Max Bedwell—truly a good-hearted man

My husband—he was such a great principal and tonight I had another reminder of why. Our church has been having soup suppers each week and inviting anyone in the community who wants to come. We have enjoyed this activity no end and have several people who join us regularly, to eat and to visit. Tonight, someone who really needed help came, along with others. This person asked for Max, who had been there earlier to set up the tables and had gone on an errand. The person was nervous—who wouldn’t be to come into an unfamiliar place and ask for help?! We, meaning me and some of the other workers, greeted the new person, trying to be helpful and calming.  Just then, Max came back. He got a bowl of soup and sat down next to our guest, chatting in a kind and friendly manner.  The guest began to relax and enjoy the meal. Max asked about how we could  help and a conversation developed. Soon, we were all chatting and joking.  After our guest left, Max had several ideas about how we could help this person.

When I encounter very needy people, my heart is full of compassion. But, I am afraid–I am so frightened that I do not know what to do or say. I think I will be too condescending or too bossy—or too friendly or too helpful. I am not sure what to say or do or how to show proper respect. Max knows exactly what to say and to do.  He talks in a friendly and conversational manner, making the person feel reassured and comfortable. And then Max thinks up things to do, to help–useful and practical things. Max experienced hardship and poverty in his youth, growing up on their family farm in Sullivan County, Indiana, late in the Depression.  They weren’t destitute, but his father drank up money that should have been used to help raise his family. Max went to college on a dream and a prayer, working his way though Indiana State. Hard as this early start was, instead of making him bitter, Max’s struggles made him compassionate and caring. He began his career as a teacher and coach, and later was the principal of Salem High School for twenty-seven years. In his long years at SHS, he helped many students; it gave him particular satisfaction to help poor students to attend college on a scholarship or to help them get a job.  Later, when he worked in real estate, he often gave up part of his commission to help needy clients—and he gave mountains of free advice and help to clients and people in need.

Max has a new project. He and his long-time friend and fellow coach Verne Ratliff gardened last summer and are planning another garden this year. They want to sell some vegetables, but they also plan to give vegetables to their friends and to the Washington County Food Bank. Nothing gives Max more pleasure than helping other people; he has a big heart.

3 responses to “Max Bedwell—truly a good-hearted man

  1. Jeanne, I popped in here because you mentioned on Facebook that you had put your Amazon book review on your blog. But I’m so glad you just gave the url for the main page, because if you’d given the direct link, I would have missed this entry about Max. It’s just beautiful.

    Of course I wonder if he knows you’ve said such glowing things about him out here on the internet, where anyone can read it. I wonder if he is embarrassed.

    But good for you, either way!

  2. Thanks! Jim liked it, too. Max read it and was quietly pleased, but humbly said it was “too much…..”

  3. Carrie Beth Byrer

    My name is Carrie Beth. I just searched your husband’s name and found your blog! I write to you because of the following. My father Gary D. Byrer (Gabby) was a basketball official in the mid 70’s early 80’s and during his years as an official, I understand from my Mother that your husbands name was the only name she remembers him mentioning. My dad has much respect for Max as a coach and a man, and really enjoyed the games they “worked together”. The time my Dad spent as an IHSAA official was one of the best times in his life, outside his being married to Mom and his kids ofcourse. Mother is now in a nursing home (MS for 20 + yrs.) in Bloomington and can’t do any research so she has asked me to “track down” Max. 🙂

    Mom has given me the task of trying to locate some pictures of my Dad officiating some games and give it to him as a Christmas present this year. I am sorry to say that I never went to any of Dad’s games. His games were usually all at night, never local and I always had school the next day. I know Dad went all over the State, but he always comes back to Salem and Max Bedwell when he recalls his favorite memories.

    Do think Max would have any idea how I could get my hands on the pictures Mom is asking me to find, that is if they even exist? Dad works so hard going to the nursing home twice daily to see Mom. I don’t know if Max even remembers him but this is my “long shot”. Since I don’t do facebook or any of those sites, please email me at, to let me know you received my message. I would like to give Max Dad’s contact information. It would really do my Dad good to hear from Max. With Mom now in the nursing home and Dad retired he has fewer friends calling him anymore. This is really hard on Dad, since he has always been a very friendly and social person. A call from Max would really “make his day”, even if he dosen’t have a “tip” on how I can find pictures. After reading your blog, I can see why Dad has fond memories of your husband!

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