Fairfield natives and dedicated community members Phil and Jody Maxwell are being recognized as the 2019 Fairfield Swim Days Couple of the Bench.
The couple will serve as the grand marshals for the parade.
The letter of nomination said, “Phil and Jody can be seen at nearly every community event, participating and supporting their fellow citizens. Most importantly, they lend a hand where needed. They are always willing to help one in need. Their love of community and spirit of volunteerism set a good example for all of us.”
Phil and Jody both grew up in Fairfield. Phil was a proud graduate of Greenfield Elementary School and Jody from Fairfield. They both graduated 50 years ago from Fairfield High School. They were sweethearts in high school, on-and-off, they laughed. After graduating, Jody headed to college at Western and Phil at Montana State University. The two were married in 1971 and both finished their education in Bozeman, earning teaching degrees, Phil’s in agriculture business and Jody’s in elementary education.
Phil worked for J.C. Penney in Montana and Wyoming for a couple years before embarking on a 23-year career with Montana Power Co. followed by 13 years at 3 Rivers Communications. He worked with regulatory issues/affairs at both companies including lobbying at a state and national level. Phil served as the lay pastor for the Presbyterian Church in Deer Lodge and is the pastor at the United Church of Christ in Fairfield, a position he has held since 2014. He has taken an active role in the state UCC Churches.
Phil has been involved in Fairfield Lions Club, as a former president and current secretary. He volunteered to serve on the board of the Fairfield Senior Center and is president. He has played an active role in starting the new Fairfield Food Pantry.
Jody taught for 22 years at Avon and Deer Lodge. “A retired teacher, Jody has never lost her love of helping children,” the nomination letter said. She faithfully volunteers to work with children at Fairfield Elementary School twice a week during the school year. She is also involved in the church and is a member of the Fairfield Junior Women’s Club where she has been an officer.
They both have been active members of the Fairfield Community Choir and help with the UCC-sponsored monthly soup and bread community suppers.
The couple moved to Deer Lodge in 1979 and after serving a “30-year sentences” returned to their roots and Fairfield in 2010.
Phil and Jody are truly a team. Having multiple sclerosis, Jody has used a wheelchair for mobility for the last 26 years. “It has never slowed her down,” Phil said, and Jody agreed.
They are parents to two grown sons, Cole who lives with his family in Alaska and Willy with his family in Colorado. They have five grandchildren.
Despite living away from Fairfield for many years, they still had close ties with family members still living in the area. The two boys spent many summers with their Maxwell grandparents. “They kept bikes in my folks’ garage and when they came for the summer, they had a regular route they visited from Jim Johnson’s office at the bank for candy, to Ray and Bob Carlson’s and Jody’s aunts,” Phil said. “They had it made in Fairfield, good times for sure.”
Those good times included attending the annual Swim Days celebration, Phil and Jody said.
Jody said she was there for the first Swim Day celebration and in those days, it was just one day. “But what a fun day it was each year,” Jody said. She remembers taking part in the parade. “In the earlier years, the pet and doll parade had lots and we participated with my mom creating our costumes,” Jody said.
Phil said he was probably at the first Swim Day but can’t recall for sure, but he has great memories of the celebrations over the years. One memory was of his dad overseeing the setup for bingo, and going to the Gambles store to pick out prizes for the winners.
Since returning to Fairfield, Jody can be found helping at the Swim Days breakfast on Saturday morning and Phil volunteering with the Lions Club to set up the game booths. He has also had the honor of serving as a judge for the pie and dessert contest.
Phil and Jody are following in the footsteps of Jody’s grandmother, Daisy Genger, who was one of the first Ladies of the Bench around 1983.
“The community of Fairfield is fortunate that Phil and Jody chose to move ‘home’ in 2010,” the nomination letter said. “We have benefitted from their service and commitment.”
“It is an honor to be selected as the couple of the bench,” they said. On their list of memories from Swim Days celebrations, this will go to the top.