Maynard Jay Brichford, 93, of Urbana died peacefully on December 28 at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, IL.
Maynard was born August 6, 1926 to Merton and Evelyn Graves Brichford in Madison, Ohio. Upon graduation from Madison High School in 1944 he completed a semester at Hiram College before entering the Navy. After his discharge he returned to Hiram, then spent a year at the University of Michigan Law School before returning to graduate from Hiram in 1950. He decided to pursue his lifelong interest in History at the University of Wisconsin/Madison where he earned an MS in history in 1951. There he met Jane Hamilton and they were married in 1951.
He began his career with the Wisconsin State Historical Society in 1952, then went on to positions in records management with the states of Illinois (1956-59) and Wisconsin (1959-63) before being appointed as the first full-time Archivist of the University of Illinois. When he arrived, the Archives consisted of stacks of boxes in the basement of the Library. Under his leadership it grew into national prominence for which he was recognized with the Chancellor’s Medallion in 2017. As the Archives grew he was allowed to hire student assistants, several of whom went on to become university archivists themselves and he was especially proud of their professional success. He was a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists and served as its president in 1979-80. He retired in 1995. In addition to numerous publications on archival topics, he authored a biography of UI football coach Bob Zuppke.
In addition to history, he had a lifelong affinity for cats, travel, and the Cleveland Indians. Family camping vacations covered territory from Maine to Montana, Arizona to North Carolina, and eight Canadian provinces. His study of professional archival education brought sabbatical opportunities to visit several European capitals, and he spent semesters in Kew, UK and, twice, in Marburg, Germany, the second time (1985) as a Fulbright Scholar. His work with sports history resources in the Archives provided material for presentations at conferences in the US, Canada and Europe. He was always accompanied by his beloved wife, Jane, and after his retirement their travels included visits to Central America and Alaska.
Maynard was proud of his military service but it left him with a conviction, which only deepened over time, that there are better ways than war to resolve disputes. He was a strong supporter of the United Nations and of all attempts to promote social justice. He was a member of First Methodist Church in Urbana for 56 years, and he and Jane volunteered for many community and church-related activities.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife of 63 years, Jane Brichford. He is survived by his sister, Sue Alexander (Roy) of Killingworth, CT; his children: Charles Brichford (Annette) of Princeton, WV, Ann Martin (Jim) of Beloit, WI, Matthew Brichford (Leslie Jacobs) of Connersville, IN, and Sarah Brichford (Jack Johnson) of Russiaville, IN; former daughter-in-law Kristi Lewis of Tucson, AZ; eleven grandchildren: Constance, Sofia, Amelia and Elliott Brichford; Colin (who served as caregiver for both Maynard and Jane in the last years of their lives) and Alina Martin; Miah, Maize, and Eliza Jacobs-Brichford; Neil and Cora Johnson; and two great-grandchildren.
The family will hold a private interment service at Dale Cemetery in Jane’s hometown of Connersville, IN. A memorial service will be held in Urbana at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to the First United Methodist Church, 304 S. Race Street, Urbana, IL 61801.
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