Late board member remembered for wisdom, kindness

As children played on a nearby field, friends and family shared smiles, tears and fond memories during a ceremony to honor our late board member Max Mukelabai.

Max’s wife, Patience; their daughters Ruvarashe and Rutendo; and many friends and family members joined CTNC staff and board members on May 18 as we unveiled a plaque commemorating Max in Durham’s Northgate Park.

A newly planted magnolia tree towered over the bronze marker, its slender branches stirred by a spring breeze, while other park visitors walked by, enjoying the sunny, warm day. The Mukelabais, too, have been regular visitors to the park over the years.

CTNC board President John Wilson and Executive Director Reid Wilson each paid tribute to Max’s dedication to his community and his family, his wisdom, and his kindness.

“What do I miss most about Max?” Reid Wilson asked. “I miss his smile. He had that very human warmth and compassion.”

Mukelabai died suddenly on July 8, 2011, at the age of 38. He was principal of Maximo Mukelabai, CPA, PC, in Durham and had served on CTNC’s board for three years, helping us to maintain financial stability as the economy soured.

Shortly before his death, he had been elected chairman of the N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants and was also chief financial officer for the North Carolina Community Development Initiative, a public-private partnership that supports community economic development.

Patience Mukelabai described how she still finds it difficult to believe Max is gone but noted that – through his friends – she is still learning new things about him.

“Max always made sure he put his all into everything he did,” she said. “I will continue to make sure the community remembers him. He is still touching people after his death.”