The late Don and Joanne (Huber) Maynard raised a family of seven children that became among the most creative, talented and interesting group of siblings in the Capital City.
Don and Joanne’s seven offspring included Robin, Don, Dave, Polly, Morgan, Phil and Andy. Of the seven, five remained in the Helena area, although two have passed away.
The Maynards are a unique and diversified bunch, with skills including, but not limited to, disc jockey, artist, musician, acting, house painting, truck and tractor driving, teaching, building, writing, paralegal, proofreading, the Peace Corps, auto body work, antique and jewelry dealer, and guitar builder.
The family also has a penchant for hard work, innovative thinking and storytelling.
Parents Don and Joanne
Don (1928-2005), who grew up in North Dakota and Minnesota, was better known as “Maynard the Painter” in Helena for over 40 years. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, attended Carroll College and married Joanne Huber here in 1949.
A colorful character, Don was a voracious reader, and was renowned as a singer of melancholy songs and an inveterate philosopher. After his divorce in 1971, Don remarried and had another daughter (Donna) with his second wife.
Joanne (1931-2015) Huber Maynard was a fourth-generation Helenan. Her parents George “Shorty” and Mary Huber raised Joanne and her sister Gretchen in a “loving, creative, and laughter-filled” home.
Joanne worked as a secretary for the Episcopal Diocese of Montana and St. Peter’s Cathedral. She volunteered in many ways to help the “disadvantaged and broken,” and will be remembered for her wit, boundless ingenuity, cheerful whistling, “always full” cookie jar and the endless cups of tea and quiet companionship she provided.
Robin Maynard (1950-2016) graduated from Helena High in 1968.
Throughout her life, Robin endeavored to paint draw, sculpt, or tattoo images of the world around her. Her prolific works of art have been on display in several local businesses over the years, much of which is still for sale. She once voluntarily taught an art class for Golden Triangle.
Robin’s pastimes included hiking and cycling through the hills around Helena. She had two sons, Brian and Mike, a daughter Mary, and five grandchildren.
Don Maynard, 67, graduated from Helena High in 1969, where he was a 95-pound wrestler for the Bengals. He has spent most of his life abroad teaching in Peru and then Japan. He recently retired to Maui, Hawaii. Don’s wife Judy Benevetti helped raise his son from a previous marriage, and they have three grandchildren.
Don attended Carroll College and was employed by the Montana State Film Library, splicing film. Don worked as a gifted radio disc jockey for KCAP and KBLL Radio for most of the 1970s, under the pseudonym “Don Blue.” In addition, as Professor Good Fellow, he hosted his own late-night TV show “Dungeon Theater” for KTCM.
One of Don’s more popular programs occurred in the mid-‘70s, when he conducted daily interviews with his grandfather Shorty Huber and his brother Dave, during their cross country bicycle trip from Helena to Washington, D.C.
Don also owned an electronic repair shop behind downtown’s "Opera House" music store. He went on to teach English, math and science in Lima before working as a librarian and tutor in Tokyo.
Dave Maynard, 66, HHS Class of 1970, resides in the Ballard/Seattle area. For the past 18 years, he has owned his own business, Cotswold Carpentry, working as a carpenter/general laborer/construction.
After high school, Dave also worked at the State Film Library, before attending Eastern Montana College, studying performing arts in Billings for a year.
“In the spring of 1972, I cut my class load … and with the tuition money bought a bicycle, and discovered a lifetime passion,” Dave recounted. “After the summer in Eastern’s playhouse program, I tried my first long distance bike ride down to Yellowstone Park and back through Bozeman.”
Dave still bikes every day, at 4 a.m. around Seattle “when the traffic is real quiet.”
During the 1970s, Dave worked for Kruse Lumber and Bert & Ernie's; was employed by his father painting and helping out on his farm near Toston; acted at Port Townsend (Washington) Repertory Theatre, Virginia City Opera House Grand Street Theatre; and drove a school bus.
Over the past 35 years, his employment has included the founding of the Village Theatre in Issaquah, Washington, where he has acted, built the sets, and served as technical director; freelance carpenter and house painter in Issaquah and Bellevue; and working at the Seattle Children’s Theatre.
Now semiretired and doing some writing, Dave reminisced about his favorite family memories.
“I think my favorite memories of my Mom and siblings was all the uproarious laughing fits we would get into just sitting around the kitchen table … up at the big old house on Hauser,” related Dave, who with wife Sharva has a son, a daughter and three grandchildren. “And my favorite memories of my Dad is when he … taught me how to drive out on the dirt roads going out past Canyon Creek and on up to Dead Man’s Creek."
Polly, 63, graduated from Helena High in 1973, and after raising her son Thaddeus, from Carroll College (English–writing) in 1999. A lifelong Capital City resident, Polly retired from the school district.
She has worked as a hotel maid, cook, tractor driver, house painter (of course), secretary, proofreader and East Helena Schools para at the middle school. And of all her employment, what she’s most proud of were her accomplishments as a special ed aide.
“Making kids laugh gave me more fulfillment than any other job I did,” said Polly, who lives in the Helena Valley with husband Hurrell Carter and one of their two grandsons.
She described her favorite family memory being the time they moved to Salinas, California, as kids around 1960.
“That winter had been one of the worst for snowfall and subzero weather, ever, and Dad had had enough,” Polly recalled.
She mostly remembered being in the back of their green Plymouth station wagon with the back seat folded down so everyone could sleep.
“I was the only kid awake, and I watched the darkened highway go by,” she said. “The dashboard was lit a luminescent green. Dad poked the cigarette lighter in and when it popped out, he and Mom lit their Pall Malls.
“Mom laughed at something Dad said, I felt so safe and content. We didn't know about seat belts and secondhand smoke and lung cancer (back then).”
Morgan, 60, graduated from Capital High in 1976, having worked as a babysitter, horse boarder and Independent Record paper carrier (with brother Phil).
After attaining a bachelor’s degree in health information management from Carroll, Morgan’s employment is composed of KCAP, Woolworth's (her favorite part was “scooping up goldfish, dead or alive”) and then Intermountain children's home for 20 years, where she “grew up.”
Next came stints at Montana State Fund, Westmont and New West Health.
“Then came the Peace Corps from 2008-10,” she recounted. “After my youngest brother Andy died, I needed a change of scenery, and served 26 months in Guyana, South America.”
Next came stints at the Real Food Market and the city of Helena, but when Joanne died in 2015, she decided another change of scenery was due, and moved to New Mexico with her boyfriend Mike. There she began an online sales career, which has continued (long distance) since moving back home in November, along with a part-time gig at BUZZ Boutique Sewing and Alterations.
Morgan lists among her life’s proudest accomplishments her daughters Tegan and Gretchen, whom she shares with their father, Corrie Hahn, and babysitting her “adorable” grandson Xavier.
Her favorite memories growing up are the meals with her parents, siblings, relatives and family friends (and a few dogs under the table), whether it was a Fourth of July picnic, a holiday or a birthday party.
“We would pile into the kitchen and exchange stories,” she related. “Dave and Don were always ‘performing’ and the meals ended with my sides hurting from laughing so hard.”
Phil, 58, has been dubbed the “Unofficial Mayor of Rimini.” He and his wife Catherine parented son Mars and daughter Indigo, and have two grandchildren.
Phil quit school at the age of 15, and went to work at an auto body repair and paint shop.
He earned his GED before attending Bellevue Community College in Washington and Seattle’s Cornish Art Institute (Theater set design and building, scene painting, sculpture and drawing and painting), and the University of Montana (art education).
His career in the 1980s consisted of set building and painting at Front Street Theater in Issaquah; picture frame building, gold gilding and finish painting at Seattle’s Denman’s Gallery; and self-employed at auto body, house painting and carpentry.
From 1996-2007, Phil was an antique dealer (buying, selling, appraisals) locally, and for the past nine years he has been building and repairing guitars for Dan Roberts Stringworks in Belgrade. Ever since 1980, he has sold jewelry at numerous galleries and stores throughout Montana as well.
“My fondest memories would have to be the time in the late 60s and early 70s I spent sitting around the kitchen table with my mother and siblings, talking politics, religion and philosophy,” Phil said. “Drinking tea and thinking we were going to change the world. Also the time I spent acting and hanging out at The Old Brewery Theater.”
Andy (1965-2007) graduated from Capital in 1983. His hobbies included astronomy, attending Dr. Cline's lectures at Carroll and using his own high-powered telescope to lose himself in the stars. Andy was a rock climber and hiker as well.
“He also enjoyed woodworking and carving, heavy metal music, playing with fireworks in ways that were not always prescribed on the packaging and SpongeBob SquarePants cartoons,” according to his obit.
After working at numerous vocations, Andy followed in the footsteps of his father, and took over the name of “Maynard the Painter.”
Andy died at the age of 41, from injuries sustained in a car wreck. He is survived by his children Samantha and Andrew, and stepdaughters Candace and Amanda. There is no doubt, in this reporter’s mind, that this next generation will carry on the Maynard tradition of creativity, hard work and uniqueness.
Curt Synness, a fifth generation Helenan, can be reached at 594-2878 or by email at email@example.com. Curt is also on Twitter @curtsynness_IR