In Memoriam – Maudell Baxley Doner (our Lavender Lady)
November 15, 1923 – July 13, 2007
In 2008, the Tulsa Garden Center received an unexpected gift that would change the organization forever…
Below is a reprint from “Tulsa Herb Gatherings”, a September 2007 newsletter from the Tulsa Herb Society, as submitted by Julie Knebel.
Maudell Baxley Doner was born to Austin W. and Willie Baxley in Nacogdoches, TX. The family owned a hardware store in Nacogdoches. Maudell and her sister grew up in a home and atmosphere reminiscent of “Miss Daisy” (in “Driving Miss Daisy”) who was a spitting image of Maudell’s mother. Southern charm, a strong sense of right and wrong, and a strong will were instilled at an early age. Maudell could be blunt, and straight forward, all while speaking softly and wearing a smile!
Maudell received her Bachelor of Science degree from Texas State College for Women, now known as Texas Women’s University, in Denton, TX. She started her career as a dietician. While working at Valley View Hospital in Ada, OK she met and married James Doner on May 2, 1954. She and James moved to Tulsa and began making friends and developing their garden.
Along with James came four children, Patricia, Byron, Richard, and August. Maudell had the joy of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Holidays were spent with family and friends. Easter with Fran and Rusty, Thanksgiving with Penny and family, Christmas with Richard and Glenda.
The hard times and difficulties for families of that time who often had to give up their children were recalled to Maudell by her mother. This helped Maudell develop a soft heart and strong desire to aid children and strangers. This was not uncommon in the era that Maudell grew up in. She became a “rebel rouser” to help those in need.
Maudell became a tireless volunteer for Adopt-A-Caseworker and was instrumental in developing emergency infant services in the child abuse program. She worked diligently to provide for their daily needs, especially when funds were not available. In 1999 she received the State Interagency Child Abuse Prevention Task Force’s Mary Wilson Award.
Maudell was a friend to many. She and James developed an instant and lifelong friendship with neighbors Fran and Dusty McGee when she lent Fran the use of her telephone. She shared the wonders of pregnancy with Fran, and she and James became “Jim and Doodle” to their children. In the years before microwaves Maudell would come to dinner rescue and defrost meat in her Magic Chef. She made her own yogurt from powdered milk. In recent years Maudell and Fran spent Fridays together – Maudell loved McDonald’s breakfast, which Fran would bring or they would go out to lunch.
During this time she and James remained avid gardeners. They had a large vegetable garden and the side yard was filled with raspberries, blackberries, and fruit trees. James and master gardener Sue Gray devised a method for weighting lower fruit tree branches to keep them horizontal for easier fruit picking. Maudell dried the abundance in her dehydrator.
Maudell was generous with her plants and seeds. We all remember her lavender and have used it many times in Tulsa Herb Society projects. Her cilantro was “the best” and now grows in many gardens.
Maudell was an active churchgoer and was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church for 50 years, and belonged to four bible study groups. These included the Bethel and Serendipity bible studies. She also attended the Lutheran Church near her home. Though not an official member, she was a frequent visitor and often had “discussions” with the minister, especially about music for the younger generation, that the older members had to “live through it”!
In her home Maudell loved to be surrounded by items from her friends. Though she never liked clutter, she cheerfully said “my friends clutter my house”. A silver spoon collection was enlarged by many friends. Three of her THS friends spent an afternoon polishing spoons!
Maudell was renowned for her candied orange peel. For the THS Christmas party she would bring the orange peel or a cranberry, apple, nut salad. To her it looked like Christmas and used the “fruits of the season”. This was something she was acutely aware of as a dietician.
Maudell was an active member of the Tulsa Herb Society. She made an effort to attend meetings and functions. She supplied us with lavender and a sense of humor. Remember her small gift exchange, “Texas Road Kill” (a small can of potted meat)? Pat Morris remembers being scolded for not having a thimble. She soon had a beautiful wooden one from Gilcrease Museum compliments of Maudell! Her practical side was evident in her large Christmas gift exchange – stamps. A great idea!
Tulsa Herb Society was important to Maudell. Nothing was demanded of her except her presence and we were always happy to see her. She was always fun, witty, and smiling. She never complained or had a negative word. Her smile lit the room. She was a light and presence to the herb society. She will be missed.