One Family, Four Generations of Bulldogs

Edna “Louise” Lavender Maxwell knew hard times.

A child of the Great Depression, Maxwell’s mother died when she was 12, and by the time she finished high school and enrolled at UGA in what was then the School of Home Economics, World War II was raging.

“Those were very difficult times, so the UGA campus had a more somber atmosphere than today’s campus,” she said. “It wasn’t the fun and enjoyable college years like today. Everyone was worried about winning the war and doing their part to help the war effort, to beat Hitler and to bring our boys home.”

The “spunky” Maxwell persevered despite the challenges, earning a degree in 1945 and sparking a family legacy that would extend four generations.

Since Maxwell’s graduation, four members of her family have also followed in her footsteps. This is their story.

Edna “Louise” Lavender Maxwell

Degrees: BSHE, University of Georgia, 1945; M.Ed., Georgia College and State University

Profession: Maxwell began her career doing Extension work as an assistant home economist. She ended up transitioning into education and retired in 1981 following a 35-year teaching career, primarily teaching biology at the all-girls Lasseter High School in Macon.

Maxwell grew up on a farm in Jackson County, the youngest daughter of six children born to John Livingston Lavender and Edna Day. After her mother died, the local Extension agent became a role model to Maxwell and influenced her career path.

The home economics curriculum at UGA was “hard as hell,” she said, and included courses in chemistry and bacteriology.

“It made you persevere and strive to do better work,” she said.

Maxwell made a name for herself as an excellent baker, all-around cook and host. Even today, at almost 95 years old, she insists on having a refrigerator in her small room in an assisted living facility so she can offer cold drinks to visitors.

“She was like the Martha Stewart of our family,” said her great niece, Dawn Lavender Newsome. “She just made everything so beautiful.”

Edna Louise Lavender Maxwell and husband- wedding photo

Hilda Tate Lavender

Relation to Maxwell: Lavender is Maxwell’s niece by marriage

Degree: BSHE, University of Georgia, 1967; M.Ed., UGA College of Education, 1992

Profession: Lavender began her career teaching home economics education and later enjoyed a 30-year career in elementary education.

Like Maxwell, Lavender grew up on a farm in Jackson County. She said the quarter she spent living in the home management house under the direction of faculty member Sarah Burton Jenkins was particularly memorable.

“I would not trade my degree for anything,” she said. “We had classes in all fields: interior design, clothing design and sewing, nutrition, cooking, such a broad spectrum. It has been so wonderful for me throughout my life.”

Hilda Tate Lavender

Dawn Lavender Newsome

Relation to Maxwell: Newsome is Maxwell’s great niece and Hilda’s daughter

Degree: BSFCS, housing and consumer economics major, 1990

Profession: Newsome began her career with Merrill Lynch and now works for a registered investment advisor group in Macon in client services.

Inspired by both her mother and her beloved “Aunt Louise,” Newsome seemed destined to end up at FACS.

“Just loving them all so much and admiring them and knowing they graduated from that college inspired me and made me want to learn more about it, too,” she said.

An internship with Merrill Lynch her senior year, orchestrated by faculty member Anne Sweaney, led to a full-time job that ended up becoming a career in financial services.

“It was a happy time, a great time,” she said of her college years, “and definitely had a big role in making me who I am today.”

Dawn Lavender Newsome

April Lavender Hobbs

Relation to Maxwell: Hobbs is Maxwell’s great niece, Hilda’s daughter and Dawn’s sister

Degree: BSFCS, housing and consumer economics major, 1992

Profession: Hobbs began her career as a home economist and 4-H agent in Elbert County before moving into non-profit work in Atlanta and New Orleans. She last served as executive director of the Georgia Industry Association and is currently a stay-at-home mom of two kids.

Like her older sister, Hobbs was active in 4-H growing up, and attributed much of her early interest in the college to “Aunt Louise” and her mother.

“My mother was the greatest influence in my life,” she said. “She managed to keep an organized home and prepare a family meal every night. She did this while working full time, and she still found time to shuffle Dawn and me to our sports and 4-H activities. She was and still is my greatest role model.”

Already, her 11-year-old daughter has committed herself to being the next from the family to earn a FACS degree, which is fine with Hobbs.

“I just loved the classes,” she said, “and always felt most at home in the college.”

April Lavender Hobbs

Laura Olivia Newsome

Relation to Maxwell: Newsome is Maxwell’s great-great niece, Hilda’s granddaughter and Dawn’s daughter

Degree: BSFCS, human development and family science major, 2015; B.S, Nursing, Emory University, 2018

Profession: Labor and delivery nurse, Northside Hospital in Atlanta

Newsome started her UGA career in the College of Public Health, but switched halfway through after discovering the HDFS major. She still recalls the reaction from her family when she told them the news.

“They were all really tickled,” she said, laughing. “I think it had been their own little social experiment to see if I would end up there.”

Newsome, who served as a FACS Ambassador and interned in the infant room at the Child Development Lab at the McPhaul Center during her time here, still keeps up with several faculty members who she said had a major impact on her life.

“I feel like everything I learned in the classroom translated so well to helping me in real life,” she said. “I just loved learning because I felt like it was something useful that was going to help me forever, and that made a world of difference.”

Laura Olivia Newsome