Indiana University s first African-American students, she graduated with a B.S. degree in Social Welfare in 1960. Continuing her education at Florida State University, she became the first black student to be admitted to the College of Social Work and the first black student to graduate from the university, earning her MSW in 1964. Two decades later, she joined the inaugural Social Work Ph.D. class at Florida State, completing her doctorate in 1987. With her husband, Dr. Fischer, Maxine established a major legacy for first-generation, low-income students in the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement at FSU. In 2012, she was honored at FSU s 50th anniversary celebration of integration. At her passing, Maxine served as president and chief executive of The Thurston Group, a consulting and management firm for research, program evaluation and organizational development for human services agencies. She founded the firm in 1986, displaying her usual initiative, confidence and pluck. With little capital, Maxine rented an office and ordered business cards. Under her leadership, the company became remarkably successful, and had a major impact in bettering the community. Her firm took on projects at the local and national levels on youth violence prevention, youth drug prevention, comprehensive child development, shelter services for domestic abuse victims and numerous other topics. Maxine was also an associate professor at Barry University s School of Social Work from 1981 through 2008. Later, she continued to serve as the major professor for students completing the doctoral program there. Her past employment included positions as Executive Vice-President, Urban League of Greater Miami; Executive Director, Houston-Galveston (Texas) Area Health Systems Agency; Executive Director, Miami Bridge; and other early-career roles with the Children s Service Bureau of Miami and the Florida State Department of Public Welfare, where she was the first and only black staff member. Maxine served on the Board of Trustees of Jackson Memorial Hospital, United Way of Miami-Dade and North Shore Medical Center. Her other appointments included Board of Directors for the Human Services Coalition (Vice-Chair), Foster Care Review, Florida Network of Youth and Family Services, Health Council of South Florida (Chairperson), Public Health Trust, Dade County Fair Elections Campaign Committee, Dade County Rape Task Force (founding member), Mental Health Association, Children s Psychiatric Association , as well as many other organizations. Maxine was a long-time member of the Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church, where she served on the Budget Committee, and was very devoted to her church family in all respects. She was also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Tau Chapter. Maxine is survived by her husband, Dr. Fischer. Devoted relatives include her brother Maxwell Thurston; her nephew Paul Thurston and his wife, Jackie, and their two children, Kastine and Jeremy; and her brother-in-law Bruce Fischer and his wife, Elin. Many close friends and associates deeply mourn her passing, as do the youth she mentored. Maxine never let her illness define her, always living life to the fullest and ending on notes of grace and love for all who were blessed by having had her in their lives. May all those whose lives were touched by Maxine s wisdom, kindness and love be inspired by her beautiful spirit and her trail-blazing efforts to overcome injustice in all its forms. Memorial donations may be made to the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE), Academic Support Fund No. F06490, FSU Foundation, 2010 Levy Avenue, P.O. Box 3062729, Tallahassee, Florida, 32306-2739. Graveside services and internment will be held Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 10:00 A.M., at Bosque Bello Cemetery, 1320 North 14th Street, Fernandina Beach, FL, 32034, near the entrance of Historic Old Town Fernandina Beach. Maxine s family would like to thank, with gratitude, the many friends and associates who graced her final days with their prayers, visits, flowers and compassionate presence by her bedside. Please sign Dr. Thurston-Fischer s guestbook at www.abcoleman.com. Arrangements entrusted to: A. B. Coleman Mortuary, Inc., 5660 Moncrief Road, Jacksonville, FL 32209, (904) 768-0507 Please Sign the Guestbook @ Jacksonville.com
Published in the Florida Times-Union on Feb. 27, 2014
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