Lila Aileen Maxwell was born October 22, 1915, in a little town along the La Plata River called Pendleton, New Mexico, which doesn’t even exist today. Her father was Thomas Glennwood Funk, and her mother was Mary Roberts Hughes.
Aileen had two sisters: Dorothy Estalena (Tanner) and Gladys Marie (McBee). They moved to La Plata City, Colorado where their father was a miner at the Tenbrook Gold Mine. On July 5, 1918, there was an explosion at the mine and Glenn was killed instantly. He was only 24 years old.
Aileen and her sisters, along with her mother, went to live with her grandparents, William and Ida Jane Hughes, at Hesperus, Colorado. Aileen’s grandfather was a cattleman, moving his cattle from his New Mexico ranch in the winter to his Colorado ranch in the summer.
In 1919, Bill Hughes, as William was called, sold his cattle, and moved to Durango, Colorado so Aileen and her sisters could go to school, as Hesperus did not have a school. Aileen grew up in Durango, graduating from Durango High in 1933. She married Alfred Clifton Pierce, and they had a son, Alfred Glenn Pierce.
Aileen trained to be a physician’s assistant, working for Dr. Darling and later Dr. Elliott in Durango. Aileen and Alfred were divorced.
In 1942, Aileen married Dr. I. E. Maxwell. World War II had just been declared and Dr. Maxwell was the first doctor in Colorado to enlist. Aileen and Glenn went with Dr. Maxwell to New Orleans, Louisiana where Dr. Maxwell was head of surgery at the Port of Embarkation Hospital at Camp Plauche. Aileen also worked at the hospital for the Army at the Ear Eyes Nose and Throat (EENT) clinic. When peace was declared, Dr. Maxwell was discharged as a Major and they moved back to Durango.
At this time, Dr. Richard Speck owned a small hospital in Cortez and he and Dr. Rasor were the only doctors in Cortez. Dr. Rasor’s father was ill and Dr. Rasor wanted to go visit him and Dr. Speck was needing a vacation from the War years, so Cortez needed a doctor. Dr. Maxwell was invited to come to Cortez to take over the medical practice, so he along with Aileen and Glenn went to Cortez. When both doctors decided to retire, Dr. Maxwell moved his whole family to Cortez. He had two sons, Elden and Melvin, and one daughter, Wynona, by a former marriage.
Dr. Maxwell opened his “Maxwell Clinic” on February 5, 1946, on Main Street. Dr. Kirking moved to Cortez and joined the clinic as later did Dr. Cliff Parmley, Dr. Paul Doneskey and Dr. Vince Gardner. Aileen continued working as assistant.
In 1954, Dr. Maxwell sold his clinic to Dr. Doneskey, and he and Aileen retired. They had three children, Maridell Aileen, born in 1954, Marissa Marlene, born in 1956 and Thomas Lindsay, born in 1959.
They purchased a Piper Cruiser airplane and both Dr. Maxwell and Aileen learned to fly their own plane. Aileen took lessons from Polly Usher who owned the airport and who had taught the army pilots to fly during the war.
Dr. Maxwell and Aileen were instrumental in starting a Four Corners Jeep Club and photographing the scenic Four Corners area. Aileen was Secretary and later President of the club.
At this time, the Four-Wheeler magazine was just being published and Aileen’s picture of the club driving down Black Bear Pass into Telluride was chosen as their first cover. She eventually had 11 cover pictures and four travel stories featured in the Four-Wheeler magazine. And this last February, the Four-Wheeler magazine featured her cover picture in their 60th Anniversary edition.
In 1985, Aileen and her son, Thomas, published their own scenic magazine entitled “Canyonlands of Utah”. Bates Wilson, later Superintendent of Canyonlands National Park and for whom the beautiful arch between Moab and Monticello was named, had told the Jeep Club of all the beautiful scenery in the park.
In 1965, Aileen and Dr. Maxwell were divorced, and Aileen worked for the Cortez Medical Group and Southwest Memorial Hospital.
Aileen was a devout Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) and became teacher’s aide for the SDA Church School. Later she was leader of the March of Dimes.
Aileen and her three younger children spent four years in Angwin, California while her children graduated from Pacific Union College. While in California, Aileen worked for St. Helena Hospital. Aileen took classes at Pacific Union College studying phlebotomy.
When they returned to Cortez, Aileen was employed by Alcohol and Drug Counseling Center where she became the CEO. Aileen retired at age 75.
Aileen passed away at Namaste House in Farmington, New Mexico on September 25, 2022. She was 27 days short of turning 107 years old. She is survived by her children, Maridell (Ron) Price, Farmington, New Mexico; Marissa (Howard) Kaime, Cortez, Colorado; and Thomas (Jaylene) Maxwell, Roseburg, Oregon; 22 grandchildren; 25 great grandchildren and 9 great, great grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her father, mother, one son Glenn (Donna) Pierce, three stepchildren, Wynona (Joe) Smart; Elden (Monica) Maxwell; Melvin (Louise) Maxwell, two sisters, Dorothy (Jim) Tanner, Gladys McBee; her niece Beverly McBee, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Aileen leaves a legacy for her family, along with her exquisite photos and many wonderful memories.