SANTA CRUZ -- The boy that would grow up to be the love of Maxine Lane's life moved in across the street from her Cedar Rapids home when she was 11.

"That was the luckiest day of my life," she said.

The couple were in high school when World War II began, and she volunteered in the local rationing department. Families could only have a certain amount of products such as sugar and flour, a stark contrast to today's world of excess, she said.

"It was all together different," she said of that time. "The morals were all together different."

Bruce Lane joined the Army, and Lane's father wanted her to wait to get married until Bruce earned a college degree. With help from the GI Bill, he earned a degree in mechanical engineering in just three years, and the couple married on Sept. 10, 1949.

"Getting married was the highlight of my life," she said.

The couple honeymooned in Bermuda, foreshadowing a life of adventure the pair would have. They traveled to every continent, watching penguins in the Antarctic and riding elephants through Nepal while photographing rhinos.

The couple, who were told by a doctor that they could not have children, moved to Berkeley in the early 1950s so Bruce could study architecture at UC Berkeley. A month and a half later, they discovered they were expecting their first child. They went on to have three more.

"My husband said he'd like to parade them in front of the doctor," she said.

Some of Lane's adventures are chronicled in the book, "The Lane Family," which her husband was working on at the time of his unexpected death in October 2008. She and family members helped finish the book and made copies for friends and family.

Lane, who worked at UCSC for more than 20 years, remains active in the community, working with several nonprofits where she specializes in raising funds for scholarships. She also spends up to six hours a day tending to her yard.

"Luckily I have good knees at almost 87," she said. "I love propagating plants, I love thinking of things to do in the yard."

Gardening and tackling landscape projects are her passion, and something she and her husband used to do together. The pair would often work for a few hours in the yard, then head downtown to the old India Joze, where Lane could satisfy her craving for spicy food.

No one could have know that the boy across the street would grow up to be Lane's Prince Charming.

"I didn't know he would take me all over the world," she said. "He was one in a million. Looking back, he was one in 5 million."

Getting to Know

Maxine Lane


Born: Born Maxine Laura Smith on July 6, 1926
Birthplace: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Children: Bruce II of Southern California; Linda of La Selva Beach; Joyce of Gilroy; and David of Rio Del Mar; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren
Education: Lane earned a business degree from what is now Mount Mercy University in Iowa and went on to earn a management degree from Saint Mary's College in Moraga.
Volunteer work: Lane works with several nonprofits including the UCSC Women's Club garden group, the La Selva Beach Woman's Club and the UCSC Retiree Association, which created the Bruce Lane Memorial Scholarship Endowment in recognition of her husband. The scholarships are awarded to military veterans and others. 'They thought a lot of my husband,' she said.
Travels: Lane and her husband Bruce traveled to more than 70 countries over all of the continents. The most exciting trip was coming back from Antarctica on a Russian icebreaker while enduring hurricane-force winds.
UCSC connection: After moving to Walnut Creek, Bruce landed a job as a project architect working on a new university in Santa Cruz. He commuted for years, then the family made Santa Cruz its home in 1965. Bruce designed their Pasatiempo house, the only home he ever designed, and Lane still lives there today. Bruce went on to serve as the director of the educational facilities planning office at UCSC. Lane started her career as a secretary out of college, and worked on and off in that field until beginning her career at UCSC in the late 1960s. The pair would commute together every day. She worked her way up from secretary to the director of the contracts and grants office at UCSC, a position she held until both she and her husband retired in 1991.