Menlo Park: Malcolm McGinnis, co-owner of Freewheel Brewing, dies at 57


Malcolm McGinnis of Menlo Park, a researcher, triathlete and, in recent years, head brewer and co-owner of Freewheel Brewing Company, died Sept. 13, surrounded by family and friends. He was 57, and the cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

Born in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, on April 17, 1959, Mr. McGinnis came to the U.S. in 1977 to study at Johns Hopkins University, where he received a bachelor's degree in biology. After getting a master's degree in forensic health at the University of Pittsburgh, he moved to California to attend U.C. Berkeley, where he received a master's in public health and a doctorate in biochemistry.

Mr. McGinnis' professional career centered on research into histocompatibility testing. He co-founded Atria Genetics with Pete Krausa. The company developed groundbreaking genetic tests that greatly increased the accuracy of tissue typing and consequently improved the survival rates following bone marrow transplantation.

Shortly after selling, and then retiring from, Atria, Mr. McGinnis lived with his family in Paris before being diagnosed with bile duct cancer. Returning to the United States, he was successfully treated at Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute. He was still cancer-free last fall, six years after treatment; the new cancer was diagnosed last March.

A longtime home brewer, he started formulating the idea of a local brewery along with former colleague Pete Krausa and fellow Menlo Park residents Gary Waymire and Larry Bucka.

Freewheel Brewing Company opened in January 2013 at Marsh Manor, and soon became a popular community gathering spot. It often hosted charity fundraising events along with photography exhibits. On the night following his death, it was at Freewheel that people gathered to remember Malcolm.

Mr. McGinnis had been an All-American swimmer at Johns Hopkins University, was a triathlete, and played hockey as an adult. He was also an ardent follower of the San Jose Sharks and a coach of Menlo-Atherton High School lacrosse.

He is survived by his wife, Irene Searles, who is a contributing photographer to; his son Duncan and daughter Lauren McGinnis; parents Arthur (Bud) and Gladys McGinnis; sisters Brenda Reid and Heather Screaton; a brother, Cameron McGinnis; and many nieces and nephews, all residents of Canada.

A celebration of life will occur later this fall.

Memorial gifts can be made in honor of Malcolm McGinnis to Stanford University. Gifts will support Dr. Brendan Visser and Dr. George Fisher for their continued work in cancer research and patient care.

Checks should be made payable to Stanford University. Indicate "In memory of Malcolm McGinnis" on the memo line. If you would like acknowledgments sent to the family, please indicate your desire on a separate note. Mail to Stanford University, c/o Ruth Vera-Cedro, 3172 Porter Drive, Suite 210, Palo Alto, CA 94304.

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