Maida Joanne Navis
September 19, 1927 - April 11, 2011
Maida Joanne Navis, 83, passed away peacefully on April 11, 2011 in Payson.
She was born Sept. 19, 1927 in Prairie View, Kan., the younger of two daughters born to Herman and Sarah Boeve. At the age of 8, after being sent to the hallway for unruly behavior in the classroom, she met her future husband, Warren Navis, who happened to be the hallway monitor on that day. A farm boy from just outside Prairie View, Warren courted Maida through high school and the two became engaged before Warren left to serve his country in 1941. Maida graduated high school in 1945.
Mrs. Navis married her childhood sweetheart on April 11, 1946 following his return from the European theater of operations. She wore a dress made of parachute silk that Warren brought home from the European front, knowing silk could not be found in the United States at this time. Together they moved to Denver, Colo. and had two daughters, Peggy and Penny.
After a devastating car accident in 1962 that killed her beloved father, Mrs. Navis dedicated her life to serving others. She became the first volunteer coordinator for the Tri County Health Department, and set up a food and clothing bank in her suburban garage.
In 1964, she founded Inter-Faith Task Force, which grew to become the largest social service organization in Arapahoe County, Colo. Under her leadership and commitment, the organization grew to include food, clothing and furniture banks, a housing program, medical transportation, Big Brother/Big Sister program, children’s choir, Adopt a Grandparent program, pre-school and mother’s educational programs, and job training programs. She served as executive director of Inter-Faith Task Force for 20 years.
She received countless awards and recognitions for commitment to community service. In 1970 she received a personal commendation from President Richard Nixon and the First Lady Patricia Nixon, as well as the governor of Colorado. Mrs. Navis was chosen as “Woman of the Year” and “International Woman of the Year” from among four countries by La Sertoma, and was presented the International Humanitarian Award by Circle K International. She was named by the Littleton Independent newspaper as “Woman of the Quarter Century” in 1976 for her positive influence on the people of the greater Littleton area.
She also received accolades as “Grandmother of the Year.” She celebrated the births of her grandchildren Jacine in 1975, Sara in 1982, and Lucas in 1985, the year she retired with her husband.
Maida and Warren moved to Fountain Hills, where she resided in her home until 2010.
Throughout her life Mrs. Navis was active in the Presbyterian churches of both Littleton and Fountain Hills. Her dedication to community service continued into retirement and she was active with the Kiwanis Club and other civic organizations. She founded the “Terrific Kid” program through Kiwanis in Fountain Hills, which she coordinated for over 15 years.
She spent the last year of her life in Payson, close to her daughter Penny and family.
Mrs. Navis is survived by countless dear friends and family members, including her sister and brother-in-law, Gloria and “Barney” Barngrover of Grove, Okla.; daughter and son-in-law, Peggy (Gielinski) Luiszer and Robert Luiszer of Littleton, Colo.; daughter and son-in-law, Penny Navis-Schmidt and Joseph Schmidt of Payson; and grandchildren, Sara Schmidt and Lucas Schmidt.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Warren Navis; and granddaughter, Jacine Gielinski.
A celebration of Mrs. Navis’ life will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 21 in Payson. Please call Penny Navis-Schmidt at (928) 474-2391 for more information. Memorial donations can be made in Maida Navis’ honor to Time Out Shelter, P.O. Box 306, Payson, AZ 85547.
A poem sent to Maida while she was starting Inter-Faith has been an inspiration and motto throughout her life. It reads:
Do not walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Do not walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me and be my friend.