Hubert Max Preston, 85, died on December 29th at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Max was the youngest of four children raised on farms in West Texas. After several moves, Max, always a star student, graduated from Ralls High School at age 16 and entered Texas Tech graduating with a BA in Government. Upon graduation, he entered the US Army Signal Corps for 2 years. Following his army service, Max entered the University of Texas Law School on the GI bill and graduated in 1959. After graduation, he began a 31-year career with GTE (now part of Verizon) in San Angelo, TX, where he served as attorney and later VP and Secretary of Southwest GTE.
Subsequent GTE career moves led him to Durham NC and Stamford CT. In 1982, he became VP of Michigan GTE operations in Muskegon MI, retiring in 1991. After retiring from GTE, he moved to Jefferson, NC in Ashe County and later to Hillsborough, NC.
Max was predeceased by his parents ,Callie and Myrtle Preston; his older sister and brother, Elsie and James; as well as his first wife, Norma Wren Preston and his oldest son, Brian Kurt Preston. He is survived by his present wife, Patricia Merriman; his older sister, Billy Vickers in Texas; his son, Grant Preston of Greensboro NC; his daughter-in-law, Catherine Preston of Durham NC and her children, Ben Preston and wife Shannon; and granddaughters, Abby and Deidre Preston. He is survived by numerous cousins, nieces and nephews in Texas.
Aside from excelling in sports and academics, Max exhibited leadership qualities from high school onward. In every community where Max lived, he accepted leadership positions. He was on the boards of Banks, Hospitals, Chambers of Commerce, United Way, Arts Museums and Theater Councils. From the time he joined the Episcopal Church in San Angelo, TX, he held many leadership roles. In NC he was a Docent, Treasurer and Senior Warden among the three Churches of the Frescoes in the West Jefferson area and accepted strategic planning roles at St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Hillsborough NC.
In 1994 he and his first wife, Norma, bought an 1840s historic home in Hillsborough NC known as the Ashe House. Although listed on the National Register of Historic Homes, the Ashe House was truthfully a fixer-upper. Renovations ensued until a great room to seat 50 for lively Jazz performances and a kitchen most cooks would envy, emerged! Max enjoyed leadership positions in Hillsborough at Burwell School and the Hillsborough Historic District Commission.
Max was a lover of dance, writing poetry, birding, gardening, and puppetry and entertaining. He exhibited great love for his immediate family and extended Texan family. His best friend summed up Max as a man of great Faith, not just on Sundays, but the other six days as well. He treated all with respect and was always ready with a helping hand.
From High School onward, Max wrote poetry and, in retirement, began to give Poetry readings at Libraries and other cultural events. In 2007 he self-published the first of three books of Poetry entitled Phoenix Rising and Other Poems. The book covers years of life events, many inspired by Max’s love of nature and the Phoenix Mountains near Ashe County. To quote Max, “the book carries the broader mystical thought that man, like the mythical Phoenix Bird, rises again and again. And all aspects of birth, life and death, and indeed all we know or suspect shares these over and over as the resurrection of Man and the mythical Phoenix Bird.”
A Celebration of Max’s Life will be held at Carolina Meadows Auditorium on January 27, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Max’s favorite charities:
Burwell School, 319 N Churton Street, Hillsborough NC 27278
St. Matthews Episcopal Church, 210 St. Marys Road, Hillsborough NC 27278
Carolina Meadows Gift and Remembrance Fund, 100 Whipporwill Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
The Edgar Cayce Foundation, 215 67th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Charles House, 7511 Sunrise Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514