By Blair White
It’s not every day that you get to meet a miracle – and that’s precisely what Freddie Maxwell is. He persevered through unprecedented trials and continued serving his hometown and his family. Through his story, the heart of small-town, rural America beats strong.
Freddie began his farming operation in 1973 in Sudan, Texas. It is also where he met his wife, Pam, and raised his sons, Aaron and Evan. Evan farms with Freddie and is the sixth generation carrying on the family tradition. Their operation consists of growing cotton with occasional fields of hay, grain sorghum, and corn in the mix. Evan also raises Red Angus cattle. The Maxwells utilize cover crops to create healthy soils. Their most important inputs are hard work and family values.
“There’s no other place to do it,” Freddie said. “Raising someone up on the farm – you learn the work ethic, honesty, and integrity, and there’s no better life in my opinion.”
Evan recalled fond memories of spending time with his dad and brother on the farm. Naturally, there were a few “don’t tell your mom” moments. Still, some of his favorites included having Allsup’s breakfast in the pickup, moving irrigation pipe, and picking up leftover potatoes after harvest and selling them for vacation spending money.
“You learn at a young age to work hard and be proud of what you have and proud of what you worked for,” Evan said. “Now I get to see my kids grow up and see things through their perspective. We look at it and see a weed, but my four-year-old daughter looks at it and sees a flower. Seeing something like that is really neat.”
Freddie began ginning at an independent gin early in his career because it provided cotton trailers to haul his crop to the gin. He switched to the local co-op gin once he integrated module builders into his operation and was able to transport his crop further distances. Over the years, his involvement progressed into leadership positions to help his farming community obtain long-term profitability.
“If it wasn’t for the regionals, farming wouldn’t be as effective as it is,” Freddie explained. “You have the ability to participate in the things that they provide you, like with your progress payments if you’re in the pool, with the compress you can get your payback from the gin, then you also get dividends. Same thing from the oil mill. Without them, we just couldn’t operate.”
Freddie has served on the PCCA Delegate Body and Farmers Cooperative Compress board since 1999. He is the board chairman at FCC and has supported the community of Sudan as a city councilman and mayor. At the same time he was mayor, Pam was president of the Sudan School Board. His other industry involvement includes the Texas Producers Co-op Gin board, PCCA Pool Committee, and TACC board of directors. He also serves on the Lamb County Farm Bureau board of directors and served as a deacon and elder in his church.
In working with his dad, Evan has also experienced the benefits of the co-op system and how serving others plays a role in the bigger picture.
“You can get more done as a group collectively than you can on your own individually,” Evan said. “In farming, we are all in individual operations, but on the cooperative side, we come together for one purpose, and that helps tremendously.”
The Maxwells’ persistent dedication to their community returned tenfold when tragedy struck their family in 2012. One fall morning, Freddie was in a head-on collision involving an 18-wheeler while making his usual rounds to check the farm. Doctors did not expect him to survive. Through many prayers, Freddie miraculously beat the odds.
“Back when that happened, I already had most of my cotton out, but the community – I forget now how many cotton strippers, probably 30 or so, came out one day to pull all of Dad’s crop,” Evan said. “That’s something no other profession would do.”
“Over 100 people were there for us that night in the UMC atrium,” Pam said. “The community of Sudan had a hamburger supper to help raise money for our medical bills. They had blood drives to help because Freddie lost so much blood. We were so fortunate and so blessed. We could not have done it all without them.”
While Freddie continued to heal, Evan handled the farming operation. After six months of recovery, Freddie walked out of the rehabilitation center.
“My greatest joy in life is just seeing God’s creation and God’s hand in everything,” Freddie said. “You know, if it wasn’t for God, we wouldn’t be able to have this and do all that we do.”
Though it’s been over a decade since the accident and much has changed, one thing that has remained the same is the Maxwells’ faith and dedication to serving others. They have much to look forward to with two successful sons and five grandchildren.
“You know, it’s something that we can share our story and help other people,” Pam said. “You just pay it forward.”
Young Farmer Spotlight: Evan Maxwell
“My very first cotton crop was in 2010 on my own land. It had a really nice stand started. June 17 rolls around, and a hail storm came through, and there was nothing left. It was discouraging for sure. It was one of those times that, fortunately, we had enough moisture I could go back with grain sorghum. It can be frustrating at times like that.”
“You have put everything into it and are off to a good start, and all of a sudden something can happen, but most things worth having are not easily obtained. I think farming is kind of the same way. It’s not the easiest profession. It’s not the easiest to get into. I was fortunate to have previous generations that paved the way for me. Watching my granddad and my dad – I want to do that same thing for future generations.”