On Friday, August 5 the Kiwanis Club of Lynchburg will host their 1st Annual Max Meador Shrimpfest on the campus of VES. It's an exciting endeavor and a lot of work - we are scrambling to make sure everything is in place for the event. In the midst of juggling ticket sales and social media and signage - I ran across a picture that one of our members sent me of Max. And I felt like spending a few minutes reflecting on the person that we are remembering as part of this Friday's festivities.
You see, I only knew Max as a Kiwanian. I was part of a group brought into the club about five years ago and Max was one of those who warmly welcomed me. He was one of the first to greet me at meetings and once I started editing the club's e-newsletter, Max went out of his way to compliment every issue (even the ones that weren't my best work). I knew him as a friendly and pleasant man. But I didn't know the whole story.
When my nephew was getting ready to start school at Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville - I found out that Max was an alumni (I knew several of the club members were - but somehow had missed the fact that he was). Class of 1958 - he fell in love with Latin and earned his Masters degree. He and I probably would not have bonded over a love of Latin. Although I took Latin for three years in the Amherst County school system - I barely made it out of Latin III with a D. I remember one phrase: Agricola est puer - which I believe translates to "the farmer is a boy" or "the boy is a farmer." And I can conjugate the verb Amo (amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatus, amant). But we certainly did share a love for words and language and proper grammar.
When the club lost Max on December 22, 2015 I learned a lot about his life from his obituary and the VES community. I learned he was "VES' beloved faculty advisor, senior master, Latin teacher, baseball coach, and administrator for 43 years." Baseball coach?
Yes, a whole new layer of Max that I didn't know. And that is an area that I heard about recently from a lovely lady who called me to get tickets to Shrimpfest. She told me all about how her daughter had served as an assistant coach to Max because she couldn't play due to an injury. The doctors had warned her that any more competitive sports and they wouldn't be able to do any more for her knee. She told me about how working with Max had been so rewarding for her daughter. You could hear the love and admiration in her voice.
I get that - being around Max Meador you always felt like the most important person in the room. He made you feel like a visiting dignitary or Rhodes scholar. He just had that way about him. I miss that. And when we recite our guiding statement at the beginning of each club meeting: "Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers, dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time." I say (along with a few other stalwart fans), "So help me Max." (Something a member started long ago, which always made Max chuckle.)
And I smile...and remember...and smile again.