Feb. 26, 1921 – Jan. 31, 2009
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In his holocaust memoir "Night," Elie Wiesel wrote "… at 6:00 that afternoon (April 11, 1945), the first American tank stood at the gates of Buchenwald." The first American officer standing outside those gates was Jerome "Jerry" Mazer. As a Jewish American, he saw firsthand the destruction of what hate and war can bring.
Despite his pacifism, Jerry was a highly decorated World War II veteran earning three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and various other medals. He was a kind, generous, and humble man who embraced others because they were part of mankind not because they were of a particular race, color, or religion.
Jerry passed away of cancer on Jan. 31, 2009, surrounded by his loving family. His was a voice never raised in anger, but always firm in his convictions. He had a wonderful dry sense of humor that endeared him to all who were lucky enough to experience his wit. His quiet demeanor and patience meant his children would come to him for advice and counsel throughout their lives.
He was born Feb. 26, 1921, in Baltimore, Md.
While on leave, he met Constance Rudo at a wedding. Her date was another gentleman, but Jerry won her heart and they were married on July 4, 1948. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on July 4, 2008. Together they had two children, Barbara "Bobbi" and Jeff.
He was a founding father of the Beth Israel synagogue in Baltimore. Jerry had rental property in Baltimore and spent many years making friends, taking care of, and worrying about his tenants. He also worked as a furrier, and after retirement, as a realtor in Baltimore. Jerry was not only a loving, kind husband, but a role model and hero to his children.
He is survived by his wife, Connie; daughter, Bobbi (Will) Mazer; son, Jeff (Teri) Mazer of Bozeman; grandchildren, Dustin (Liesl) Vial of Bellingham, Wash., Mariah (Nick) Huegel of Fort Worth, Texas; and one great-grandson, Julius Huegel. He is also survived by extended family - all of whom he loved dearly and was dearly loved in return.
Jerry served our country valiantly during World War II, but did not speak of his heroism. Instead, he hailed the heroic contributions of the fallen, the persecuted, and the storytellers such as Elie Wiesel who continues to carry the message of great tragedy and foundations of hope to the world. The world was a better place with Jerry Mazer in it, and his absence will be greatly felt by all who knew and loved him.
Contributions in Jerry's honor may be made to the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, 555 Madison Ave., 20th Floor, New York, NY 10022.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Feb. 20, 2009