Obituary: Max Mote
July 24, 1929 – October 14, 2021
Max Ethan Mote passed away in the company of his wife Hsiao-lan in their Denver home. He was born in Las Vegas, New Mexico, to Louise and Ross Mote — the 7th of 10 children, 9 boys. He grew up in Denver and held several jobs, was a choir boy and acolyte at St. Johns Episcopal Cathedral as well as a Golden Gloves boxer. Diverse interests and capabilities continued to be a hallmark of Max’s life — a voracious reader, there was little he wouldn’t discuss, try, and do. His insatiable curiosity led him through a lengthy formal education before and after the Korean War where he served as an Army intelligence officer stationed in Germany. He earned a PhD in Political Science after attending 9 universities. He traveled extensively through Europe spending years in England, Germany, and Lennigrad where he documented Soviet elections late in Kruschev’s era.
After returning to the states in 1963, Max and his brother Jim took ranching jobs near Lake Granby with the goal of finding mountain property for their brother Wade. The 3 history scholars spent most of the next 50 summers designing and building several houses on the land they purchased from the Graves, Gould, and Hill families in Granby. The houses were regularly filled with family and friends and the amazing aroma of Hsiao-lan’s gourmet Chinese cooking.
Max’s primary career as a professor was at the University of Alberta in Edmonton where he taught Soviet political science for almost 25 years. Prior to that he worked a wide variety of jobs involving janitorial, surveying, steel working, masonry, and police work. His favorite vocation was as a largely self taught craftsman skilled at drafting, carpentry, metal work, and masonry — famously over designing the slightest thing to Sherman tank standards. The whole family pitched in building things at Granby, Denver, and Princeton. His wife of 13 years, Hsiao-lan, was the chief architect, foreman, and coworker who kept the boys on task, well fed, and mostly sober.
Sports were a life-long passion including archery, target shooting, nordic skiing — even gymnastics and a solo parachute jump in his 70s. Regular camping and fly fishing trips took him, Wade, and Hsiao-lan to the most beautiful spots in Colorado.
He had an arsenal of jokes and one liners rated G to X and an endless array of songs he could sing or whistle for any occasion. His musical idols included Verdi, Callas, Handel, and Johnny Cash. Politics was a hot topic amongst the conservative Mote siblings. Max thoroughly knew and despised the Nazi and Communist movements and vehemently opposed anything he felt resembled them.
His family mattered most. There was a good chance any of his 58 siblings, nieces, and nephews would get a hand typed postcard from Max personally sharing some event or idea he thought would be of interest. He was the last of his generation to pass and will be deeply missed by friends and family who knew how he, “always woke up welcoming the day, never dreading it.”
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