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Ex-North American CEO, local leader dies

Kenneth Wayne Maxfield, a well-respected and successful local businessman known for his leadership at North American Van Lines, died Sunday in Fort Wayne.

Maxfield, 88, was a native of Leo and worked his way up through the ranks at North American after joining the company in November 1950 as office counsel.

Maxfield attended Leo High School and then studied pre-law at Loyola University and received his law degree from DePaul University College of Law.

He also served as an Army sergeant from 1943 to 1946 in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.

In 1957, Maxfield was named executive assistant to the president and six years later he became president of the firm’s Canadian operation Westmount Moving & Storage in Montreal, Quebec.

In 1966, he returned to Fort Wayne and was appointed executive vice president of North American Van Lines. He was also selected to attend the advanced management program at Harvard University, a program designed for executives being groomed for top management positions.

A year later, he was named executive vice president of North American.

PepsiCo purchased North American Van Lines in 1969 and Maxfield became known for keeping the company headquarters in Fort Wayne after the company wanted it to move.

Maxfield was named president of North American in 1977 and increased profit seven times from $7 million to $50 million during his tenure.

During his 11 years as chairman, CEO and president, Maxfield continued to grow North American’s revenue from $256 million to $844 million by the end of 1988.

He retired in October 1989 after spending 39 years with North American. He was replaced by Joseph D. Ruffolo.

Maxfield served as director of Fort Wayne National Bank, president of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and president of the Junior Achievement Board of Directors for northeastern Indiana.

He was also a member of the Indiana and Illinois Bar Associations, the Chicago Regional Export Expansion Council, Mad Anthonys, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Medical Education Board and was a member of Rotary.

He served as vice president at-large for the American Trucking Associations, Inc. and was a member of the board of directors and executive council of the ATA, vice chairman of the ATA litigation center and member of the board of trustees of the ATA Foundation.

He served as vice chairman of the Household Goods Carriers Bureau and was a member of the Fort Wayne Board of Aviation Commissioners, which oversaw the operation of Baer and Smith fields, from 1976 to 1980.

In 1992, he was inducted into the Greater Fort Wayne Business Hall of Fame.

In 1947, he married Jean Sanderfur-Maxfield. The couple had two children, Kenneth Wayne Maxfield, Jr. of Indianapolis and Laurie Maxfield-Woodward of Carmel.

His first wife preceded him in death and he married Beverly Koeneman-Wehrenberg Maxfield.

He also has a step-son, Scott H. Wehrenberg of Fremont, and a step-daughter, Lynn A. Wehrenberg of Fort Wayne, as well as several grandchildren and a great-grandson.

Maxfield enjoyed golf, hunting, fishing and boating.

Maxfield’s service is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Trinity English Lutheran Church, 405 West Wayne Street with the calling one hour prior to service. There will also be a calling at D.O. McComb and Sons Covington Knolls Funeral Home, 8325 Covington Road Friday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m.

Entombment will be at Greenlawn Memorial Park.

Memorials may be made to the Trinity English Lutheran Church, Junior Achievement of Greater Fort Wayne, the Maxfield Scholarship at IPFW, or the Maxfield Charitable Fund at Community Foundation of Fort Wayne.

jcrothers@jg.net

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