Obituary: Reitmeier, Maxine Isabelle (Potts)
REITMEIER, Maxine Isabelle (Potts) Passed away from natural causes on March 18, 2013, in a local hospital at the age of 94. She was the fifth of eight children and was born at Lamont, Washington, on March 20, 1918, to Jack Potts and Eva (Porter) Potts. Maxine’s father was a farmer who had little formal education and emigrated from Ireland when he was 14 years old. Before marriage, her mother was a teacher who had moved from North Dakota to teach in Eastern Washington. Maxine’s birth was slightly untimely. She missed the agricultural boom years of WWI and grew up during first a drought and then the Great Depression. The Pottses survived mostly because they could raise their own food and the bank did not foreclose. Maxine helped her mother churn butter, cook, and care for the younger children, among other tasks. She and her mother informally mapped out a plan to improve Maxine’s life, based upon the principles that education is critically important and that it is necessary to save for a rainy day. Women at that time were defined more by what they were not allowed to do than by what they could do. Maxine was one of a generation who changed that. She graduated from high school and then from Cheney Normal School with a two-year degree as a teacher. That enabled her to teach in a one-room schoolhouse at Sunset, Washington. Believing that more education would enable her to produce better results, Maxine went back to college, by then called Eastern Washington College, and obtained a bachelor’s degree. This enabled her to work in the Spokane Public Schools, where she taught in elementary schools, primarily at Balboa Elementary School. Eventually Maxine’s interest in education led her back to Eastern, where she obtained a master’s degree. She then worked as a counselor for the Spokane School District, primarily at Emerson Elementary. She absolutely loved teaching and counseling young students. To Maxine, any problems that a child had were simply a challenge for her to help overcome, and the more the merrier. She was always gratified to hear years later from students who thanked her for making a difference in their lives. Maxine met Elbert Reitmeier at a Grange Hall dance during the late 1930s. She liked him a lot, but she had a problem. Teachers at that time were not allowed to marry. So they dated for about five years until World War II called Elbert. Then they felt they had to make a decision, so Maxine and Elbert told friends and family they were going on a picnic at Coeur d’Alene. They did have a picnic, but they also secretly married. Elbert went into the army, Maxine continued teaching, and no one knew the difference. This truly became a case of balancing the demands of career and life! When Elbert returned from the war, teachers were no longer prohibited from being married. Elbert and Maxine bought a house and later had another home built on North Oak Street in Spokane. In the meantime they adopted two daughters, Vickie and Julie. Eventually they also had a granddaughter, Angela, and two great grandsons, Jeremy and Bradley, who also became the beneficiaries of Maxine’s love. The family had two cabins on Hayden Lake over the years. To learn the ultimate standard for caring for homes, lawn or gardens, one had only to drive by Maxine and Elbert’s home or cabin and take a look. Between raising their daughters, caring for their homes, putting on family functions, taking trips, and attending musicals and plays, Elbert and Maxine had full lives. Somehow, though, Maxine was always available for friends and family, no matter how young or old. Elbert passed away in 1994. Maxine continued their legacy, spending time with and caring for her family, friends, and home and participating in activities with her church and teaching sorority. Maxine’s philosophy is aptly described by the following quotation, which she hung on a wall in her home: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change those things I can and wisdom to know the difference.” Although Maxine’s friends and family were of course saddened by her passing, they consider themselves lucky to have known and learned from her. Maxine was, simply stated, a great example of the Greatest Generation. Maxine was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Elbert; brothers and sisters Bill Potts, Les Potts, Dan Potts, Tom Potts, Evelyn Sanders, and Louise Dolan. She is survived by her daughters, Vickie Bennett and Julie (Chris) Morgan; her granddaughter, Angela Hinton; great-grandsons Jeremy and Bradley; brother, Homer Potts; and many nieces, nephews and cousins. Maxine’s family offers special thanks to the staff at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center; to Elisa Nickoli of Touchmark on South Hill; and to Maxine’s cousin, Sue LaRue, all of whom assisted and comforted Maxine during her last illness. Maxine’s funeral services will be held on Saturday, April 6, at 11:00 a.m. at Audubon Park United Methodist Church, 3908 N. Driscoll Boulevard, Spokane, WA. Memorial donations are suggested to the Elbert and Maxine Reitmeier Scholarship Fund at Audubon Park United Methodist Church in Spokane.