News Item

Daughter Endows Teaching Chair in Memory of Dr. Maxon


As one of the first physicians in the Fort Walton Beach area, Dr. Robert P. Maxon was one of those rare individuals who could have done anything with his life.

An engineer, an international businessman, a pilot, and medical doctor, the Indiana native had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. While some recall his engineer-driven intellectual side, others remember his physician-driven compassion.

Eugenia Lambert Maxon recalls how her father valued the work of nurses in his practice. "He used to say that nurses were worth their weight in gold," she said.

That is why she has donated funds to establish the Dr. Robert P. Maxon Endowed Teaching Chair in Nursing at Okaloosa-Walton Community College. "He always had respect for nurses," said Lambert, who lives in Montgomery, Alabama. "When we learned about the college starting the nursing program, it seemed liked the perfect way to help the college and recognize the medical services my father helped bring to the community."

After attending Kenyon College and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, Dr. Maxon ultimately shunned working as an engineer in his family's Maxon Premix Burner Co. Instead he found his way to Tulane University where he taught the Navy's V-6 and V-9 pilot program.

The lure of medicine was too strong. Maxon graduated from Tulane Medical School in 1948 and opened his practice in Fort Walton Beach two years later with Dr. Bernard Russell. "Bob Maxon was an interesting man to say the least," remembered Dr. Russell, his partner when they established Magnolia Medical Clinic. "He never wanted to be an engineer. He wanted to be a doctor."

Russell said Maxon's passion for medicine made him "something of a visionary. He really worked to have the old Fort Walton Beach Hospital built, but he wanted a major medical center on the v-shaped land outside the Eglin gate with one wing for the military and one wing for civilians. This was in the 1960s, so he was way of ahead in his thinking."

Dr. Bill Thompson, another associate of Maxon's, said the Endowed Teaching Chair in Nursing "is a great thing" to do for the college and nursing program. "No matter when it was, Dr. Maxon always responded because he was dedicated to taking care of his patients," reflected Thompson of Maxon who retired from medicine in 1972, built the Shalimar Marina and returned to work for the Maxon Corp. as vice president in Brussels, Belgium, establishing the first of the firms many international offices.

OWCC President Dr. Bob Richburg said Lambert's donation "honors her father's service to medicine and honors our college because of the permanent resources it will provide our new registered nursing program." Richburg explained the gift to create Maxon Teaching Chair in Nursing is eligible for state matching fund that will nearly double the size of the contribution.

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