While Cushman's craft stores in Blackfoot and Pocatello were open for business Monday, the steady stream of those coming in were there to offer their condolences to the Cushman family over the
loss of their mother, businesswoman and longtime Blackfoot resident - Maxine Cushman.
Cushman, 93, died from injuries received in a car accident north of the Fort Hall exit on Interstate 15 Friday evening. Idaho State Police officials said Cushman, who was driving a 2002 Honda Odyssey van, came upon
smoky conditions and slow moving traffic because of some wildfires in the area and rear-ended a 2012 Ford F-250.
Cushman and her husband Victor Andrew "Vic" opened Cushman's Paint and Glass in Blackfoot in 1970 and later opened Cushman's Arts and Crafts in Pocatello.
Her son, Kelly Cushman - the youngest of six children - all raised in Blackfoot, currently operates the Blackfoot store, while Cushman ran the Pocatello store six days a week, still in good health and mentally intact up until the time of her death. "It's just what she did...." Kelly Cushman said of his mother. "The art store was her greatest love...she was an icon in Blackfoot and Pocatello; she loved the people associated with the art world...she was knowledgeable and good at what she did." Kelly Cushman said his mother had been on her own and fiercely independent since their father passed away eight years ago, describing her as "like what flour is to cake batter."
"She was the 'family matriarch' - the one that held us all together," he said. "She grew up during the Depression and that shaped her life. She told us stories...she knew what it was like to have no money."
He added, "She was much wiser than we ever gave her credit for...Mother used to tell us-that when it came to business-make a decision, then move on. Don't waste time stewing about whether it was right or wrong."
"As recently as a couple of years ago, she was still putting in 10-hour work days...she outlasted me...I would feel guilty for being tired when she was twice my age," he joked.
Kelly Cushman said that while the family is saddened and shaken by Cushman's sudden death, they have peace knowing that she died a clean, peaceful and spiritual death.
"A witness at the accident stayed with mother while she passed away," he said. "This person was gracious enough to call us [the family] and assure us that she was not in any pain, she was coherent and could say her name, then she closed her eyes and went to sleep."
Lynda Aird of Blackfoot, a longtime friend and customer of Cushman's. stopped by the store to offer her condolences to the family describing Cushman as "one special lady."
Kelly Cushman, on behalf of the entire
Cushman family, expressed his gratitude to the community and the people who knew his mother for a great outpouring of love and support.
Coincidentally, Kelly Cushman said his mother had mentioned to him recently that she had enjoyed a long life of good health and felt that she has served her life's purpose.
It will be business as usual for the foreseeable future at Cushman's two craft stores.
"It's tough," Kelly Cushman noted, "in reality, none
of us in the family feels adequate when it comes to filling our mother's shoes."
Funeral services for Maxine Cushman are scheduled for Wednesday at 2
p.m. at the Blackfoot 6th LDS Ward, 660 Teton, Blackfoot.