Max Charles Specht, a longtime resident of Lompoc, CA and former Chairman of the Photography Department at Santa Monica College, died November 30, just nine months after his beloved wife, Lorraine Baty Specht. He was 85.
Max was born in Wichita, Kansas, on September 28, 1922 to Lota and Gus Specht. He was the third of what would eventually be seven boys (and one girl) in the family, who lived in Garden City, Kansas. Although they lived in town, the Spechts spent every summer working the nearby family farm.
He was an exceptional student, and a model young citizen. His pastor wrote that he was one of the most honorable young men he knew. He was labeled an “honor camper ” at Camp Christy Baptist Camp for four years in a row beginning when he was 13. It was at Camp Christy that he discovered a lifelong love: photography.
After graduating high school, Max began attending college. When it became impossible to cover expenses, he decided to put his education on hold and join his brother Vince working in the booming aircraft industry in California. At 16, he and a group of friends hitchhiked from Kansas to Inglewood, CA. From 1938 on, he was a Californian for good.
When the United States entered World War II, Max enlisted in the Army Air Corps and flew a wide range of twin-engine planes in the Pacific theater. His aptitude caused the Air Corps to send him to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and it was there he met Lorraine Baty around Christmas time 1943. After a year of letters, phone calls and short leaves, the young couple married in March 1945 in Tulsa, Oklahoma and spent every Christmas together for the rest of their lives.
When the war ended, Max decided to use the GI bill and get a teaching credential, and wound up as an instructor of photography at Santa Monica College. He spent the next 30 years sharing his passion with thousands of students, many of whom went on to become top professional photographers throughout California and the West.
Max and Lorraine were blessed with a son, James Max, and a daughter, Linda Kay. The young family moved to a house on Paula Drive in Santa Monica, where they became a vital part of the community for the next 30 years.
Max and Lorraine supported their children’s activities with energy and dedication. Their efforts were honored by a series of organizations, ranging from Little League and PTA to the Masonic youth groups Jobs Daughters and DeMolay. When the kids grew up, Max and Lorraine stayed active in groups like the Elks and Moose. Max was eventually elected governor of the Santa Monica Moose Lodge.
Their loving care and dedication to high standards helped lead their children through college and into successful careers. Jim is now Deputy Chief of Staff to a congressman; Linda is Director of Quality & Risk Management for Lompoc Healthcare District.
Max retired in 1988 after more than 30 years in education. He and Lorraine moved to Lompoc to be near Linda and her husband Terry Banner, and especially to be close to their two grandsons, Curtis and Brandon. They were also delighted to spend more time with Terry’s older children: Lori, Terry, Tina and Casey.
When Terry, the former commander of the California Highway Patrol in Buellton, died suddenly in 1990, Max and Lorraine stepped in quickly to help and became extremely close to Curtis and Brandon. They were enthusiastic fans at baseball, wrestling and water polo events as the boys excelled in sports. They helped organize and host a reception when Linda married California Highway Patrol Officer Jim Everly of Lompoc in 1992. Their extended family grew again, and they now were considered loving grandparents of Jim’s children: Cheryl, Kristine and Stacy.
In 1996, Max and Lorraine were delighted to fly to Washington, D.C. to visit Jim and his wife, Erin Kelly – and their new granddaughter, Clare. Although they lived 3,000 miles apart, Clare always felt their special love.
In the past few years, Lorraine began to suffer serious health problems, and Max devoted himself to caring for her. He cooked, cleaned and served as a nurse when she was bedridden, and stayed by her side constantly until she died last February from complications of cancer.
Although terribly lonely without the love of his life, Max was sustained by the love and fellowship of his friends at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. He returned to Washington in mid-November to celebrate Thanksgiving with Jim, Erin, Linda, Clare and Brandon, and to visit the World War II Memorial for the first time. He came home in good spirits, ready to begin the holiday season he and Lorraine always loved.
The day after he returned, Max suffered a massive stroke. He was taken to Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, where doctors found severe damage. He lingered for a few days as his family gathered around him. But as some of the first Christmas carols played softly in the early morning of November 30, he slipped away to join his Lorraine. They would be together for the holidays again.
Max Charles Specht is survived by his brothers Vincent Specht, Howard Specht, Gale Specht and sister Bobbie Issetts, in addition to his children and grandchildren.
A memorial service for Max will take place on Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 12:00 noon at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Lompoc, California.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Max’s name to the Lompoc Hospital Foundation, P. O. Box 883, Lompoc, CA 93438.
Arrangements are under the direction of Starbuck-Lind Mortuary.