Max Cash Retires as Mayor and Public Servant

by Marie S. Dillenbeck

Originally Published in The Groundhog

Volume 18, Number 9, September 2000


Max Cash was the ninth individual to be mayor of Mentone. On August 8, 1989, Max Cash finished the remaining term of Rob Hammond who resigned due to the growing concerns of Camp Laney. Max said Rob didn't want to run again, but he told Rob he would fill out his term if the council saw fit--they did. Max has also been on the town council since 1960.

Mayor Max Cash in the town meeting hall standing in front of one of the quilts hanging in the hall.  He does, indeed, "love Mentone", having served many years as a public servant.

Born Nov. 24, 1924, to parents Albert Cash and Cassie Cash, he attended Moon Lake School, and graduated from Valley Head High School. He attended, for a short time, the University of Chattanooga.

Max worked with his father who was a well-known carpenter and rock mason responsible for many lasting structures in and around Mentone. After he and Roberta married, he worked with a construction firm which employed her father as superintendent.

Max and Roberta, who have been married 52 years, have six children: Anita Banks, Larry Cash, Susan Hooks, Bruce Wayne Cash, Phillip Cash, Neil Cash (deceased), and Ann Harrell. Their spouses and grandchildren, respectively, are Ben and Seth Banks, Marion, Ind.; Barbara, Allison and Jordan Cash, Anchorage, Alaska; Larry, Kyle and Cassie Hooks, Mentone, Ala.; Robin, Katie, B. J. and Lydia Cash, Austin, Tex; and Leslie, Matthew, Lindsay and Corey Cash, Austin, Tex. Daughter, Ann is from Dalton, Ga.

Max served in the 11th Air Force as a radio operator and was stationed in Alaska. In 1948, a group of World War II veterans in Mentone organized American Legion Post 215 for their community. Their first commander was Sammy Cash. Charter members were: Leonard Shigley, Max Cash, Luther King Jr., Sammy Cash, and Leland Cox. Today, American Legion Post 215 continues to be an active community organization in Mentone. Mr. Cash said, "In WWII, seven men from the Mentone area were killed, the most for a town of its size in Alabama."

Prior to being mayor, Max was a rural mail carrier for 36 years. E. T. York, U.S. Postal mail carrier for many years, inspired Max to apply for the position as rural mail carrier. "I would see Mr. York riding by and putting mail in the boxes and saw the good part of a mail carrier's job, and it was a job I wanted to do." In February 1952, U.S. Representative Albert Rains appointed Max, who was 27 years old. Max retired on Feb. 3, 1988, after having served continuously as a rural mail carrier for 36 years.

Max Cash had been such an important part of the life of Mentone's rural community with his friendly greeting. Those on the route remember his dedication and kindness during those years. That same dedication and kindness has continued. It's just part of Max, and he wanted to give something back to his community.

During the time he was a rural mail carrier, Max was also on the town council, serving one time as Mayor. He resigned when it interfered with his route.

Family and friends surprised Max on Friday, November 26. The children and grandchildren of Max and Roberta Cash planned the 75th birthday celebration in his honor. It was held at Riverview Camp for Girls in the dining hall.

Guests were invited to "come join us for 'Low Country Shrimp Boil' with lots of music and lots of food and fun."

Members of the present council and other employees of the town had the following comments. Linda Brown said, "I want to personally thank Mayor Max Cash for his many years of service to the town of Mentone. I have worked with Max and the town on several projects, and he is always a joy to work with. He is one of the most considerate and cooperative people I have ever known. While serving on the town council during part of his term as mayor, I have found that, if he is faced with a question that he doesn't know the answer to, he will say that he doesn't know; but he will research the issue and find the answer--and he always does. I think that this may be one of the best attributes a person can have.

"Max is always courteous and makes sure that everyone gets a chance to present their view. Besides being such a nice person, Max has the ability to see what needs to be done and then take the appropriate steps to accomplish the job. Max Cash is a true gentleman, in every sense of the word."

James Johnson, who served at various times under former mayors, C. E. Harvey, Sam Barrett, Robert L. Daniel, and Rob Hammond, said, "It was very much a pleasure to serve with Max. He gave his time for the good of the town. Because of his experience in different types of work, he was able to do things for the town that they would otherwise have had to hire help. Max was devoted to his job and the town!"

From John Corey, "I remember one day having a customer in the store. He said, 'I would like to be mayor of the little town of Mentone--just sit back, kick my feet up, and relax.' I told him to look out the window. That's the mayor out there digging up water lines with Jimmy Worthey to find a water leak. There may be a little more to being mayor than that.

Jean McGehee' said. "I first appreciated Max Cash's leadership when he was a member of the board of the Heritage Foundation when it was trying to get the Mentone Springs Hotel for a community center / welcome center / museum. He was a wonderful board member. Since then, I have admired his almost daily presence in the town hall and for his many years of dedication to the town of Mentone as mayor."

Jimmy Worthey of the Mentone Water Department said, "It has been fine working with him. I have enjoyed every bit of it, even digging ditches with him. He is a real good man to work for. I liked working with Max. He has been a good boss."

Catherine Bailey, who was Town Clerk for 20 years, from 1976 to 1996, said "It was good working with him. He left me alone to do my job. He was good to work with."

Dick Keefer: "I was appointed and had never been in politics. I was new and didn't know what to expect. Max was a calming influence at all council meetings and kept everything under control."

Street and Parks Superintendent, H. P. Goss, said he had worked with Max for eight years, and before that he worked with Rob Hammond. He worked for the water department under Sam Barrett. "Max and I got along just fine as long as he has been mayor. I promised him that I would stay with him the last time he ran."

Police Chief Johnny Ferguson: "I have the highest respect for Mayor Max Cash. I have worked under him for 10-1/2 years and I think he is the most honorable mayor I have ever seen. I have seen him get down in mud with a pick and shovel in 20 degree weather fixing water breaks and stay up all night long, and the next day still working on them. That really impressed me that a mayor would do that. I have seen him take verbal abuse from people that didn't know what they were talking about, yet he stayed calm and took it. He has always been firm, but fair with the police department. I don't think he would ask us to do anything that he wouldn't do himself. 'Mayor Cash, I salute you for a job well done."

Kathryn Jones, former principal and teacher at Moon Lake school, has made the statement many times, "In all my 34 years of work at Moon Lake School, I have never had a patron who was more supportive in every way than Max Cash. He never failed to do anything I asked, and many times he saw the need without my asking. He is a fine man and has reared a wonderful family."

Daughter, Susan Hooks had this to say. "One thing I remember is that when anyone asked me what we (all his children) attribute to our family successes, I told them, 'My father prayed for us every day of our lives. He still prays for each of us by name, including all of the grandchildren. I have heard him, and I thank God he is my father."

Max said he has enjoyed working with council members, clerks, and all other employees of the town over the years. Now, he is looking forward to retirement for the second time.

At the time of the writing of this article, Max and Roberta, daughter, Ann Harrell, and other members of the family, have gone to Hilton Head for a week. Max will be back just in time for the September council meeting on Sept. 11.

Max said he loves people and takes great pleasure in talking to them. He always has time for those who come to him about town matters or about fun matters.

Max's hobbies include fishing, hunting, boating, swimming, and ice-skating--loves to go to the rink in Huntsville--and wishes one were closer. Maybe now, he will have more time to do those things that relax him most.


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