Courtland, VA

The Town of Courtland loses a life & a legend

Stephy Says
Maxine nowlinPhoto byCooperative Living

Pillar (noun) pil·lar: a supporting, integral, or upstanding member or part, synonymous with MAXINE.

In the small homey countryside, pillar & Mrs. Maxine are interchangeable.

Tragedy struck Southampton County recently as the Town of Courtland loses her as a towering stature of strength in the community.

Maxine Nowlin, a name that rings loudly in the community, in the town‘s history, & the heart of residents & neighborhoods nearby. Care, culture, compassion, Christianity, & community were values instilled into the youth & adults that crossed the path of Mrs. Maxine, & she did it all in the name of education. She was much more than a community center director, she was the neighborhood mother, aunt, grandma, & safe haven.

The legend standing in front of history as pictured above is heartwarming, especially since the community center she restored is paramount to the history of the town. The Courtland Community Center was once a Rosenwald School for black children during days of segregation. The relaunch of the center remained a place of education as she offered tutoring sessions for children that needed a little extra help, guidance, or a place of peace.

Whether it was after-school tutoring, summer programs, grant writing workshops, storytelling, initiating conversations to challenge your thinking, testifying in service, participating in games with kids, or leading the Courtland parade as the Grand Marshal, Mrs. Maxine opened her heart, her ears, & even her pockets to make an impact in the lives of everyone she met. She invested in the youth, especially those of color, to bridge the gap & to ensure that they didn't slip through the crack of any system--the education system, the health system, or the legal system.

Many black young men credited her for being the reason they didn't become incarcerated at a young age. In their words, "she was the reason a lot of us from Courtland, didn’t turn victim to the system." Her center prevented them from engaging in criminal activity.

She made a conscious decision to be the leader of contributing to the community, & she did so without being asked. Her genuineness & purity wouldn't even allow her to have the desire to be placed in the spotlight. She didn't want recognition, she wanted reconstruction in the culture & the community. She was the change she wanted to see. In short, she was simply Mrs. Maxine, a servant.
Mrs. MaxinePhoto byTiffany Wyche

In 2019, Mrs. Maxine adorned the front page of the local newspaper under the headline, "Courtland applauds Maxine Nowlin." The article written by Stephen Cowles captures Mrs. Maxine's surprise, love, & appreciation as the community gathered together to honor her & thank her for opening the doors of the community center. The article reflects that "This is not the first time the normally modest Courtland resident has been lauded," & made mention that in 2016 she had been awarded "Citizen of the Year by he Lambda Nu Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc." Recognition of her character was made known in the article, "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.” (Source: Tidewater News) Many years later & even in her death, we still applaud Mrs. Maxine.

She is described by parents & former youth as the epitome of the song "Wind Beneath My Wings" & "the voice of the community." Those that worked with her called her a "woman of wisdom, strength, courage & faith." Neighbors call her "one of a kind" & the entire community witnessed her acheive things or complete tasks that no others have been able to do.

"Ms. Maxine Nowlin … as a kid in Courtland she always wanted the best out of you and for you. From my days in church, VBS and just in the community in general. Her impact has touched so many generations in Southampton County 📷...One of the best to ever do it" -Jonathan Hendrick
Thank you for absolutely everything from the every part of my heart. You invested in us in ways we probably couldn't even imagine. You gave us love that we didn't even know we needed. You made sure we had what we needed and you wouldn't stop until you found it. I grew up in your program. Came back to the Rec as an adult and hope to give back as least an ounce of what you gave to us. I hope I made you proud....You were the community. You was love. You was joy. You was what faith looked, walked and talked like. You was everything and more. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16...Thank you for instilling that in us. Thank you for caring about our salvation..." -Chalsea, Natural Flo
Mrs. Maxine full of lifePhoto byMarshay

Under her leadership, the community gained a new playground set, an evenly paved basketball court, a paved track, a community garden, a makeshift computer lab, an outside water fountain, & much needed building renovations. She spent an exorbitant amount of time relentlessly writing & receiving grants to keep the center thriving.

She was just easy to gravitate towards. She had a belly full of laughter & a heart full of love.

Mrs. Maxine was a lifelong learner that taught us taught how to lead, how to live, & how to love.

Thank you to her children, for sharing your mother with us!

The community will NEVER be the same, but her character, kindness, contributions to Courtland & the county will live on forever.

Mrs. Maxine's legendary memory will be celebrated on Saturday, March 18, 2023, at 12:00 P.M. Please keep Southampton County, particularly Courtland, in your thoughts & prayers as they this troubling time.
Mrs. MaxinePhoto byTidewater News

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