Assistant Vice Chancellor Dies While Exercising

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Matthew Lyon, assistant vice chancellor of public affairs and a respected member of the UC Berkeley community, died Saturday of an apparent heart attack at the age of 45.

Lyon died in Seattle, where he had traveled to watch the Cal men's basketball team play the University of Washington.

He was working out on a treadmill with the head coach of the basketball team, Ben Braun, in a hotel fitness center when the heart attack occurred. He died almost immediately.

Speaking at a gathering of the basketball team and the media Sunday, Braun remembered Lyon as a passionate fan of the team.

"You're talking about the man who was as big a supporter as we had. And that's the hard part. Nobody on this campus was more supportive," Braun said.

Lyon attended many of the Bears' away games and stood directly behind the players' bench to cheer on the team.

Braun said Lyon was "the first guy you'd see coming on the court, and he was the last guy you'd see getting off, and he was there for you-win or lose."

Lyon spent his life pursuing a diverse array of careers and interests. He was a journalist and author, and worked with notable politicians, including Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt and former Texas governor Mark White, Jr. He came to UC Berkeley in 1999.

He was familiar with the academic setting from a young age. Lyon's father was a professor of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his mother was a sculptor and dancer.

Lyon is survived by wife Katie Hafner, a technology correspondent for The New York Times and former reporter for Newsweek magazine, and their daughter Zoe, age 8.

As the assistant vice chancellor of public affairs, Lyon made it his duty "to enhance communications and relationships with UC Berkeley's many constituents," according to his Web site.

In a statement, Hafner said her husband enjoyed his job with public affairs, and that he was particularly proud of his role in bringing President Clinton to speak at Zellerbach Hall last month.

Lyon was especially close to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl.

He worked as Berdahl's speechwriter while the chancellor was president of the University of Texas at Austin, before he came to Berkeley. Berdahl brought Lyon to UC Berkeley with him. The two had been friends for nearly 10 years.

Berdahl described Lyon as "one of the best friends I ever had."

"We will miss his leadership in public affairs, his concern about the welfare of the campus and his great humanity," Berdahl said in a statement.

Berdahl also praised Lyon's contributions during his career on campus.

"Matt transformed public affairs at Berkeley-intent on making it the best in its field," he said. "He set exacting standards for himself and generously shared his energies and expertise with his colleagues."

An ardent writer, Lyon and Hafner coauthored the 1998 bestseller "Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet," which documents the advent of the Internet.

Lyon served as a reporter for The New York Times and was an associate editor for the Texas Observer. He was also a sculptor and photographer.

Lyon was an avid tennis player. A member of his college team, he frequented UC Berkeley's courts, where he often competed with other members of the campus faculty and staff.

A campus memorial service for Lyon has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 27, and a private service will be held at Lyon's home in Sonoma, Calif.


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