95 birthdays for local icon
by Buckley Jensen
Next Monday, Maxine Sharp Lyman Himmelberger will celebrate her 95th birthday. I have known and admired her as long as I can remember. Being asked by her family to write her birthday greeting is a singular honor.
Maxine was born January 26, l914 in Parowan, UT. She was the first child in a family of six children. She graduated from Coalville High School and was the student-body vice president her senior year.
She continued her education at Utah State University and graduated with a bachelors degree in Education and Physical Education.
She moved to Monticello to teach school in l936. She became enamored of a young man from Blanding named Vint Perkins Lyman. She met him at a Republican nominating caucus in La Sal, and she was swept off her feet. They were married in l939.
Ten years later, on February 14, l949, Vint passed away and Maxine was left a widow with six small children: Sheree, Larry, Patti, Jeanean, Tauna and Robin. In addition to her own children, she accepted two foster children, who lived in the Lyman home for a year or more.
It was a constant struggle to raise six children alone and teach school for 31 years in the San Juan School District. She taught Primary in the LDS Church for 45 years, coached girls basketball at Monticello High School and was active in Church and many clubs and organizations. She retired from the schools in l972.
She was a widow for 40 years. Nineteen years ago, she married John Himmelberger. Her six children have grown to a family of more than 100, counting the in-laws. She has 32 grandchildren, 62 great-grandchildren and 1.5 great-great grandchildren. These numbers do not include John’s posterity by his first wife.
Maxine has lived a life of unselfish service. She has sent literally thousands of gifts to students for as long as anyone can remember: cards, missionary journals for departing missionaries, books for high school graduates and Eagle Scouts, bluebirds (glass works of art) for newlyweds and songbooks for her primary graduates.
Figure 31 years of teaching, 45 years of Primary, the number of missionaries, Eagle scouts and married couples that she taught or knew through her Church association over the past 70 years and the number of gifts she has bestowed is staggering.
Mrs. Lyman did not teach me in 4th grade, because they split my class in l952-53 and I was put in Mrs. Jamison’s class.
I was in the same Ward (Monticello 2nd) with her family all my growing-up years. I was also close to her children because we all grew up together playing baseball, kick-the-can and many other activities in the field between our houses along with 30 or 40 other kids in the northwest part of town.
Daughters Patti, Janean and Tauna were within two years of me for twelve memorable years.
About six weeks ago, I needed a dictionary. The new one I usually use was missing and I looked around for another one. I pulled out an old hard-cover well-used College Miriam Webster Dictionary. As I was using it, the flyleaf fell open and there, in neatly written blue ink I read:
May 24, 1962
“Congratulations on your graduation from high school. I am so proud of you. I hope this book will help you succeed as you go to college. All my love,”
I had forgotten. I was lost in a flood of memories of this tiny woman, her family, and her kindness and thoughtfulness to me and my family over six decades of association.
She had so little of worldly things but gave so much. Today, she is richer than a Queen in the things that matter.
Maxine, if I may, I would like to speak for the legions of men and woman whose lives you touched, who live far away and may not see you again.
As students and friends we feasted on your indomitable courage, loving support, and priceless friendship. Though small in stature, you are a giant in our lives because of the sterling example you have set for most of a century.
Thank you. Happy Birthday from all of us across the world on this your 95th birthday. We love you.
Buckley Jensen, et. al