In Memoriam: Maxine Meritt Kroll

In Memoriam: Maxine Meritt Kroll
Maxine Meritt Kroll | November 21,1918 to January 23, 2023

November 21, 1918 to January 23, 2023

Maxine Meritt Kroll | November 21,1918 to January 23, 2023
Maxine Meritt Kroll | November 21,1918 to January 23, 2023

104 Years! What an extraordinary life well and fully lived! Documenting the achievements, interests, philosophical bits of wisdom, humor and joie de vivre of everybody’s favorite luncheon and dinner date, friend and advisor Maxine Kroll would take another 104 years and another 200-plus Facebook messages. At her recent Witness to the Resurrection Memorial Service at Riverside Presbyterian Church, Bill Schmidt gave a fitting and uplifting  tribute to her accomplishments and highlighted her personal history of growing up in Texas, working for the military in the payroll department  during World War II, meeting and marrying Dr. Peter Kroll, her husband of 53 years — a naval flight surgeon and cardiovascular surgeon who later headed up the Veteran Hospitals in Florida under the administration of Governor Claude Kirk. Schmidt cited Maxine’s numerous commitments to volunteering at St. Vincent’s Hospital, the Symphony Guild, the Cummer Museum, The Jacksonville University Library and many more organizations which benefited from her help. Maxine remarked once that her husband had asked her exactly what she had learned in college and she responded with a twinkle in her eyes, “To be a cheerleader!” She could not have been more accurate or prescient. Throughout her amazing life she was everybody’s cheerleader. Numerous people commented that when you were with Maxine, she made you feel like you were her best friend – the most important person in the world.  Rule #6. “Remember life is not all about you. Always be interested in the people you are with.”

Maxine Meritt Kroll

John Hurtubise relayed Maxine’s life lessons at the service and Rule #7 was: “Always dress up – you will feel better about yourself and be more successful and respected.”  Always impeccably dressed, with perfectly-coiffed hair, flawless makeup (blue eyeshadow accentuating sparkly sapphire eyes) and glowing skin (thanks to Rule #10: “Use Pond’s cream every night.”), Maxine was a diminutive picture of elegance, determination and energy.  While at lunch at Blue Fish with friends for birthday 103, she laughed and talked for hours, then remarked that she needed to go home and freshen up for a dinner party with other friends. Recently, when Maxine remarked that she had to limit herself to one event a day, friends knew she was slowing down. Rule #9: “Surround yourself with younger people. After all, you may outlive your contemporaries.”  Reverend Dr. Brian Lays got a resounding chuckle from the 200 or so attendees at RPC when he remarked on Maxine’s Rule #3: “Don’t waste time on boring people.” He related that he had called to make an appointment to see Maxine, but she said she was too busy at that time. He was surprised that someone would be too busy to meet with their pastor then joked that maybe he fit into the “#3 boring people category.” Of course, as Schmidt remarked, “It took two or three weeks to get on Maxine’s dance card.” After all, she lived by the rule, “Always be interesting” and she certainly was.

image of Smucker's jar with Maxine Meritt Kroll's photo on it and her name, "Jacksonville, Florida" and "104 years old" under the photo, all on the label

A whiz at texting (always with perfect diction), thanks to friend Clark La Blond,  Maxine was the queen of emoticons. Her cousin Nicky Sherwood who traveled from California for the services laughed that Maxine got an iPhone before she did. Maxine became tech savvy in her 80s, splurged on an elliptical machine in her 90s, loved music, painting — she was an accomplished artist – dancing, spy novels, dining out and visiting with friends. Perhaps another rule should be: “Eat Peggy Bryon’s pound cake for breakfast every day.”

Debrah Gervin, her long-time shopping, driving, social organizing, photo documenting, devoted friend, arranged a lovely reception at Timuquana Country Club where folks gathered to honor this “little dynamo “and it seemed that Maxine would make an entrance at any moment dressed to the nines! Mary Sumner reminisced: “Maxine lit up every room that she came into.” Facebook is flooded with comments including “a light has gone out in the world” but Schmidt said, “That light will keep on shining on us and in us.”

When Maxine was failing the last couple of weeks before she passed on, cherished friend John Hurtubise told her that he didn’t want her to leave us. “She snapped back that I was selfish and not to worry because God was with her, and everything would work out,” he said. Rule # 11: “Have a strong faith.” She remarked that she never prayed, but God was her conversational partner, and they chatted all day. Readings from John 14 included comfort for her many best friends: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

Maxine Meritt Kroll giving thumbs up

Maxine constantly expressed gratitude for her wonderful life and longevity and for the love and friendships that she cherished. In her last days she charged friends to care for each other and said she would be looking out for everyone from heaven. Peggy Bryan related that she was “always so positive, always looking forward. About an hour before she died, a hospice chaplain sang ‘Amazing Grace’ at her bedside.” The words, “We’ve no less praise to sing God’s praise, than when we’d just begun” reflect her eternal optimism.  Thumbs up!

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