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Cal mourns passing of Brian Maxwell, former coach, runner, PowerBar founder, and philanthropist

Memorial service scheduled for noon April 2 at Haas Pavilion

– UC Berkeley is mourning the sudden death of Brian Maxwell, the former Cal track star and coach who, along with his wife, founded the PowerBar company. Maxwell, who had just turned 51, died of an apparent heart attack near his home in Ross, California, on March 19.

Brian Maxwell
Brian Maxwell, running for Cal in 1973

Maxwell graduated from UC Berkeley in 1975 with a degree in architecture and was honored with the Brutus Hamilton Award for his achievements on the school's track team. He went on to coach the Golden Bears in distance running and in 1977, was ranked as the No. 3 marathon runner in the world. Maxwell grew up in Toronto, represented Canada in a number of international competitions, and was part of the 1980 Olympic team that boycotted the games in Moscow.

Maxwell and his wife, Jennifer, were pioneers in the field of energy supplements. The idea for the PowerBar came after Maxwell "bonked" at the 21-mile mark in a marathon — the point at which the body has completely burned through its stored carbohydrates. Maxwell worked with Jennifer, a nutritionist who was his girlfriend at the time, to come up with an energy bar that athletes could eat before and during events. In 1986, they began making PowerBars in their kitchen. By the time they sold the company in 2000 to Nestle SA, its annual revenue had reached some $30 million.

Both Brian and Jennifer Maxwell have been longtime members of the Cal community. Jennifer graduated from UC Berkeley in 1988 with a degree in nutrition and food science. Over the years, the couple have been generous contributors to the Berkeley campus, donating to the Haas Pavilion renovation project and the athletic department's Academic Study Center. Last summer, Kleeberger Field was renamed Maxwell Family Field after the Maxwells underwrote the full cost of replacing its artificial turf.

Speaking for the university, Paul Gray, executive vice chancellor and provost, said, "The entire Cal family mourns Brian's untimely passing. A visionary leader, Brian's advice and philanthropy were crucial elements in maintaining excellence on campus."

Donald McQuade, vice chancellor, University Relations, said, Maxwell's sudden death was a stunning loss for the entire Cal family.

"Brian Maxwell's life and dedication to UC Berkeley exemplify the highest standards of charitable good will and spirited advocacy," said McQuade. "From his exuberant court-side cheering at Cal basketball to his determined support of building a world-class program in track, Brian seized every opportunity to champion excellence in athletics and academics. His legacy is everywhere evident at Cal – in its improved facilities for competition (the Maxwell Family Field), in the Faculty Chair in Maternal and Child Health in the School of Public Health, the Bancroft Library, and in the research activities of the Brian and Jennifer Maxwell Center for Human Performance in the Haas Pavilion. We offer our deepest condolences to his wife, Jennifer, and to their six children. His stalwart spirit and unsurpassed dedication to Cal will always inspire us."

Additional information:

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