On Tuesday, April 25, the solar eclipse seemingly arrived four months early. The sun disappeared for Dr. Terry C. Maxwell’s family, friends, students and colleagues the day he passed from this life.
Maxwell knew he had been chosen for the Outstanding Retired Faculty Award this year and reacted with typical humility.
“He said, ‘Well, I’m honored, but I’m sure you could’ve found somebody better,’” said Kimberly Adams, director of development and alumni services.
A San Angelo native, Maxwell had deep bonds with the area’s natural history and people. He earned his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from Texas A&M University, but earned his master’s degree in biology at Angelo State in 1974 and taught at ASU from 1976-2014.
Dr. Russell Wilke, interim chair of the Biology Department, had the whole “Terry Maxwell experience.” He was Maxwell’s student, colleague and then supervisor.
“Terry was one of the best teachers I ever had,” Wilke said. “He was student-centered long before it was a buzz word.”
“I had several students tell me over the years they’ve had several pivotal moments in Terry Maxwell’s office,” said Dr. Loren Ammerman, professor of biology. “After talking to him either about their plans for the future, or maybe they had a ‘Dad’ talk with him that might have changed the trajectory of their lives.”
Storytelling was Maxwell’s gift for connecting, and his book, “Tales of a Journeyman Naturalist,” is filled with his adventures. He could also make people laugh, even if they disagreed with him or gave the wrong answer, for which he happily gave “demerits.”
“He would use his hands to put a tick mark on an imaginary piece of paper,” said Dr. Michael Dixon, associate professor of biology. “It was almost a matter of pride if you said or did something that got Terry’s attention and earned a demerit.”
Another of Maxwell’s talents was drawing. His chalkboard sketches are being preserved in the Biology Department, and he often included sketches with the nature column he contributed to the San Angelo Standard-Times.
Maxwell’s contributions to individuals, the Biology Department, ASU and the community will be remembered as reflections of the profound love he felt for the Concho Valley. Through them, we can see how brightly he still shines.