OGDEN — Max J. Malan remembers his son as someone who lived life to the fullest, right from the very beginning.
“He’s a boy who ate rocks,” Max said with a laugh. “When he was little and I was tending him — studying while his mother was working at the hospital to put me through dental school — I’d catch him eating rocks outside our front door. I think he just had a real appetite for life.”
So then, maybe it’s true after all: You really are what you eat.
- RELATED: Andre Max Malan obituary
Because to many, Andre Malan was their rock — a strong man of integrity who loved to make people laugh but also knew how to cry with those who were grieving. Andre, a well-known local dentist at Malan Heights Dental, died Jan. 27 from injuries sustained in a Jan. 20 skiing accident at Snowbasin Resort.
According to his obituary, Andre loved skiing untracked powder, water-skiing the “perfect 5 a.m. glass,” mountain biking, canyoneering and hiking Malan’s Peak.
He came by the Malan name honestly — his great-grandfather built the hotel that once occupied Malan’s Basin, above Ogden — and he’d regularly lead friends and family on tours up the side of the mountain to visit the area and tell stories.
The Mountain Green man leaves behind a wife, four children, two granddaughters and a grandson due in April. He also leaves a community of family and friends who say they don’t know what they’ll do without him in their lives.
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Jamie Doak, of Warren, has worked at Andre’s Ogden dental practice for 7 ½ years and considered him “kind of my adopted dad.” She says he thought only of others, never himself.
“Dr. Andre just takes you on, sees your struggles and carries them with you,” she said.
Doak says Andre was all about serving others.
“We have seven girls who work here in the office, and two weeks ago, we all thought he’d gone home for the day,” she said. “But he was outside and had scraped the ice and snow off every one of our cars. That’s the way he was.”
Andre was the oldest of eight children, and Max says he and his wife couldn’t have asked for a better example in their home.
“The seven children behind him loved him and wanted to be just like him,” Max said. “He was the ideal older sibling of the bunch and such a wonderful example of how to live.”
Max says his son was a natural leader, both inside and outside the home. Andre earned his Eagle Scout rank at age 13 and attended Weber High School, where he played several sports and served as student body president. He was also popular with the opposite sex, having been elected royalty at many school dances — not to mention being voted “Most Preferred Guy” and bestowed with the designation of “Best Buns.”
Andre served an LDS mission to Brazil and later attended Brigham Young University. He graduated from the Oklahoma University College of Dentistry before returning home to spend the next 26 years in his Ogden dental practice.
Doak says she spoke with her boss on the day of the accident — twice. The first time, she called to ask about a patient with a toothache, and he paused from his day of skiing to consult on the case. Then, about an hour and a half before the accident, Doak says she needed to call him again.
“At that time, before he hung up, he took the time to say how much he appreciated me, saying, ‘Thank you for holding down the fort,’ ” she recalls.
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Snowbasin spokeswoman Megan Collins confirmed Andre was in an accident early on the afternoon of Jan. 20 in the resort’s Bluegrass Terrain Park. Her records show the accident happened at 1:15 p.m., and ski patrol members were on scene roughly three minutes after the call came in. Andre was transported via ambulance to Ogden Regional Medical Center.
“He fell hard,” his father said, explaining he suffered damage to his vertebrae that extended into the base of his brain, requiring life support.
Max says his son was given an LDS priesthood blessing following the accident, and the only promise made was that he’d be able to say goodbye to his loved ones.
“He was able to hang on long enough and remain conscious, that each of us could spend time with him,” Max said.
Family members were able to talk to Andre, sing songs and recite poems that he loved. Max considers it nothing short of a miracle.
“Each of us would have our time with him, when he could understand us, and then finally he couldn’t anymore and just closed his eyes,” he said.
Max says his son was an excellent skier.
“It took his life, but he was doing what he loved,” he said.
Jesse Kemp, of Ogden, says his friend of almost two decades always gave everything “110 percent.” Kemp started a small nondenominational outreach program to homeless individuals on Sunday mornings in the park at 25th Street and Grant Avenue. He says it didn’t really take off until three years ago — when Andre asked if he could help.
“He took the outreach to a whole new level,” Kemp said. “The resources he brought to bear, the people he brought when he came on — we had more people and supplies than we knew what to do with.”
Kemp says Andre quickly became the go-to guy for the homeless outreach program.
“Whatever we needed for the homeless, Andre brought it in and brought it in abundance,” Kemp said. “Food, supplies, whatever. Because of him, we were able to do so much more than we were doing. We went from 15 volunteers to 150 volunteers. Andre is going to be next-to-impossible to even think about replacing.”
As serious as Andre was about helping others and making a difference in their lives, family and friends say he had a playful side, too. Andre’s obituary mentions how he loved “making up songs for vacation memories and weddings, and embarrassing his kids with dances like his famous ‘Malan Shuffle.’”
Max loves to tell the story of when his son and daughter-in-law had tickets to see a community production of “The Three Musketeers” with two other couples.
“Andre said, ‘We’re going to dress up like Musketeers and go to the show,’” Max recalls. “His wife, Maren, said, ‘I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life — six adults with dumb costumes on.’ And Andre was having a ball.”
Doak says Andre was easily the most Christ-like person she’s ever met.
“Without getting too religious here, I know that when you’re perfect you don’t have a purpose to remain on Earth anymore,” she said. “But we miss him.”
Funeral services will be held at noon Friday, Feb. 3, in the Morgan North LDS Stake Center, 2755 W. Old Highway Road, Morgan.
A viewing is scheduled at the same church from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 — what would have been Andre’s 55th birthday.