Don Maxam, a sociology professor in the early 70s until the late 90s, served Central for 26 years. While at Central, Maxam was department and division chair. Now he and his wife, Elsie, are retired in Maryland and enjoy spending time with their grandson. He thinks about his time at Central frequently and misses teaching and interacting with students and faculty.
“I really miss the people more than anything else,” he says. “People make my life go round and it’s not the surroundings, cities or storms. It’s the people I miss most.”
In his spare time, Maxam enjoys playing croquet and he does a lot of reading—including reading the “Washington Post” every morning and the alumni bulletin. Maxam likes to read about past students, faculty and staff and what they are up to now.
“I wonder a lot about students,” he says. “I read Civitas with interest to see if I know some people and to find out what they are doing.”
Q & A
Q: What is your background?
A: My father was a pastor so we lived in a variety of places and it was never longer than seven years in one place, so I became really adaptable. I grew up in the Reformed Church and I went to the sister college of Central, Hope College in Michigan. I went out for football, but I never made the team, which was fine with me. After I graduated from college I went to Iraq as a short-term missionary. I taught English and coached sports there. I went to seminary school and I was a pastor for five years and that’s when I got interested in the Civil Rights Movement and social justice. I was very interested in religion and society, which turned out to be sociology. I ended up actually having more courses at the university then at the seminary. Then, I came to Central.
Q: When were you at Central?
A: I came in 1971, and I retired in 1997.
Q: What did you do at Central?
A: I taught sociology, and I was department chair and division chair.
Q: What did you like most about the sociology department?
A: Oh, I enjoyed the students. I liked interacting with them and enjoyed seeing them learn.
Q: What do you miss most about Central?
A: I miss people, faculty, students and the athletic programs.
Q: What are your favorite memories of Central?
A: Well, I think it is the people that I interacted with who have been really meaningful in my life. Also, I have a lot of favorite memories of some of the administration and faculty members. I have favorite memories of students!
Q: Do you still live in Iowa?
A: No, I live in Maryland, just outside of Washington D.C. and for three months we go down to Florida. I really enjoy Florida and the comfortable weather.
Q: Is there anything you miss about Iowa?
A: I really miss the people more than anything else. People make my life go ’round and it’s not the surroundings, cities or storms. It’s the people and that is what I miss most and what is most meaningful to me.
Q: What do you do currently?
A: Well, it takes me a long time to read the Washington Post everyday. I do a lot of reading, and I play croquet.
Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: I like to read and we came out to Maryland to be with our grandson who is now eight years old.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: Well, I was thinking of a few students I had at Central and wondering what had happened to them. I still have very fond memories of students, but have lost contact with them. I wonder a lot about students. I still maintain contact with a lot of the faculty here on the east coast. We are actually going to get together and talk about old times. I read Civitas with interest to see if I know some people and to find out what they are doing.