I was saddened to hear of Mrs. Maxie Oakley's death. I also received a portion of her love and care for those of us in ministry. When returning to Durham in March 1988 to begin work at DUMC, I lived on the second floor of Mrs. Oakley's home. March Madness was upon her house as she kept a constant vigil at the television, rooting for, of course, Duke.
Occasionally, she would come to the stair and call my name. I knew when this happened that I was in for a special treat. Ice cream and strawberry shortcake were often offered along with conversation about the Duke basketball team. The likes of Mrs. Oakley will not soon be experienced.
I cried when I read the letter about Maxie Oakley in the Spring 2004 Divinity. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the hospitality of her good friend Mrs. Annie Wheeler from 1989 through 1992. Maxie was in and out of our house visiting Mrs. Wheeler, and Mrs. Wheeler would go over to Maxie’s home. Maxie was the Duke fan, while Mrs. Wheeler at least pretended to be a Carolina fan to tease both Maxie and her own son. Annabell, as some of her friends called her, would put on her Carolina sweatshirt to watch the game with Maxie and come back with tales of how they teased each other throughout the game.
From time to time, Annie Wheeler treated us with her corn bread, crock-pot beans, and other goodies. She taught me to wash collards in the washing machine before cooking them. She got me interested in basketball again because she would call us from our studies to see at least the last few minutes of the Duke game on TV. Of course, ’91 and ’92 were very exciting years, as well as ’90, when they almost made it!
To the best of my knowledge Mrs. Wheeler still lives in a retirement home in Durham. She, too, was blessed with the gift of hospitality. There are not enough words to fully convey what she meant to me and others with whom she shared her home. Neither of these ladies got rich off what they charged us to live with them. It truly was a ministry that should be celebrated. I know I was blessed to have benefited from their generosity, for it was Maxie who convinced Mrs. Wheeler to open her home to those of us who were so warmly welcomed.
With Memories of Christian Love,
Sally S. Plowman D '93
Do you have memories of someone who provided Christian hospitality during your student days at Duke Divinity School? Send us your reflections by e-mail or post to the addresses below.
The profile of Professor of Biblical Interpretation James M. “Mickey” Efird in the Spring 2004 issue of Divinity should have
stated: “Efird has taught many who have gone on to be United
Methodist bishops and district superintendents.” We regret the error.