Courtland applauds Maxine Nowlin

Published 2:39 pm Saturday, January 26, 2019

Community leader Maxine Darden Nowlin was taken aback to open the door of the Courtland Community Center and find dozens of family and friends calling out “Surprise!”

“I’m about to cry,” Nowlin told everyone as she was recovering, and then said how she got steered to this place, rather than the movies as was initially planned by a friend, who also insisted she also get her hair and makeup done first.

“‘Why are we coming to the center,’” she wondered. Then pointing to me, “I knew something was up when I saw the Tidewater News reporter walk in,” Nowlin continued with a laugh. “This is a wonderful surprise. I thank all of you. This is really … .”

She joked again, “Raise your hands if you lied today [about this program]” Indeed, four or five people acknowledged their willing participation.

“All the people that I love and the people who love me are here,” Nowlin continued. “Thank you so much for your love and support.”

This is not the first time the normally modest Courtland resident has been lauded. In 2016, she was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Lambda Nu Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

As was then noted, “Nowlin is a person who liberally gives her talents, time, energy and professionalism to enhance the lives of people in her local community and surrounding areas through the Courtland Community Center.”

She herself said at the time that, “My family were all community people — it’s in our DNA. My grandfather was always an advocate for people. They always came to him for whatever. My mother was busy in PTA and organizing trips. She was an organist for churches. She even had a club — the Esquire Club — for young people.”

At the most recent celebration, Nowlin was seated with family as person after person came up to either sing or share their memories of her.

Pastor Yolanda Buck said, “I love her with my whole heart. She is one of a kind — ‘more precious than rubies.’ She is a person you can trust. She is a pillar.”

Pastor Alvin Boone of Eternal Life Church said that it’s better to be kissed than ask for one.

“Maxine, you have been kissed today. We love you so much.”

He added that somebody’s got to follow in her footsteps. That person is in this room somewhere. “I thank God for her spirit.”

James Whitfield recalled that he and Nowlin grew up together in the same neighborhood, and that she was quite the tomboy then.

“She’d kick your butt on the basketball court and laugh about it later,” he said, laughing himself. “I think that she can walk on walter. She could get money [for the community] that I could not. Maxine did things I can’t explain.”

The children’s playground right outside the center is one example.

“From the bottom of my heart, I say we couldn’t have come this far without you. We say ‘Thank you.’”

Maurice Darden, her brother, recalled that Maxine was “Just like out mom. She really cares about other human beings.”