Maxine Wakefield Nebeker         Mini Bio



Maxine Wakefield Nebeker

Born April 7th, 1919, on the birthday of her 2nd Great grandfather, Levi W. Hancock, Maxine grew up in the small Mormon settlement of Taylor, Arizona.  The town had only one family that was not LDS and they were a little Catholic family from Mexico.  Her father, Lansing Ira Wakefield, was an Arizona Cowboy who ran cattle from the east side of town all the way up to the Petrified Forest on the northeast.  He also served as her ward Bishop.  Her mother, Rhoda Jane Perkins Wakefield, raised nine children, including a set of twins just older than Maxine (Marva & Maurice). 

Maxine graduated from the 8th grade at Taylor and then went on to the Snowflake Academy (High School) in the neighboring town about two miles to the north of Taylor.  Here, she graduated as valedictorian of her class of about twenty students at age 18.

After high school, she attended Gila College (now Eastern Arizona State Univ.) in Thatcher, where one of her best friends was the daughter of Spencer W. Kimball, who was then serving as her Stake President. 

In Oct. of 1940, she was called to serve a mission for the LDS Church in the “Eastern States” with headquarters in NYC.  This was at the end of the depression, in which her family had lost their ranch and had no money.  Still, she had the faith to go and the family sent a few dollars periodically, as best they could. 

She was new on her mission and still very unsettled, when on Jan. 5th, 1941 she received a telegram telling her of a terrible car accident in which her Grandmother (Eliza Jane Hancock Perkins) was killed, Maxine’s mother (Rhoda) had broken bones in her neck and legs, and her father (Ira) had been so badly injured that they didn’t expect him to live through the first night.  This was difficult news for a lonely girl a long way from home and uncertain as to the progress her parents were making in the Tucson hospital.  Her Mission President sent for her to return to the Mission Home in New York where he could better see to her needs and to give her a measure of comfort while they waited for additional news.  Eventually, her parents recovered, although her mother remained crippled for the rest of her life. 

While serving in New York, Maxine was able to participate in a missionary chorus, which presented a positive image of the church by giving concerts and singing on the local radio shows.  She also participated in the Hill Cummorah Pageant.

After returning home, World War II was raging and most of the young men had gone off to war.  Maxine’s oldest brother, Gerald, had a job in Portland, Oregon where he was working on building Liberty Ships for the war effort.  He wrote to Maxine to tell her there were jobs available in Portland and that he had also found her future husband for her.  This naturally caught her attention and she came north to live with Gerald.  She got a job at the Meier & Frank store in down town Portland and was soon introduced to Vern Nebeker, on one of his trips to buy a farm from a lady who lived in the Portland area.  They had a short courtship before being married in the Salt Lake Temple on Dec. 16th, 1943.  From there, they went by train to Taylor, where Maxine was able to introduce her new husband to her parents.

Settling on their little farm in LaGrande, Maxine brought nine children into this world (all in LaGrande, except for Sally, who was born in Prescott, AZ.)

In 1971, she and Vern relocated to Eugene, Oregon, in hopes that more of their children might settle in that area… but none did permanently.  Vern was called to be the Stake Patriarch and they enjoyed a lot of wonderful memories, including a six-week trip to the Holy Land and Mediterranean area in 1977. 

Vern passed away on Dec. 12, 1980 and Maxine served her second mission from 1981-82, this time in the Arizona, Tempe Mission. 

Following that experience, she made her winter home in Mesa in a home with her sister, Marva.  She spent her summers traveling around visiting each of her children.

Maxine passed away on July 21st, 1992, while visiting her daughter Lana, in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  She has been greatly missed by her children and over 60 grandchildren.