Obituary: Shirley Maxwell

Loving wife, mother, friend and dedicated CUSD employee

Shirley Maxwell lived her life filled with love of family and friends and died surrounded with that love on January 23 at the age of 83.

Born Shirley Ann Skaggs on September 22, 1935, in Flat Rock, Illinois, she was one of four daughters to Lawrence and Rosemary Skaggs.

She married Maurice Clark Maxwell in October 1954, joining a large and strong midwestern family whose grand scale reunions continue to this day. Shirley and Clark started their family in their hometown in southern Illinois. Sons Steve and Doug were born in 1956 and 1958, respectively, and daughter Shelley in 1960.

On Thanksgiving day 1962, the family began their journey to Southern California. Moving to California turned out to be one of the happiest decisions in Ms. Maxwell’s life. She quickly fell in love with The Golden State and its beaches, where she found solace, renewed energy, and enjoyed sunbathing and extended family beach and camping trips.

The Maxwells raised their children in Claremont, and they all attended Claremont schools.  Steve’s son, Aaron, continued in that tradition, attending Oakmont Elementary, El Roble Intermediate, and graduating from Claremont High School.

Ms. Maxwell’s  contributions to students, staff, parents and the community during her 37-year career with the Claremont Unified School District were a source of great pride. Her service to the district began in 1967, when she was hired as a teacher’s assistant in the science department at El Roble.

Throughout her career she was integral to CUSD’s support system. She comforted children at Oakmont and Vista Elementary schools, encouraged the physical development of students and assisted in special programs for students at Condit Elementary, managed the clerical operations at Claremont Adult School and in the school office at Sycamore Elementary.

For 10 years prior to her 2003 retirement she managed the classified personnel clerical operations at CUSD’s human resources office.

Her valued support to district administrators is evident in that each of her career moves followed a move by an administrator with whom she had previously worked. The pattern of her career history is profound: once experiencing the talented support she provided, administrators knew she was a treasure to invite into a new role. She was gracious, caring and dedicated to her work in CUSD her co-workers shared.

“But, mostly, she was giving,” they added. “She made every person who came into her world feel special.”

She loved holidays, especially Christmas, deriving joy from creating and finding special gifts for friends and family, then, wrapping them beautifully. She also loved music. Among her favorite musicians were Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Dean Martin and Andy Williams. 

Fitness and fashion were also among her passions. She enthusiastically participated in 5K and 10K walks and runs, enjoyed daily walks and loved aerobic exercise. Her pleasure in dressing well was fun to anticipate, her family said.

The excitement of world travel intrigued her, and she enjoyed many cruises with her daughter, Shelley. Their adventures took them to Mexico, the East Coast of the United States, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. She later traveled with friends to the Bahamas, Cancun and New Zealand.

She maintained her grace, dignity, and her precious nature throughout her many years of illness, her family said. They are most grateful to the wonderful caregivers who loved her, helped her to laugh and sing songs, and continued to take her on daily walks in the park. They are truly heroes, her family added.

She was predeceased in January 2018 by her son, Doug; and in May, 2017 by her sister, Charlotte Skaggs Zuziak.

She is survived by her husband, Clark; son Steve of Claremont, and grandson Aaron of Rialto; daughter Shelley of Las Vegas; daughter-in-law Judith; granddaughter Natalie and her children, Max and Clare; grandson Ian, his wife, Rachel, and their daughter, Charlie Rose, of Upland; sister Mary Lou and her husband Larry Surells of Palestine, Illinois; and sister Beverly Kay and her husband, Gerald Cox, of Robinson, Illinois.

A celebration of her life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 23 at the Woman’s Club of Claremont, at 343 W. 12th St.

Several retired CUSD administrators have suggested a contribution in Ms. Maxwell’s memory be made to Claremont After School Program at, or by check to CLASP, 1111 N. Mountain Ave., Claremont, CA 91711.

“Shirley was deeply loved by her family, friends and coworkers, whom she considered friends,” her family shared. “That love is defined by her response, whenever she was told she was loved, which was, ‘I love you more!’ Shirley was our sunshine and is with Doug, giving him hugs in heaven. God bless the wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother of the Maxwell family.”


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