Maxine Corder born July 18, 1931, to Victor and Alice Shafer in Finlayson, MN was united to Jesus Christ’s death in the waters of Holy Baptism on August 1, 1931. She was welcomed to our Father’s house on August 3 where she now waits for the resurrection.
Finlayson, the northern Minnesotan town of Maxine’s birth and childhood, was so small her father was the Mayor, the Chairman of the School Board, and co-owned the local bank with her grandfather, who lived next door. Growing up as the “Banker’s daughter” in a very small rural town during the Great Depression fostered in Maxine a deep sense of Christian and societal responsibility that would be evident throughout her faith-filled life.
Upon graduation from Finlayson High School, Maxine ventured off by train to the big city of St Paul, MN to attend Macalester College where she served as a Resident Assistant in the women’s dormitory and traveled even further afar with her graduating class to Acapulco Mexico. While at Macalester, Maxine played in the bagpipe band, an activity that required marching in holiday parades through the streets of downtown St Paul during frigid cold Minnesota winters. Despite a longstanding tradition of marching with bare legs under their kilts, Maxine and her fellow bagpipers plotted in secret to dye their thick long underwear in flesh colors to prevent frostbite while avoiding the scrutiny of their band supervisors. Maxine’s coy sense of mischief was always subtly evident in her sparkling blue eyes and demure grin.
It was during a theater class in college that, despite being clothed in baggy painter overalls, she caught the eye of a classmate she first described as a “city slicker” from South Chicago. This remarkably skinny but always fashionable lover of jazz and big-band music would eventually become her adoring husband and lifelong dance partner William (Bill) Corder.
Maxine and Bill were united in Holy marriage in June of 1954 in Finlayson, MN with the Reverend Armin Mueller officiating. Their honeymoon was spent “roughing it” and fishing in the Canadian Boundary Waters of Northern Minnesota where, Maxine was always quick to remind everyone, she caught all the fish.
As Bill began his career in what were still the early years of the television broadcasting industry, Maxine worked as a teacher in both rural and urban Minnesota schools. Bill’s career path eventually led him and Maxine to Indianapolis, IN where the young couple purchased their first home, a small duplex on College Avenue. It was here, amidst flooded basements, landlord duties, and frequent camping and fishing trips, that Maxine gave birth to their two children: son Scott in 1960 and daughter Lisa in 1963.
After a short time living in Lansing, Michigan, the family finally settled in Grand Rapids in 1965, becoming faithful members of Our Savior Lutheran Church on Burton Street. Maxine’s Northern Minnesotan Danish background (and her Lutheran church basement recipe books) quickly found their way into the church kitchen; a loving and laughter-filled place where Maxine would spend decades helping to orchestrate and serve countless Easter Breakfasts, youth Confirmation brunches and funeral luncheons.
As their children grew up, Maxine transitioned to substitute teaching. This left plenty of time to cheer for and encourage her offspring at little league baseball, basketball, cross-country, track, and swimming events. Her inability to say “no” when asked to volunteer led her to help establish the Forest Hills Northern Band Boosters.
When the kids graduated from college, Maxine’s love of teaching shifted to the Grand Rapids Public Museum where, for many years, she served enthusiastically as a Docent and guide for student tours. Maxine’s passion for education and the merits of “being organized”, along with her role in helping create curriculum for the Museum’s new riverfront location inevitably led her to several years of service as President of the Docent League. Maxine’s dedication to learning and children was also abundantly evident in the countless days she spent at multiple museums with her young grandchildren. Her service as a Docent continued fervently for many, many years until an accidental concussion revealed early signs of memory loss.
Maxine and her husband Bill always found joy in the things that originally brought them together: theater and music, especially jazz. Throughout their life together, Friday nights were often spent enjoying good food, the company of close friends, and joyfully dancing the “Lindy” to live performances by their favorite West Michigan jazz musicians.
Maxine and Bill’s love for the outdoors and travel continued as they raised their children. For nearly twenty years, the family spent at least two weeks and one weekend every month towing their much-loved pop-up camper trailer down seldom travelled trails to the “boonies” all over North America and especially Michigan’s lovely peninsulas. When the kids finally left the nest, Maxine and Bill reluctantly sold the camper but their zeal for the outdoors continued. Maxine often described their wilderness adventures by saying “You know you truly love your husband when you don’t mind snuggling into a sleeping bag with your nose in his armpit after several days on the backpacking trail without a bath”.
Maxine was predeceased by her husband William, her parents Victor and Alice Shafer, and her younger sister Sandra and brother-in-law Merle Mattson. She will be lovingly remembered and cherished by her son Scott (Lisa) Corder of Rockford, MI, daughter Lisa (Todd) Bakran of Allendale, MI, her four grandchildren Joshua and Sarah Corder and William and Benjamin Bakran, as well as lots of proudly Danish extended family with roots in her home state of Minnesota.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Our Savior Lutheran Church, 2900 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49546.
Visitation at O’Brien Gerst Funeral Home on August 9, from 6pm-8pm, and also at Our Savior Lutheran Church on August 10, from 10am-11am. The funeral service will be at Our Savior Lutheran Church on Thursday, August 10, at 11am with a luncheon to follow.