With heavy hearts, we embrace the passing of our leader, author, and friend, Maxine Bersch-Lovern. She passed away last Sunday afternoon, September 13 at the age of 101. The family will have a graveside service Monday, September 21 in Richmond, VA. A memorial service will be held in October. An obituary will be available at that time.
A longtime friend and fellow church library trainer, Pat Brown, shares her recent memories of Mackie with us:
Remembering Maxine Bersch
Maxine loved life and God gave her 101 years to enjoy it. Maxine loved people, and all of us who knew her felt that love. Maxine loved words. She loved God’s Word and often spent hours searching the Bible for just the right Scripture passage to share through storytelling. (As in her Esther monologue.) Maxine loved teaching and anyone who sat in her classes went away with a new understanding of the art and importance of telling a good story.
My favorite “Maxine Memory” took place at a hotel in Dallas several years ago. We had been leading library conferences and everyone else had returned home. We spent one more night in Texas before we each flew home the next morning. We decided to have a 5:00 dinner in the hotel dining room and get a good night’s sleep before our early flight. When we entered the dining room, there was a display of the most tempting desserts I have ever seen. With her memorable giggle, Maxine said, “Let’s just have the salad and dessert bar for dinner so that we have room for one of those luscious desserts!” It sounded like a plan to me!
So we were seated and Maxine began telling a story about her childhood in West Virginia. Her mother was often a part of the story. Her stories were always warm and personal when she talked about family. As she talked, we drank coffee and sampled more than one of the wonderful desserts. Maxine would laugh and say, “Which do you like best? I don’t think I have ever had pineapple filling in a fresh coconut cake!” So the cake and coffee and storytelling continued until one of us checked the time. It was 8:00. Maxine began to laugh! “Do you mean we have been eating dessert and talking for three hours!” Yes, we had. With long breaks from the dessert table while Maxine continued to tell her story, we would return to the desserts for one more “sample.” The three-hour dinner (dessert party) was always mentioned when Maxine and I were together after that.
Last October, Maxine phoned my home around 3:00 in the afternoon. She said, “Frank (her son) and I are on I-40 about three hours from Nashville. We have been home to Richmond and are on our way back to Texas. I told him we can’t go through Nashville without seeing you and Robert. Will that be convenient?” I replied that she could stop only if they agreed to have dinner with us. And so they did. The four of us enjoyed a wonderful time together as we shared a meal and Maxine’s stories. She had celebrated her 100th birthday earlier in the year, but her mind was still filled with wonderful stories to share of how God had blessed her. Her laughter still punctuated every sentence.
I am thankful God blessed me with one more dinner with Maxine—but I can’t remember what we had for dessert!
Pat Brown serves with the Crievewood Baptist Church library in Nashville. She served for many years with the Church Library Department at the Baptist Sunday School Board and as director of the LifeWay Library until retirement.
Those of you who knew Mackie are invited to share your memories through the comments here.