Estelle H. Maxwell
Estelle Hawkins Maxwell, a resident of Daphne, Ala., and formerly of Long Beach, Miss., passed away Friday, January 4, 2013, in Daphne.
Born in Yazoo City, Miss., Mrs. Maxwell grew up in Jackson, Miss. She began studying voice as a 10-year-old soprano prodigy. The Central High School graduate and second-generation Millsaps College student completed her music and vocal performance degree at Louisiana State University
. She toured as soprano soloist with LSU's a cappella choir and University Chorus and appeared in numerous LSU operatic productions. Mrs. Maxwell also studied at the original American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and with masters at the Metropolitan Opera and Juilliard School of Music. She completed additional graduate studies at The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). Mrs. Maxwell was an initiate of Chi Omega sorority.
While still an LSU student, Mrs. Maxwell made her vocal debut at Carnegie Hall. She toured as a featured artist with the Young Artists Concert Bureau of Memphis and Columbia Artists Community Concerts and was guest soprano soloist with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra, Starlight Opera of Dallas, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and Emory University Concert Series.
Mrs. Maxwell served as choral programs director for the Jackson City School System and music programs supervisor for the Hinds County School System. She later coordinated music education for four Atlanta, Ga., elementary schools and served with the Junior League of Atlanta as a music therapy instructor for Atlanta's school for the deaf. A past four-state province alumnae president for Sigma Alpha Iota national music honorary, Mrs. Maxwell received SAI's prestigious Sword of Honor for extraordinary contributions to musical endeavors throughout greater Atlanta.
Mrs. Maxwell became head of the Gulf Park College for Women (now USM-Gulf Coast) voice department in 1960. She married Mississippi Coast native James Maxwell and lived at Pass Christian's historical "Merrywood" before moving to Long Beach. She was director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis) music department, taught music at Coast Episcopal High School, and was an English, humanities, and journalism instructor at Long Beach High School. Mrs. Maxwell held lifetime Mississippi teaching certification and was a lifetime inductee of Alpha Delta Kappa teaching honorary. Additionally, International Paper Company named her as one of Mississippi's Top 25 Outstanding Teachers.
Active in regional musical, cultural, and civic endeavors, Mrs. Maxwell sang leading roles in Gulf Coast Opera Theatre productions and was a performing artist with the Gulf Coast Arts Council, at the Mississippi Arts Festival, and at France's bicentennial celebration in Paris. She was also artist-director of The Prima Donnas, a women's professional chorale performing across the Gulf South. Mrs. Maxwell served as the Mobile (Ala.) Opera's Gulf Coast regional representative for 22 years and was a Gulf Coast Arts Council advisory board member and past president of the Gulf Coast Opera Salon. She appeared in and directed music for many Gulfport Little Theatre, Bay St. Louis Little Theatre, and Center Stage Biloxi productions.
A two-term president of the Long Beach Friends of the Library and state president of the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc., Mrs. Maxwell served on the Harrison County Library System Board of Trustees and, as a Long Beach Public Library trustee, helped establish the Long Beach Children's Library. She received the Mississippi Library Commission Golden Book Award, the highest accolade accorded a layperson for exceptional commitment to promoting library services. She was a charter member and former secretary of the Gulf Coast Chi Omega Alumnae Association, past secretary of the Long Beach Yacht Club and Goodwill Industries Auxiliary, and past chair of the Gulfport Junior Auxiliary cultural enrichment program. She also received the Kiwanis President's Service Award as an outstanding Kiwanian.
Mrs. Maxwell, a lifelong Episcopalian, was a former soloist at St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, Miss., and a longtime member and former choir director and organist at St. Peter's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Gulfport. She also served as organist and choir director at Trinity Episcopal Church in Pass Christian and volunteered for 17 years as organist at St. Luke's Anglican Episcopal Church in Gulfport.
Mrs. Maxwell relocated to Alabama's Eastern Shore after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her Mississippi Gulf Coast home. She was preceded in death by her parents, Dr. Richard Estelle Hawkins and Anna Belle Craft Hawkins; her brother, Dr. Richard Hugh Hawkins, Sr.; and her husband, James M. Maxwell, Jr. She is survived by her son, Richard Paul Maxwell of Gulfport, Miss., and Daphne; sister-in-law Frances Bickers Hawkins of Biloxi, Miss.; nieces Susan Hawkins Aldrich of Jacksonville Beach, Fla., Amy Hawkins Bickers of Chicago, Ill., and Anne Hawkins Gilbert of Knoxville, Tenn.; and nephew Dr. Richard Hugh Hawkins, Jr., of Gulfport.
The funeral service will be at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, 2013, at St. Peter's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 1909 15th Street, Gulfport, Miss., 39501, with interment at Evergreen Cemetery in Gulfport. A visitation with family and friends will begin one hour before the funeral.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to St. Peter's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church (Music Fund), Long Beach Public Library (Children's Library), or a preferred charity.
Riemann Family Funeral Home, 11280 Three Rivers Road in Gulfport, assisted the family with arrangements. Tributes may be offered at www.riemannfamily.com