Remarkable lady lived a remarkable life

Friday, March 19, 2004

Side by side with her husband, Frank, Maxine Morrison walked through the pages of American history in the 20th Century.

This lady -- this marvelous lady -- had so many important milestones in her life. She and her husband were overnight guests in the White House during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, and his wife, Lady Bird. Maxine and Frank met face to face with Indira Gandhi, and they were in Washington as special guests for the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.

Maxine Morrison lived her life with elegance and grace, traveling in the most illustrious of circles. Even so, for her friends and neighbors in McCook, the thing we will miss most is the way she lived life on a daily basis.

Maxine Elizabeth Hepp Morrison, who lived in McCook from 1942 to 1955 and again from 1997 to her passing Thursday evening, was an inspiration to us all.

As her daughter, Jean, said: "She was my role model. Not only was she a fabulous homemaker and mother, but she maximized her talents outside the home as well."

In her years here and earlier in her married life in Frontier County, Maxine epitomized the best of what had been and what was to come. She accomplished so much, balancing home life with a series of work and volunteer achievements.

Take, for example, her run for Congress in 1968. Just a year after her husband, Frank, completed his third term as Governor, Maxine embarked on a race for the 2nd District Congressional seat in Nebraska. She won the Democratic nomination handily, and came within one percentage point of unseating the incumbent, Glen Cunningham. The record books will have to be checked for sure, but veteran news people and family members say this may have been the first time a woman ran for a congressional seat in Nebraska.

As important as the congressional campaign was, it represented only one of the many important roles fulfilled by Mrs. Morrison. She led Nebraska's first trade mission to Europe, striving -- successfully -- to encourage Europeans to visit "Nebraska: Where the West Begins." She also sang at two World's Fairs -- the ones in New York and Seattle -- and was a national board member of the Arbor Day Foundation.

Her son, Jon, who has spent considerable time with his mother and father in the past few years, expressed appreciation to the McCook community for being so kind and gracious to his parents. "It has been great, not only for Mom and Dad, but for my brother, my sister and me to spend time in McCook," he said.

In his book, "My Journey Through the Twentieth Century, Maxine's husband, Frank tells of Maxine having her fortune told at a carnival when they first met in North Platte in 1935. "She will never be rich, but will always have enough," the fortune teller said.

At the end of Maxine Morrison's earthly life, we respectfully disagree with the fortune teller's prediction. Maxine Morrison was rich -- very rich -- in the things that really matter: family, faith and the pursuit of excellence. We will miss her terribly, but are so very glad she lived in this state and in this community.

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