Pepperdine Mourns Sudden Death of Athletic Department Chaplain
BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN
The body of 44-year-old Pepperdine University athletic department chaplain Maurice Hillard was discovered on the beach near Corral Canyon on Monday at approximately 9 a.m.
Hillard was reportedly dressed for his regular morning walk and was wearing athletic shoes when he was found.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide Division confirmed that there was no sign of trauma, injury or foul play.
Results were not yet in from an autopsy conducted by the coroner's office on Tuesday afternoon, and a coroner's representative indicated that the cause of death will most likely be deferred.
In addition to counseling students, Hillard was an assistant basketball coach and program director.
"Maurice touched the lives of so many of us at Pepperdine, especially our athletes who looked up to Maurice as a friend, counselor, and mentor," wrote Pepperdine president Andrew Benton in a statement released on Monday afternoon. "He will be greatly missed."
According to the press release, Hillard grew up in Los Angeles and earned a bachelor's degree at the University of La Verne and a Master's of Divinity in Apologetics at Biola University. He spent 10 years as a basketball coach at Pepperdine and then became the program director at the Boone Center for the Family.
In December of 2011, Hillard published a book called "The Price of a Pearl." In it he "shared what he learned through teaching, coaching, and mentoring young adults," according to the press release.
"He said he wrote the book for 'those who will open their hearts and minds to the healing power of God and who are willing to receive help'" the press release states.
Hillard was also "frequently invited to speak at conferences and seminars about the transformational power of God in the lives of young adults."
Benton asked that the community "offer your prayers for Maurice's family and help each other through this difficult time."
Counselors were available this week on the Malibu campus to aid students, and special prayer sessions were organized.
A moment of silence was observed on Monday before the men's basketball game. A prayer vigil was held later that evening. A more formal community memorial is also being planned.