Donald Robert Maxson ’45

Donald Robert Maxson ’45 died on February 13, 2020, in Providence, Rhode Island.

(The following was published by The Providence Journal on February 16, 2020)

Donald Robert Maxson, aged 96, died February 13, 2020, at Wingate Residences on the east side of Providence, RI. Prior to moving to Wingate, Donald lived in Barrington, RI, for fifty-five years with his wife, stepdaughter, and several dogs through the years, primarily German shepherds.

Donald was born in Claremont, NH, January 19, 1924, to Louis A. and Leila S. Maxson. He was predeceased by his wife of thirty-seven years, Mary Jane (Godfrey) Maxson, and his brother, William Maxson.

Donald received his BA from Bowdoin College in 1944, worked at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, for three years before entering the doctorate program at the University of Illinois in Chicago where he graduated with a PhD in Physics in 1954. While working on the Princeton University faculty, he met and married his wife, Mary Jane (Midge) Godfrey, and lived in Princeton, NJ, before taking an assistant professorship position at Brown University where he worked for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1994. Donald was the only experimental nuclear physics professor on staff at Brown during those years and his laboratory was formerly located on the Wingate property he called home for the past six years.

While he may have been a man of a few choice words, Donald held many opinions, was fiercely independent, stubborn but courteous, a stoic New Englander and a rational scientist to his core.

He loved to summer in Wellfleet, MA, where he sailed his seventeen-foot Explorer, the first and only sailboat he ever owned. In addition to sailing, he loved to read, listen to Mozart, and liked to ‘putter’ – he never met a problem that couldn’t be solved with Rube Goldberg ingenuity, a fulcrum, or black electrician’s tape. Don loved his dogs, beginning with his childhood chocolate lab, Bosco, and most of all, his family of whom he was immensely proud and loyal.

Donald is survived by his lady friend, traveling companion and ‘sweetheart’ of twenty years, Nancy Carlson of Brewster, MA; his stepdaughter, Kate Godfrey Weymouth (Scott) of Barrington, RI; his stepson, E. Drexel Godfrey (Bette) of Williamstown, VT; four grandchildren, Lydia Evans (Colin) of Libertyville, IL, Eleanor Godfrey (Seth) of Los Angeles, CA, Peter Weymouth (Ali) of Portland, OR, and Stuart Weymouth of Barrington, RI; as well as his two great-grandchildren whom he was fortunate to meet before he died, Drexel Rohde Morris (CA) and Bennett Cora Mabel Weymouth (OR).

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