Former Nittany Lion fencing coach Maxwell Garret passes away

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Former Penn State and Illinois fencing coach Maxwell "Mac" Garret died Wednesday, April 10, 2013 in Florida. He was 95 years old.

Garret, born Max Goldstein on April 18, 1917, was the eldest of three children of Russian born parents. He lived most of his early years in Manhattan (near Harlem) and later in East Bronx. He received his high school education at Townsend Harris High School, a preparatory school of City College of New York. Mac attend CCNY from 1934-39 and received a bachelor's degree in education with a major in physical education.

At CCNY, he was a varsity fencer and was captain of the 1939 team. He was a candidate for the 1940 U.S. Olympic Foil team, however, World War II was in progress, and no Olympic competition too place. Garret was named the fencing coach at Illinois in 19040 and continued his graduate work until March 1942 when he received his master's degree. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force, graduating from Officers Candidate School in 1943 and serving four years in the military. Garret was honorably discharged in 1946 with the rank of Captain.

Mac married Diana Rosen in 1943. They had four children: Roger (1944), Roberta (1945-84), Esther (1947) and Bruce (1951). All four children graduated from the University of Illinois.

Garret was fencing coach at Illinois from 1941-72, leading the Fighting Illini to NCAA team championships in 1956 and 1958, and to 17 Big Ten titles, ranking lower than second place in the Big Ten only once during his 28 years. He compiled an all-time record of 245-71-1 at Illinois, while coaching 28 All-Americans. Garret then coached Penn State from 1972-82.

He led Penn State to a 113-21 record during his years as mentor of the Lions. Penn State's fall tournament, the Penn State Garret Open, is named for him.

One of the principal organizers of fencing in the Midwest, he was co-found of the NFCAA (1941) and later served as president of the organization.

Although Garret "officially" retired from Penn State in 1982, his contributions to the sport never ceased. He continued to serve as an internationally ranked fencing official and officiated frequently at major national and international tournaments as well as circuit events. The National Fencing Coaches Association Hall of Fame was instituted in 1963 as a result of an initiative by Garret.

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Last Updated April 18, 2013