Long Beach, CA, November 23, 2010 --(PR.com
)-- The death of Former Senator W. Henry Maxwell, has nationwide prominence, reaching 2000+ miles to Long Beach, California. Former state Sen. W. Henry Maxwell, a longtime political leader and retired pastor of Ivy Baptist Church in Newport News, Virginia, died Saturday, November 13, 2010 at his daughter's home near Detroit.
Sen. Maxwell, 75, died of complications from diabetes and Parkinson's disease. This illness prompted him not to seek re-election in the state's 2nd Senate District in 2003, said his son, Walter Maxwell Jr.
Sen. Maxwell represented Newport News voters for more than 20 years, first with his election to the House of Delegates in 1983 and then to the Senate in December 1992. Twice, the Newport News Democrat succeeded U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, first when Scott was elected to the state Senate, vacating his House of Delegates seat, and again when Scott was elected to Congress.
"He was an effective, hard-working legislator and was a strong voice for the downtrodden," said Scott, whose ties to Sen. Maxwell date back to their service with the NAACP in the mid-1970s. Scott said Sen. Maxwell leaves a three-fold legacy, as a civic activist, minister and legislator.
Del. Flora Crittenden spoke at a foot-stomping, praise-singing memorial service for Maxwell at his former church, where he was pastor for 37 years. The service was in the community center that bore his name, the W. Henry Maxwell Family Life Center.
Ivy Baptist Pastor Kevin Swann, Maxwell's successor, "We are here to pray, honor and support one of the giants in the land." Swann said Maxwell's life is proof that one person can have a great effect on the world.
Newport News Mayor McKinley Price said Maxwell was known for fighting for legislation that would help people get a good start in life or have second chances. "He worked tirelessly for the people who had lost their way," Price said.
Former Newport News Mayor Joe Frank invoked memories of Maxwell's deep, mellow voice. "He wasn't just a pastor, he was a preacher," Frank said. "What came out came from the bottom of his gut …and when he sang, the floor shook."
Rev. Vincent Thomas said that Maxwell's legacy lies in the men he helped mold. "He touched the lives of men. We are hurting. We are struggling. Our mentor is gone," Thomas said. "He taught me that other people don't have to be small for you to be big."
“I was very fortunate to have had him as a role model in my life. He spoke volumes to those around him, even in his silence,” said his niece Rev. Angela Chester, DDiv., a Virginia native, of New Life Pastoral Counseling in Long Beach.
“When you have such an example before you, you’re shown how to view the world. Uncle Henry was the perfect example of an advocate for your fellow man; to remember those in need in your community. He will be remembered - our family will truly miss him.”