A life-long resident of Frankfort, George Maxwell Fowler, known to most simply as “Max”, was born on July 6, 1889, the second son of George Y. and Christina Kramer Fowler. While yet a boy, Max became involved with work at the Frankfort Morning Times, owned and published by his father. During the early 1900s, chronic health problems caused G.Y. to spend winters with his family in the Daytona Beach, FL, area. While there, Max studied navigation and in January of 1900 he earned a first-class pilot’s license, becoming, at 10 years of age, the youngest steamship pilot in the country at that time! He subsequently worked on private yachts and, under special dispensation, was allowed to navigate on inland and coastal waterways during the family’s periodic visits to Florida.
In 1907, shortly after Max had begun his sophomore year at Frankfort High School, his father suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and Max dropped out of school to take over management of the paper—an endeavor he pursued for the following 53 years. In 1912 Max directed the purchase of a Webb perfecting press, following his father’s lead in securing the latest state-of-the-art machinery.
When G.Y. died in 1914, Max and his two brothers, Raymond (1884-1932) and Walter (1890-1939), created G.Y. Fowler’s Sons, Inc., newspaper publishers and commercial printers. Max continued to edit the paper and, upon his brothers’ deaths in the 1930s, became the sole active family member in the business, continuing to direct the Times as president and general manager until his death in 1960.
In addition to his dedication to the newspaper business, Max was a devoted family man. On June 10, 1912, he married Lillian Pauline Closson, also of Frankfort, and in July of 1914 their first, and only, child—Virginia Beverly Fowler—was born. She subsequently married Tom Heth and gave Max three grandchildren, Anne, Philip, and John, whom he cherished and who loved him dearly in return.
In addition to his work, his family, and his love of photography, Max was extremely active in a wide range of civic activities. Included among the many positions he held at various times over the years were membership on the Board of Police Commissioners of Frankfort, the Rotary Club, the Elks Club, Frankfort Country Club, the Moose Lodge, the Isaac Walton League, the Waltonians, and Sigma Delta Chi national professional journalistic fraternity. In addition, he was at one time a trustee of the Clinton County Hospital, a director of the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the Presbyterian Church. His greatest commitment, and the consuming passion of his life, however, was the Masonic Order, of which he became a lifelong member in 1914. He subsequently received the 33° honor of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Jurisdiction, at Pittsburgh, PA, in 1946 and was Grand Commander of the Knights Templar of Indiana in 1951-52. In 1955 he was appointed Right Eminent Department Commander of the subordinate Commanderies of the Grand Encampment in the U.S.A. Under his jurisdiction were the Commanderies located in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Panama Canal Zone, Alaska, Hawaii, Okinawa, Manila, Japan, Guam, and Germany. As the Department Commander, Max, along with his wife Pauline, toured the Far East for 6 weeks in early 1958, visiting many of these Commanderies and afterwards writing a booklet titled “Fabulous and Fantastic” detailing their adventures.
In declining health for a number of years, Max Fowler suffered a cerebral thrombosis on May 18, 1960, and passed away at Clinton County Hospital two weeks later on June 2 nd . Sadly missed by family and friends, he was buried at Greenlawn Cemetery in Frankfort.