Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children

 

'Mom' to Many

The Story of Barbara Alice Maxey


Barbara Alice Maxey"To some, we were the only parents they had ever known," she said with a smile as she began to reminisce about her lifetime of working with Oklahoma’s forgotten children.

For 35 years, Barbara Alice Maxey ministered alongside her husband, Dr. H. Truman Maxey to hundreds of orphaned or abused children at Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children (formerly known as Oklahoma Baptist Orphans’ Home).

By age 12, Alice was an orphan herself. Her father, a Kentucky farmer, died when she was six. Her mother, a seamstress, moved the three children to Bardwell, Kentucky to be closer to family. A few years later, Alice’s mother died after being very ill, leaving the three children to be dispersed among family members.

After much transition, Alice was sent to live with her maternal aunt in Enid, where she graduated from high school and then went on to study bookkeeping at Enid Business College. Upon graduation, Alice went to work at Baptist Hospital in Enid and later worked in bookkeeping for Lucas Furniture. Alice met Truman at BYPU (Baptist Young People’s Union) at church. Truman was a student at Oklahoma State University and would come home from college on the weekends and attend church at First Baptist, where they were both members. He graduated in 1926 with a Bachelor of Science degree and then moved to Jackson, Tennessee where he was enrolled at Union University studying New Testament Greek. During this time, he wrote letters to Alice and their relationship grew. In 1931, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and moved back to Oklahoma to marry his sweetheart.

Alice recalled his proposal. "We were sitting in the parlor at my home and he asked me if I would marry him. I told him he would have to ask permission from my aunt first."

On May 6, 1932, they were married in her aunt’s home.

From 1931 until 1933, Truman pastored at First Baptist, Forgan, and taught elementary school. In 1933 he began serving as pastor at First Baptist, Carmen.

During her first pregnancy (with son Paul), Alice had a lot of sickness and discomfort. She asked Truman, "How many children do you want to have?"

"Enough for a baseball team!" he replied.

Laughing she said, "Well, then you better get a children’s home!"

On January 1, 1935, he did just that.

In his first assignment as the resident manager, he oversaw the 40-acre campus, the children, and the employees. The campus consisted of three dormitory-type buildings, utility buildings, horse and cow lots, orchards, chicken yards and pasture—just five miles from downtown Oklahoma City. At that time there were 135 children at the Home and only eight workers, including the Maxeys. The population grew as Alice gave birth to two more children, Henry and Barbara.

In 1942, Truman accepted the position of associate superintendent and later was named superintendent. In 1956, he became the Executive Director of the Department of Child Care for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and served in that capacity until retirement in 1970.

When asked about the challenges involved in "mothering" so many children, Alice said, "I always felt that as the wife of a minister I was to help him in his calling. He felt called to those children—so that’s what we did."

Alice said the children liked to call them "Mom Maxey" and "Pop Maxey." Close relationships between the children and the Maxeys were formed, as many of the children spent the majority of their childhood at the Home. Even after the children left, they would still call and come back to visit Alice and Truman. "It was really special…they still wanted us to be a part of their lives—at their graduations, at their weddings…"

"My favorite part was watching a child grow up to be a man/woman that gave back a worthwhile contribution to the community," said Alice. "…Worthy Christians and citizens—that’s what I always wanted for the kids."

After retirement from the Children’s Home, Dr. Maxey began working as an estate planning consultant for The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma and for thirteen years served Oklahoma Baptists in helping them prepare their wills and trusts. The Maxeys established their own trust with the Foundation, along with a gift annuity which will both benefit Oklahoma Baptist causes.

"Oklahoma Baptists had done so much for us," said Alice. "We wanted to continue the work that had blessed us."

"We felt that the Foundation was the safest and most secure option. Over the years, I have been very pleased with the service I’ve received," said Alice.

Alice knows that God used her personal situation as an orphan, to later minister to children who had been left behind or neglected. "I always had a strong love for children who were orphans…I always wanted them to have the best life and best opportunities that they could."

With many years of experience of mothering many children, Alice advises young parents to live out their lives the way they would want their children to live. "Trust in the Lord to lead you as a mother," said Alice. "I don’t see how parents raise their children without the Lord being in it."

Alice Maxey gave her life to loving the unloved. She gave up a "normal" life of home and family to give a family to hurting children.

"When people would ask us, ‘How many kids do you have?’ We would respond, ‘We have three of our very own, and hundreds that we’ve adopted.’"

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