Creating in Quiet Ways

Seventy-Seven-Year-Old Cross Stitcher, Max Peck

Seventy-seven-year-old Max Peck considers his cross stitching more technical than artistic but his wife and friends say his needlework definitely is artistic. It’s a way for him to create and feel a sense of accomplishment.

“I am grateful I can still thread a needle and see the holes in the Aida material I use to cross stitch,” he says. “I think productive hobbies for all ages are exhilarating especially if there is something to show for your effort.

“Hobbies like golf and tennis were not available to me as a young person, so I never developed an interest in them; perhaps laziness plays a part in that. I often send floss, screen, materials, kits to the women at the Senior Centers in Gulfport who like to do handwork and encourage them to keep on creating. Sharing is always good.”

It’s been a long and eventful life for Peck to reach this point in life where he has plenty of time for his stitching hobby. He’s had several careers including serving as an air traffic controller in the U.S. Air Force and later working at the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport.

Peck grew up in Sydney, New York, in a family of six. After high school graduation, he tried to join the Navy because he was enchanted by the big ships. “Though I passed the test, the Navy could not take me in for several months so I went next door to the Air Force Recruiting Office, passed the test, signed up and left in two days.” he recalls.

After basic training, Peck found himself at Keesler Air Force Base for training to become an air traffic controller. “I had always wanted to be a highway patrol man. In my limited experience I assumed the highway might be the ‘sky way’ so I was quite surprised to learn the difference,” he says. “ I fell in love with Biloxi and everything Gulf Coast.”

Spending only six months in Biloxi, he spent the next 30 years of his career trying to get back. That happened when his military service ended and he became manager of the tower at Gulfport-Biloxi Airport. “I loved every minute of it, but after seven years I had a heart attack and had to end the job I truly loved,” he says. “It took several months to recuperate from open heart surgery so I was lazing around enjoying time to read and relax.”

However, his new wife, Jane Stanley, had other ideas and felt he should be active. Thus Peck began another career as a nurse after graduation from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s nursing program.

A long time cross stitcher, Peck began when his beautiful nine-year-old daughter Missy was stricken with leukemia and died. “I had to do something to calm my mind yet still feel I could accomplish tasks. I could sit quietly at night, think about my Missy and make something beautiful for her,” he says.

He has continued to make time for cross stitching feeling the desire to create in a quiet way was influenced years ago by his mother.

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