Harry Maxwell: Mormon Educator

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Harry Maxwell Mormon Educator

Harry John Maxwell was a college administrator, professor, and teacher. He served briefly as acting president of Ricks College, now BYU-Idaho.

Maxwell was born on December 2, 1925, in Sun Valley, California, and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as a missionary in Brazil from 1947 to 1950. With the ability to speak Portuguese, he served as an interpreter in Europe during the Korean War. He had married Carol Pack prior to his shipment to Europe and she was able to join him there. They lived in Germany and France.

After his military service, he and his family moved back to Southern California and he farmed for a time while he earned his bachelor’s in music and education at the University of California, Riverside. He went on to teach fifth grade for five years in the Big Bear Lake area. After then serving as vice principal for a number of years, he moved his family to Palo Alto, California, where he earned his master’s and PhD in German studies from Stanford University.

From 1964 to 1966, Maxwell taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison campus. He taught one year at Adrian College in Michigan, then returned to the University of Wisconsin system where he was dean of the West Bend campus from 1967 to 1972. In 1972, he accepted an appointment at Ricks College and served as the dean of faculty and vice president. In 1977, he served for eight months as acting president of Ricks when then-president Henry B. Eyring left to serve as assistant to the Church Commissioner of Education. Maxwell served until Bruce C. Hafen became the next president. Maxwell presided over the Brazil Sao Paulo North Mission from 1978 to 1981. He then returned to Ricks College where he taught English and religion.

Maxwell died unexpectedly from a heart attack on June 20, 1984. He and his wife had four children.