UC Berkeley Health and Safety Team assistant manager dies at 39

Roy Waller/Courtesy

Steve Maranzana, an assistant manager at UC Berkeley’s Office of Environment, Health and Safety, died after a bicycle crash, Dec. 20, on the Ohlone Greenway, a path near the BART tracks. He was 39.

A UC Berkeley graduate, Maranzana started interning for the Office of Environment, Health and Safety while he was a student and continued to work there after graduating in 1997.

He served as the coordinator for the EH&S Dedicated Spill Response Team, a group trained to address campus chemical spills and releases, and as the assistant manager of the office’s health and safety team, he was responsible for health and safety training of faculty and staff.

Most recently, Maranzana was the project manager for Tobacco-Free at Berkeley, an initiative which will ban tobacco products on campus grounds starting Wednesday.

Friends remember Maranzana as a positive, caring and energetic person with varying interests and hobbies.

Tim Pine, an environmental specialist at UC Berkeley, shared an office with Maranzana for several years. Pine said that in addition to being an adept environmental scientist, Maranzana was a “phenomenal gardener,” sometimes bringing in tomatoes and fruits to trade at the office. Pine also noted Maranzana would also break out into perfect French or Italian at random moments.

To top off his multiple talents, Maranzana took home a trophy for being the department’s ping-pong champion in 2012.

“He was just the kind of person that if he wasn’t good at everything already, he knew how to gain the skills and knowledge to be good at it,” Pine said. “That’s why it’s going to be so tough, because he was the go-to guy for us … He’s just going to leave a huge vacuum.”

He recalled a time when he and Maranzana noticed soapy water in Strawberry Creek and decided to investigate. Pine said they caught members of a cleaning company “red-handed” as they dumped wastewater tanks into a storm drain near the Foothill residence hall.

Pine said the group members tried to pack up their stuff, but Maranzana stood directly in front of the van and would not let them go until the district attorney arrived. Afterward, the company was forced to change its policies.

“Steve was just relentless,” he said. “He had the energy and intelligence that made him just the person perfect in (his) role.”

Colleagues also remember Maranzana as an avid cyclist, often biking to work from his home in El Cerrito. In 2009, Maranzana took part in the AIDS/LifeCycle, biking from San Francisco to Los Angeles over the course of a week.

Ryan Whitacre, a doctoral student in a joint UC Berkeley and UCSF program, trained with Maranzana for the event. He first met Maranzana on a ride up Mount Diablo and remembers him as “welcoming and ambitious.”

“He’d get out way ahead, then turn around, ride down to find us,” Whitacre said in an email. “With his encouragement, we made it to the top. In that moment and many more, his glowing spirit propelled us through the day.”

Other friends of Maranzana echo Whitacre’s words. Jonathan Goodrich, Maranzana’s friend of 20 years, said he and Maranzana inspired each other to participate in the AIDS/LifeCycle.

“He was always helping you brave an adventure,” Goodrich said. “He was somebody you always wanted by your side. And especially when something bad happened, he was always there.”

One of the best moments of his life, Goodrich said, was being able to marry Maranzana to his wife last June. He said Maranzana’s wife, Elisabeth Hawley, is currently expecting a child.

In addition to Hawley, Steve is survived by parents Luigi and Marianne Maranzana and older brothers Ricardo and Alessandro Maranzana. Services will take place at Sunset View in El Cerrito on Saturday at 11 a.m. The reception will follow services at HS Lordships in the Berkeley Marina.

Contact Tahmina Achekzai at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @tahminachekzai.

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