Robert T. (Bob) Maxson was just starting to develop the track team at Mansfield State College when a brain aneurysm claimed his life just before Christmas, 1975. At the age of 45, he had already contributed much to the college. Soon after his death, in April, 1976 the college’s council of trustees voted to name the track in his honor.
Coach Maxson was a native of Shinglehouse, Potter County. He enrolled at Mansfield State Teachers College in 1949 to pursue a degree in secondary education. He was elected class president during his junior year.
Maxson was best remembered, though, for his athletic prowess. He was on the basketball, baseball, and track teams. On the basketball court, he put up a school-high 20 points a game in the 1950-1951 season. The following season, Maxson played basketball with Sam Woodard, who holds the distinction of being the first African-American basketball player at Mansfield.
After graduating from Mansfield in 1952, Maxson earned his master’s degree from the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tenn. He taught in the Bradford School system for 12 years before joining the faculty at his alma mater, now called Mansfield State College in 1967. He was an associate professor in the college’s health and physical education department. The following year, he instituted track and field as a sport at Mansfield.
At Mansfield, Maxson was best known as the track and cross country coach. Under his tutelage, the 1972 squad compiled a record of 8-4-1. Some of his top athletes included Tom DeRitis, Rich Taulton, and Leon Haskins. DeRitis finished fourth at the 1975 conference meet, the highest for a Mansfield runner at the time. He still holds the Mansfield record for the outdoor mile with a time of 4:18.0. Taulton and Leon Haskins both earned All-American honors. Taulton earned the honor for running the 120 yard high hurdles in 1975 while Haskins earned it for the triple jump in 1976.
According to his obituary, Maxson finally had the time to develop the track program and was looking forward to the upcoming season. He was replaced by Ed Winrow, who praised the runners that Maxson had recruited to Mansfield.
In addition to his work in the classroom and on the track, Maxson also served as assistant basketball coach under Ed Wilson. During that time, the team suffered only one losing season and they were crowned state champions for the 1974-1975 season. Unfortunately, that team lost the first round of the Division III playoffs to Glassboro (N.J.) 60-49. (Mansfield began playing Division II sports in 1984, when the state-owned colleges became universities.)
Maxson passed away Dec. 18, 1975 at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. He left behind a wife, the former Sara Mae Livingstone and their children Kathi, Carolyn, and David.