When a friend or family member was in need, Maxine “Mickey” Wold was quick to help out – with a listening ear, a pot of soup, a prayer, a foot rub, a visit. She helped with whatever was needed.
“Mom was very giving, very selfless,” said daughter Teri Munson. “She was one to get involved and play an active role and not sit idly by.”
Wold died Nov. 21 at her Spokane Valley home. She was 82.
When an elderly friend was in a car accident, for example, Wold arranged rides to the doctor and organized volunteers to bring meals. When someone she knew had a death in the family, she’d go over and pray and dig in to help however she could, said Munson.
When her daughter Judy Nielsen’s husband died in October, just a month before her own passing, she went over and tended the flowers in Nielsen’s garden, weeding and deadheading and preparing the garden for winter.
“It was cold and windy,” said daughter Candy Donaldson. “She didn’t come through the house. She knew that Judy had a lot of company. She was going to do something invisible out back – doing something she knew Judy needed done.”
Wold was known for making heart- and body-warming pots of soup, simmered with love and delivered at just the right time. The soup might arrive when a friend or family member had returned from vacation and didn’t have the makings of a meal or when someone she knew was sick.
“She did things on the spur of the moment because that’s what she knew we needed,” said Munson.
“What sticks out most in my mind is that anyone went to her for any reason,” said Donaldson. “She helped everyone … The day she passed away she was taking a meal to someone.”
“She was always here and a true friend to everybody,” said longtime friend Florence Ring. “You could call her 24/7 and she was ready to pray.”
Ring described a time when she was struggling with worries and couldn’t sleep. It was 2 or 3 in the morning and she called Wold. “She prayed with me and I was able to go to sleep … when Mickey was your friend she was true-blue.”
Wold’s comforting touch was literal, too. Certified in reflexology, she soothed away all sorts of ailments with her healing hands through foot massage.
“I’d lay on the floor and put my feet up and she’d do reflexology,” said Ring, noting that besides feeling good the treatment helped several different physical issues she’d had. “She solved a lot of my problems.”
Once, as a joke, Wold wore a sign saying she’d do reflexology for food. But her treatments were so popular then the joke was that she didn’t need to buy groceries.
Known for her perpetual optimism and ability to see the good in people and situations, Wold matched her nickname. Named Maxine at birth, one year at a church summer camp the kids dubbed her Mickey because her cheerfulness reminded them of Mickey Mouse. The name stuck.
Wold was also a woman of action, especially in the car.
“She had a lead foot,” laughed Ring. “She was like a galloping horse. She didn’t go slow and she was on the run, always happy. She got more done in a day than many do in a month.”
Volunteering often, Wold helped at the clothing bank, sang and taught at her church, Valley Open Bible, and was an active member of the Women’s Auxiliary at the Union Gospel Mission. She used her boundless energy to help others.
“She drove fast, always in a hurry to get to the next mission,” Munson said.
“It was important to her to portray Christ to others,” said Ring.
“She went to bed, no doubt, praying for us,” daughter Judy Nielsen said of the night her mom died.
Wold passed on those Christian values to her family, along with her cheerful work ethic, Nielsen said, describing how her mom showed them by example the Bible verse in Colossians that says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”
She exhibited a blend of work ethic and cheerfulness developed during a childhood of poverty and hard work.
“Because it was a large family and they were poor, they all had to pitch in,” said Nielsen.
As a child Wold traveled with her parents and nine siblings from Missouri to California so her father could look for work and she talked of all but the youngest kids getting out to push their truck up the hills during the journey.
“Our family never went camping because our Mom grew up very poor. Her family lived in a tent ’til she was about 5 or 7 years old. So, she knew firsthand what poor felt like,” said Donaldson.
Wold’s parents couldn’t afford doctor visits so when she cut her finger as a child they tried to treat the infection at home. But when the infection ran up her arm with blood poisoning they took her to the doctor. He was able to save her arm but she lost all the muscle in the finger and it atrophied, making it crooked.
That finger became a symbol of her firm but loving discipline to her five children.
“She would raise that finger and you knew,” Munson said with a laugh, describing Wold pointing her finger at them even from around a corner.
A former kindergarten teacher, preschool teacher and the founder of ABC-Ville, a Spokane Valley daycare, Wold showed that same firm love to area children since the ’60s.
“She was good with kids,” said Ring. “She was very strict but very loving. … She would feel for them and care for them like they were hers.”
Up until her last days Wold still substitute-taught at ABC-Ville, now owned by her son, Emery Wold.
“While Mom was alive, at any one time, ABC-Ville could have had four generations working on one shift,” said Donaldson. “The same can probably be said that ABC-Ville has had many generations from one family who have come through the doors of ABC-Ville as children, parents and grandparents. We are so fortunate to have this heritage.”
“She’d sit on the little chairs and tell and read stories. It was a treat to her,” Munson said.
And while Wold was always looking for needs she could meet, that too was a treat to her. Even her e-mail address included the words, “helping hands.”
“I always thought God must talk to her direct,” said Ring. “She always knew where the need was. She was always helping people.”