Victoria J. Maxwell, a native of Liberia who traveled the world and had many occupations, from translator to principal to pianist, settled on Buffalo's East Side in the 1960s, becoming a popular spiritual adviser.
A petite woman whose tea leaf readings were blunt and humorous and appealed to many Western New Yorkers, Mrs. Maxwell died Jan. 26 in Grace Manor Health Care Facility after a brief illness. She was 98.
Born Victoria Johnson to a prominent political family in Monrovia, Liberia, she was the great-granddaughter of Elijah Johnson, one of the freed American slaves who helped establish the West African country.
Her grandfather, Hilary Wright Johnson, was the first Liberian-born president; and her father, Frederick Johnson, was chief justice of the country's supreme court. Her cousin, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, was recently inaugurated as president of Liberia, becoming the country's -- and the African continent's -- first woman president.
Mrs. Maxwell earned a bachelor's degree in languages at a college in Hamburg, Germany. She also studied in England, France and Switzerland.
For a year, she worked for Gewerkschaft Corp. in Duesseldorf, Germany, and translated the Kaiser Engineer International textbook from English to French and German.
Returning to Liberia, Mrs. Maxwell worked as a translator for the government. She was also a Pan American World Airways representative and principal of AME Zion School in Liberia for two years.
She moved to America in the early 1960s and married Samuel H. Maxwell of Buffalo in 1969. He died in 1983.
In Buffalo, she worked as an arts and crafts instructor for two years at the African Cultural Center. She also was an instructor at the Ingleside Home for Unwed Mothers and the 1490 Senior Citizens on Jefferson Avenue, where she served as a pianist.
Surviving are two daughters, Marie Johnson Bowman of Buffalo and Delores Wilkes of Boston, Mass.; three sons, Frederick Johnson of Worcester, Mass., Aku Johnson of Houston and Charles Johnson of Monrovia; and six grandchildren.
Services will be at noon Saturday in Amigone Funeral Home, 1132 Delaware Ave. Burial will be in Forest Lawn.
-- Emma D. Sapong