All the letters Hallie Stone Maxon wrote to her future husband during World War II were packed up in a trunk and, on his way home, lost.
But she kept his.
This one is from May of 1942.
Was glad to get your letter this morning, pink envelope and all. Finn’s party sounded real good. Had a letter from him a short while ago enlightening me on current conditions in Pinellas County.
Things are more or less in a turmoil. It’s quite authoritatively rumored that a whole raft of 1st Lieutenants are to be promoted to Captain any day now. The rumor has it that they are coming way down the list and almost to me…
Last night went out to the club and stood around for an hour or so losing nickels in the slot machines. The place is sorta dreary now with such few cars around. Lotsa work to do, etc.
Got a letter from Mom – states that Punk did okay in the class play – the letter is enclosed.
Everyone is milling around getting ready for the show, so I guess I’ll join them.
Miss you terribly
All my love, Maxon
Pandemics bookended Hallie Stone Maxon’s life. Wars shaped it. Remarkable change wove through it.
She died May 4 of congenital heart failure. She was 104.
One week each January, the cousins, nieces, daughters and granddaughters from her side of the family came to Florida for a vacation and listened to their matriarch’s stories as they drove through Clearwater.
“So and so lived here and such and such tore this down and built this,” said niece Ann Chandler.
Maxon was born in 1918, the year a deadly flu pandemic swept across the country. At 13, she moved from Greenville, South Carolina, to Clearwater. She graduated from Clearwater High School at 16. At 20, she graduated from business school. Throughout her young life, Clearwater was growing and changing.
“She walked across the Belleair Country Club golf course when Babe Ruth was in a tourney there,” said daughter Debbie Geffrard. “She was an original ‘Young Singles’ member of Carlouel Yacht Club in the late ‘30s. She went to Sand Key well before there was a bridge.”
And during World War II, Maxon was a member of the Civil Defense Association, where she met a young Marine, Glenn Maxon, who wrote her letters for the next several years.
They married in 1944, lived in 12 different cities and had five children before settling back in Clearwater. Maxon eventually worked with her husband, who became a real estate developer, keeping books. She kept that task up until she was 103.
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Maxon loved chocolate and convertibles. She wrote letters and remembered generations’ worth of details about the lives of her family and friends.
“When you talked to her, she was listening to you,” Geffrard said.
“She was that person that knew not only their child and kept up with them, but the children’s children. They would come visit her when they came to Florida,” said niece Chandler. “She was just a really true delight.”
In the 1980s, Emily Collie started working for Maxon. The two became best friends, said daughter-in-law Melissa Collie, and their families became each other’s families.
“She was there for everything with her,” Collie said.
Maxon outlived most of her contemporaries. But she stayed active, taking gardenias to friends, visiting neighbors, getting her nails done.
The coronavirus pandemic came in the last few years of her life. Maxon kept busy by taking walks and playing games with Geffrard and her family, by then living with her.
“Later in life, I think she taught me to be patient,” Geffrard said. “As things slowed down for her, she just decided that what was important really was health and family and doing good for your friends and family.”
Poynter news researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this story.
Correction: A man was misidentified in a photo caption. It is Warren Maxon. It has been corrected.
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