Jean Ann (Stephenson) Maxwell, 72, passed away peacefully on Friday evening, April 23, 2021 at the Pendleton, Indiana home of her loving stepdaughter, Kristi Owens. Jean was born on February 6, 1949 in Richmond, Indiana, the second child and first daughter of the late Rev. Paul Barkley Stephenson and Ernestine Lucille (Pask) Stephenson.
As a Methodist preacher's kid, she grew up in various Indiana towns: Richmond, Winchester, Noblesville, Fort Wayne, Portland, and Munster. Jean graduated from Fort Wayne's North Side High School in 1967, received her Bachelor's degree in education from the University of Evansville in 1971, and her Master of Science degree in education from Butler University in 1973. Her working career began as an elementary school teacher, teaching three years at Conner Elementary School in Noblesville.
Jean met her dearest husband-to-be, Alva Franklin Maxwell, on a blind date in the summer of 1973. They were married at the Grace United Methodist Church in Rochester, Indiana on November 2, 1975. Frank and Jean converted a barn on their Lapel, Indiana farm property into a beautiful home, keeping a few exposed timbers to be reminded of the barn's history. After marriage, Jean's career path changed from education to social work. She started a 38-year career working for Madison County's division of Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration. She worked tirelessly for some of the poorest and least among us, making countless visits to clients in nursing homes, always with a gracious smile and deep empathy.
Jean loved being a member of the First United Methodist Church in Noblesville, where her father had been the minister from 1955-1964. Jean was a nearly 50-year member of the Chancel Choir, and also enjoyed her Bible study group at the church. She was renowned as a cat lady, caring for dozens of cats over her lifetime, and for her prodigious Christmas baking output, which she shared with so many others.
Jean was the loving stepmother of Frank's two children, Brian and Kristi; step-grandmother to Kristi's three children, Nathon Owens, Brandon Owens (wife Ashley), and Julie Owens Williams (husband Justin); and six step-great-grandchildren, Kennedy Williams, Kemper Owens, Owen Williams, Jobie Owens, Kase Owens, Bennett Owens. Jean is survived by her three siblings, Philip James Stephenson (wife Gerri) of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Paul Bruce Stephenson (wife Maria Schmidt) of Bloomington, Indiana, and Claire Ann Smith (husband Gary) of Portland, Indiana. She is also survived by two nephews, Peter Stephenson (girlfriend Elena) and Michael Stephenson (wife Christine); three nieces, Michelle Taylor (husband Robert), Greta Stephenson and Marta Stephenson; grandnephews, Noah, Nicholas, Aiden, Maddox, and Jackson; grandnieces, Ashley and Taylor; and a great-grandnephew, Spencer.
Jean was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Frank; stepson, Brian; and Kristi's husband, John Owens.
Visitation will be at 11:00 am EDT on Friday, April 30th in the Whitcomb Chapel at the First United Methodist Church, 2051 Monument Street, Noblesville, Indiana 46060. A Celebration of Life service will follow at 12:00 noon. Clergy officiating will include Bishop John Hopkins, the Rev. Jerry Rairdon and the Rev. Jill Moffett. A private burial service will follow at Crownland Cemetery.
The family suggests that memorial gifts in Jean's memory be given to the Noblesville First United Methodist Church Chancel Choir, the Organ Fund, or a charity of the donor's choice.