Man, 79, dies in tree-trimming accident

By Brandon Evans | Published Wednesday, February 20, 2013

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Greenwood lost an active member of its community to a tragic accident Monday morning.

Bill Maxwell died when a large tree he was trimming fell and struck him.

FATAL MORNING - Bill Maxwell, 79, of Greenwood was killed at his home Monday morning after a large tree he was trimming fell onto him. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

FATAL MORNING – Bill Maxwell, 79, of Greenwood was killed at his home Monday morning after a large tree he was trimming fell onto him. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Maxwell, 79, was trimming trees by a creek bed on his property, just down the hill from his home, when the accident occurred about 9:30 a.m. The farm is located in the 1200 block of Farm Road 1204, a couple of miles west of Farm Road 51.

“He was cutting some trees along the creek bank when one of them broke and came over on him,” said Captain Kevin Benton with the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. “Everything in our investigation is showing us at this time it was a very tragic accident.”

Another man was working with Maxwell at the time of the accident. He called 911 and attempted CPR on Maxwell while waiting, but to no avail. The blow killed Maxwell almost instantly.

Family, friends and neighbors gathered on a rolling hill of the farm as emergency responders investigated the accident. Wind, which was gusting from the west up to 22 miles per hour, might have played a role in felling the tree onto Maxwell.

Greenwood/Slidell Volunteer Fire Department, Wise County medics and members of Wise County Sheriff’s Office all responded. Justice of the Peace Clay Poyner pronounced Maxwell dead at the scene.

Maxwell lived at the home alone, and according to friends and family, stayed busy working and tending the property. A small herd of goats he raised grazed in a nearby pasture.

Those who knew him said he was doing what he loved when the accident happened.

“He loved working, and he loved serving people and helping people,” said Bobby Cates, his pastor at First Baptist Church in Slidell. “He couldn’t get enough of it.

“His dad always told him the quickest way to die was to get up and do nothing.”

So, despite his age, he kept busier than most people.

“There was a wonderful stubborness that kept Bill Maxwell going,” Cates said. “He was not just going to lay down and get old.”

“He was just a ball of energy,” said Bert Pruett. “He kept going all the time. He was never still.”

“He was 79, and it was a challenge to everybody around him to keep up with him,” Cates said.

Maxwell grew up in Greenwood and attended Decatur Baptist College before he moved away to finish college and work. He moved back home to Greenwood about 15 years ago to take over his family’s farm. “He would get up every morning and work for a couple hours around his place,” said Pruett, who taught Maxwell’s Sunday school class. “Then around lunchtime he’d make his way to the fire hall to play dominoes. That was his daily routine.”

Serving others in his community was also part of his routine. On Wednesdays and Sundays he’d drive a bus around Greenwood and Slidell to take young people to church whose parents couldn’t take them. He organized the fall festival the church has every year, he organized a men’s prayer group at the church and helped the church build a carport to cover the church’s buses. He’d recently been ordained a deacon.

“Bill was involved in just about everything,” Cates said. “It will be difficult to remember everything until it comes up next year and I’m needing Bill for help.”

Maxwell was also involved with the Greenwood Cemetery Association, the buyers’ association and the fire department.

Funeral for Maxwell is 10 a.m. Friday at First Baptist Church Slidell with burial at 2 p.m. at Moore Memorial Garden, 1219 N. Davis Dr., in Arlington. Family visitation is 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the church.

Memorials may be made to the Benevolence Fund at First Baptist Church of Slidell.

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