Nevada State College president recalled for love of family, school

There’s this story about Fred Maryanski making the rounds.

Whenever he’d go into a restaurant, he’d divide the hour into segments. Something like 10 six-minute segments. When the waiter came to take his order, he’d note to himself which segment of the hour it was right at that minute. If, say, it was within the fourth segment of the hour, he’d pick the fourth entree on the menu.

Maryanski was a computer scientist. He liked numbers. But, apparently, he also liked a little adventure.

That was one of the stories told Wednesday at a memorial service for Maryanski, 63, the president of Nevada State College, who died Friday.

Something close to 400 people attended the event, billed as a celebration of his life. He had been ill for a long time before finally passing away.

His wife, Karen, visited with well-wishers in the hallway of the Henderson Convention Center before things got under way. People told her stories about Maryanski, about how evident it was that he cared for two things above all: his family and his college.

“I said to my kids, ‘I hope you realize this was not just your dad. He loved everybody,’ ” she told one woman during an embrace.

Maryanski was a quiet man, small in stature and generally soft-spoken.

He came to Nevada State College in 2005 to serve as the fledgling school’s fifth president, despite it having been opened only since 2002.

He had served for 30 years at the University of Connecticut after growing up in New Jersey. But with his children grown, Maryanski finally sought his lifelong dream to become a college president.

By all accounts, he took to the job with fervor.

The college had no permanent building when he arrived; it was housed in a refurbished vitamin factory on a plot of land far in the south end of Henderson.

But he oversaw the construction of a new building and the explosion of its student population from 1,500 when he arrived to 2,600 last spring.

In one of his last acts as president, he presented the college’s new master plan to the Board of Regents at its most recent meeting, last month in Reno.

“He was synonymous with Nevada State College,” said James Dean Leavitt, chairman of the Board of Regents. “Years from now, when we’re talking about Nevada State College, we will talk about Fred Maryanski.”

Bill Martin, a trustee with the Nevada State College Foundation, said Maryanski was more than a good college president.

“As valuable as all that was, it turned out that what we really liked was Fred,” he said. “You couldn’t help but like Fred.”

Lesley Di Mare, executive vice president and provost at the college and second in command to Maryanski, said she spent as much time with him as she did with her husband.

She told stories about Maryanski that had the crowd laughing, like the time he took her, his wife and a half dozen other women to the Sex and the City movie premiere.

Maryanski’s grandson, Jared, 9, also took to the podium. Barely able to reach the microphone, he read a short note.

“He loved us very much,” the boy said.

Maryanski’s grown son, David, the middle of three children, spoke of his dad’s dedication to work and family. He said Fred Maryanski was the rare man who found balance in both.

He never missed a soccer game, and in fact coached the kids through 10 years when they were children.

He was married to the same woman for 41 years, the love of his life. His most treasured possession was his wedding ring.

“Our dad,” he said, “was a role model and a hero in our eyes.”

Contact reporter Richard Lake at rlake@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307.

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