Gaylord Maxwell, 83, author, educator, founder of the Life on Wheels (LoW) instructional
program for RVers, and longtime MotorHome magazine columnist, died Saturday, Sept.
20, after a short illness, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
A monthly columnist for MotorHome for 28 years, Maxwell’s column, “En Route,” was extremely popular, and he often satirized and showcased the ups and downs of fulltime RVing. As recently as the first week in September, Maxwell taught four Life on Wheel classes to RV enthusiasts prior to the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey, Pa.
“I still enjoy teaching,” he said after the show. A popular personality within the industry for years, Maxwell was born in Robinson, Ill., one of nine kids, and attended a one-room country school. He didn’t finish high school until after serving in the Navy during World War II. He moved to Hollywood to become an actor, but found jobs lacking. After obtaining a degree from Pomona College on the GI Bill, Maxwell eventually taught high school history and government classes for 17 years. He later earned a master’s degree in American Studies at Cal State University where he became an adjunct professor.
Maxwell came to the outdoor recreation industry while casting about for summer work when he was still teaching. He borrowed $1,000 from the teacher’s credit union and opened a camping store, M&M Camping. “Camping fits with summer and it fit my schedule, but also it interested me,” he recalled in a 2001 interview with RVBusiness. “My background as a kid was camping and fishing – outdoor stuff.”
He later took on travel trailers and motorhomes and operated RV dealerships in
Pomona, San Bernardino and Harbor City in California. He became a writer while promoting
his dealership with a series of camping articles for the local newspaper, which came to the
attention of the Rouse Family’s TL Enterprises Inc. TL was launching RV Retailer magazine,
the predecessor to RV Business, and Maxwell was asked to pen an outdoor column. Initially, he contributed extensively to RVBusiness, Trailer Life and MotorHome magazines, and continued to write periodically for the publications.
In 1993, Maxwell began teaching a
class in “extended-time RVing” for the University of Idaho’s summer enrichment program, and
in 1996 launched LoW, an intensive series of classes involving more than 150 different
subjects for RVers presented over four days.
Maxwell is survived by his wife, Margie; his
children, Mary Jane, Sherri and Lee; his grandchildren, Phillip, Claire, Heidi, Heather,
Tara and Spencer; and several great-grandchildren. A private memorial service will be held
Friday, September 26. The family asks that donations be made in Maxwell’s name to the
donor’s favorite charity.
Gaylord Maxwell was an iconic personality in the RV community who
touched the lives of many people. Share your remembrances and personal stories with
MotorHome and Gaylord’s family. Email us at [email protected] or send us a
letter at: Letters to the Editor, MotorHome Magazine 2575 Vista Del Mar Drive Ventura, CA