Maxine Bigner Stoddard

Published 8:33 am Friday, February 16, 2024

Maxine Bigner Stoddard passed from this life into true life on February 14, 2024. She was ninety-four years old and was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, neighbor, and child of God.

Maxine was born on April 16, 1929, to Robert E. and Blanche Woodall Bigner. She graduated Salutatorian from Johnston Station High School and later from Soule Business College in New Orleans. She worked for years as a secretary in New Orleans, where she met her husband of over fifty years, Connie.

In the late 1970s, tragedy changed the trajectory of her life when her daughter was killed, forcing her and Connie to upend their life in New Orleans to return to her home and raise their grandchild, Andy. From 1978 until her death, she lived as a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother mere feet from where she was born and raised.

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Maxine was faithful to her family as well as to her church, Johnston Chapel United Methodist Church. She was active in Sunday School and the Ida Vickers Circle of the United Methodist Women, often kicking her family out of the house when the Circle would meet in her home. She kept up with the church’s membership roll, and her son Andy once said the hardest day of his life was when he had to tell her to take his name off the rolls when he had his religious wanderings in college and joined the Baptist church. Thankfully, he came to his senses and rejoined the United Methodist Church. One of the vows one makes when one joins the church is to be faithful with your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service, and your witness. Maxine fulfilled these vows to her church and to her God as faithfully as any person could.

As mentioned previously, her life was often touched by tragedy. She is preceded in death by not only her parents, Robert and Blanche Bigner, but by her daughter, Sarah Leon; her son, Robert Edgar Leon; as well as her sisters, Emma Gene Dunn (and her husband Fred), Margaret McCallum (and her husband David); and her brother, Merlin Bigner (and his wife, Evelyn); as well as a brother-in-law, Lamar Smith.

She is survived by her husband, Connie; her son, Andy (Holly); and grandchildren Mitchell Leon (Deanna), Clarissa Travis (Chris), Sarah Stoddard, and Thomas Stoddard; five great-grandchildren; her sister, Mary Ellen Smith; her brother, Charles Bigner (Lynda); as well as a host of beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.

One of Maxine’s greatest lessons to us all sprang from the great tragedy of her daughter’s murder. Andy once asked her if she hated the man who murdered her daughter. She paused for a moment and said, “No. If I hate him, he wins.” Maxine taught Andy and all who knew her that hatred and unforgiveness only destroy the person who clings to them; forgiveness and love are the only paths that lead to life.

Maxine Stoddard’s Service of Death and Resurrection will be at Johnston Chapel United Methodist Church on Monday February 19, 2024 at 11:00 a.m., with visitation from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., with the Rev. Dwayne Scoggins officiating.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made in her memory to Johnston Chapel United Methodist Church, your local church, or a charity of your choosing.