Maxine Marshall: Grace Notes

In Remembrance and Tribute

I had the good luck to get to know Jonathan and Maxine Marshall well, albeit in their last decade. Last summer, it was with sorrow that I read of Maxine’s death while I was out of town. She is sorely missed! She was—and they were—great-hearted people, good friends of ASU, and of the Department of English’s Creative Writing Program.

They were generous supporters of the arts and, more broadly, of beauty. Phoenix enjoys the Marshall Butterfly Pavilion each spring thanks to them; there is a room devoted to the Marshall Gift at the Phoenix Art Museum; and last fall, best-selling author Jane Smiley read at ASU for the Marshall Lecture. I learned of Maxine’s deep humanity and kindness—and humor—when I arrived here fourteen years ago and the Marshalls invited my husband and me to their home in Paradise Valley.

Yikes! What to wear?

I decided on business-casual silk slacks (at the time my only pair), but the hem was falling and I hadn’t unpacked my sewing kit yet because I hate to sew, or more charitably, I didn’t have time to sew, so I pinned up the hem with safety pins I thought well-hidden and off we went. Of course, I forgot myself, and sat with my leg out and Maxine looked down, saw the PINS and exclaimed, Oh, is that a new fashion from the East coast? Speechless, I looked with horror. And then she turned to Jonathan and said, I would do something like that, wouldn’t I, darling? And then she turned to me: We’re going to be great friends! And squeezed my hand. And so we were.

In the garden of Maxine’s world-
heart, butterflies light on her hands,
her giving hands,
a lifetime’s dowering:
I’ve lived a charmed life.

Her hands cup peace,
bear munificence,
spread fairness and equity:
Jonathan and I were determined
to do good in the world. 

Summer enfolds the butterflies
drifting on a breeze in the garden
of Maxine’s world-sized heart
as she turns to you and says,
Friend, here’s more light for you. 

Cynthia Hogue, Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry
September 2015

Editors' Note: Maxine Marshall, journalist and philanthropist, passed away on June 17, 2015. She was 89.

Photo of Maxine Marshall courtesy Robert Marshall.