Saying Goodbye

Former professor and academic dean Malcolm Maxwell passes away at 73

By: Becky St. Clair

Maxwell served at WWU for nearly 20 years.

Dr. Malcom Maxwell, former professor and VP of Academic Administration at Walla Walla University, passed away on October 1, 2007, at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 73 years old.

Following his graduation from PUC in 1956 with degrees in theology and biblical languages, Maxwell obtained a master of arts in systematic theology at Andrews University. He then went on to earn his doctorate in biblical studies, specializing in New Testament, at Drew University in New Jersey. During his time at Drew, Maxwell was honored as a Rockefeller Fellow and Drew University Scholar.

Maxwell served as professor, chair, and dean in the WWU School of Theology from 1965 until 1978, when he became VP for Academic Administration. In 1981, he returned to the Theology department to teach again. He remained there until June 1983, when he accepted the call to act as President for Pacific Union College in Angwin, Calif.

"Malcolm was an extremely popular teacher," remembers John Brunt, pastor of the Azure Hills Adventist Church in Azure Hills, Calif., and former professor and Academic Dean for WWU. "Malcolm often had 150 students in his class. Everyone wanted to be there."

Known for his cheerful, resonant voice, and his ability to create an atmosphere where people enjoyed working, Maxwell also had a reputation for curiosity. "He was interested in everything," says Brunt. "No matter what the subject was, he wanted to learn about it. He had a curiosity that wouldn't stop." Brunt worked with Maxwell for several years in the Theology department at WWU.

Alden Thompson, professor of Biblical studies at WWU, remembers his early years working with Maxwell in the WWU Theology department. "I was immediately impressed by how Dr. Maxwell provided buoyant and eager support of younger colleagues," he says. "It was his personal attention to each of us that was and is so memorable. I will be eternally grateful to him as a mentor, colleague, and friend."

Maxwell and his late wife, Eileen, met at PUC as students, and were married for 52 years. As they prepared in April 2007 to move to Arizona to be near family, Eileen passed away.

"Right up to the end, you would never know he was sick," says Brunt. "He still kept that same cheerful, deep voice. Two weeks ago I asked him how he kept his courage up so positively. He responded, ‘Why shouldn't I? We have hope.' "

At this time, the family requests no phone calls. A memorial service for Maxwell will be held at the Pacific Union College Church sometime later this month.

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