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Edward G. Malan: A Great Man Passes Over the Rainbo

Dr. Edward William Malan died September 6, 2011 at the age of 88 in Riverside where he was a resident for 36 years. He is survived by his wife, Peggy, and his children Brent Malan (Debbie) and Melinna Malan-Nicely (Jeff), step-daughters Robin Speer (Mark) and Kelly Hatfield (Rob), eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, as well as three sisters, Ethel Lanning, Jean Brock and Phyllis Corn. He was preceded in death by his son, Gregg Malan.

Ed loved and was loved by many people who were touched by the profound nature of his faith which he expressed in every aspect of his life, a model for the rest of us. We will remember the lessons he taught us – service to others and to country, stewardship of the earth and ALL of her people, and that, without a smile and laughter, life would be dull indeed.

Edward W. Malan was born in Delano, California in August of 1923 to a Methodist minister and his wife, Rev. William E. and Myrtha Malan. When Ed was just 14, his father died on Easter Sunday prompting Ed to believe his own life should be dedicated to the service of others. His mother gave him his love of music, playing Moonlight Sonata on the piano as he fell asleep each night.

The Great Depression also influenced his early life when Ed sold newspapers on a street corner in El Centro. In his own words, Ed learned to “get along without stuff and enjoy people.” His love of and involvement in sports also grew as he was named All-Conference in high school football. He chose Pomona College for higher education, focusing on sociology, and continued football there, winning the frosh football award. But Uncle Sam needed Ed, and he interrupted his studies at Pomona College to fight in World War II.

In 1943, between Ed’s sophomore and junior years, Ed was selected to lead a contingent of 41 Pomona College men who left Pomona together for the US Army. Serving in the 42nd Rainbow Division in Europe, Ed distinguished himself in heavy fighting during the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp earning a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. During one bout of fighting in Alsace-Lorraine, a friend of Ed’s asked him to trade places. Although Ed did not understand why this request was made, he nonetheless agreed. About five minutes later, his friend received a direct hit and was killed. From that moment on, Edward felt that he was responsible for living for both himself and his friend.

As the hundredth man into Dachau, Ed saw the horrors of hatred and intolerance which inspired him to work toward acceptance of all people for the rest of his life. After the war, but while still serving in Europe, Ed’s love of people and democracy blossomed in the small Bavarian town of Hausham where he orchestrated the first free election in post-war Germany (the townspeople elected the local barber to be their mayor). His love of sports continued to bloom there as he played football with the 42nd Division.

After WWII, Ed settled in Claremont with his first wife, Melna. He also returned home to Pomona College where he lettered in football and baseball. Discovering his life’s passion, he changed his major to physical education and athletics and graduated in 1948. During this time, Ed earned his master’s degree from Claremont Graduate School (‘50) and his Ed. D from UCLA (’60), but his greatest joys were his three beautiful children, Gregg, Brent and Melinna. Ed served as a counselor in the summers at Plantation, a farm camp where he taught children (including his own) skills like raising animals, growing food, swimming and sailing, sports and, of course, love of nature and kindness to others. He taught the children to work hard, to appreciate what they had, and to think for themselves. Mostly, he taught them love and compassion by example.

Ed’s professional life included teaching classes at Pomona College where he became a part of the faculty in 1950 which began an extraordinary 39-year tenure in the physical education department. In 1960, Ed became the Director of Athletics. His work at Pomona included coaching football, track and golf, equalizing men’s and women’s athletics, serving on National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) committees as well as becoming a member of the NCAA council. Ed was instrumental in planning new facilities for the Pomona campus. In 1958, Ed founded the Athletic Hall of Fame and oversaw its induction ceremonies for 42 years. In 1986, his son, Brent was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and in 1989, Ed was awarded an honorary induction himself. In 2001, Ed received the Pomona College Alumni Distinguished Service award. It is impossible to know the number of lives he touched and changed.

Ed served on the City Council of Claremont for two terms beginning in 1962, interrupted by his sabbatical spent in Europe where he lectured at physical education academies in Athens and Copenhagen. During the turbulent years of Viet Nam protests and the shooting at Kent State, Ed served as the mayor of Claremont (1970-1972). Mayor Malan joined students on a peace march through town, which wasn’t popular with some, but Ed knew it was the right thing to do. He accepted all opinions and often served as a mediator when passions flared.

In 1975, after 31 years in Claremont, Ed continued working at Pomona College, but moved to Riverside to marry the Peg O’ His Heart, wife Peggy. As a member of a new community, he served on the parks and recreation committee for Riverside as he had for Claremont. He also served on the board of his home-owner’s association, many different committees at Grace United Methodist Church, and at the same time supported the Sierra Club and worked to save Mono Lake in the eastern Sierras. For many years, Ed sat on the board of directors of the David and Margaret Home in La Verne and the board of the Joan Macy School. He also sat on the board of the United Campus Ministries at the University of California at Riverside.

In 1989, Ed retired from his beloved Pomona College, but continued to support his school as a professor emeritus and a member of the board of directors for the Alumni Association. Ed and Peggy enjoyed traveling, golf, singing in the church choir, sharing special times with family and friends and, of course, eating ice cream. Ed wrote humorous and often irreverent poetry throughout his life which thrilled every person who was lucky enough to receive one of his poems.

Ed was a passionate man. He loved all sports, education, his family, the church and talking to people. He talked to everyone, whether it was with the Martini Club of the Claremont Colleges or the Romeo Club at Mike’s donut shop (Really Old Men Eating Out), or on the beach at his favorite spot in nature, June Lake.

Ed stood tall throughout his life, and stands tall still in our memories as Tech Sgt. Ed, Coach Ed, Professor Ed, Doctor Ed, husband, father, brother, and friend, Ed. As the members of the 42nd Rainbow Division say, “Safe travels, Ed, as you pass over the rainbow.” We love you!

After a private burial, a memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 17 at 2:00 p.m. at Grace United Methodist Church at 1085 Linden Street in Riverside, California, 92507. In honor of Ed and his commitment to service, in lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Grace United Methodist Church Memorial Fund in Ed’s name, or donating time or money to a cause for which you feel a passion.

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