BRATTLEBORO -- Marty Jezer, 64, of 22 Prospect St., died Saturday, June 11, 2005, at his home, after a courageous battle with cancer.
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Jezer was born Nov. 21, 1940 in the Bronx and lived there until 1954.
This was the “golden age” of the Bronx when children could ride their bicycles through all the streets, when people could ride the subway for 5 cents to Coney Island, Times Square and Battery Park.
Later, his family moved to the suburbs outside of New York City, where he attended White Plains High School.
He graduated from Lafayette College, Class of ‘61. There he co-founded the Watson Hall Social Club, an alternative to the fraternity system, whose emphasis was diversity. He wrote a weekly column for Lafayette, the student newspaper, and was captain of his swim team.
He attended Boston University School of Relations and Communication (SPRC), majoring in journalism. He dropped out to do research on the Wildcat coal mining strike in Hazard in Eastern Kentucky, learning the meaning of the song, “Which Side Are You On?”
He lived on the Lower East Side from 1962-5, as advertising copywriter for Gimbel's Department Store by day, bohemian political activist by night. He co-founded the Workshop in Nonviolence in 1965, and was a co-founding editor of WIN magazine from 1962-8.
He wrote for LNS (Liberation News Service) and through that contact co-founded Total Loss (Packer Corners) Farm in Guilford in 1968.
After moving to Guilford, he continued writing for WIN magazine, as well as Green Mountain Post, and the NOFA newsletter.
Jezer was an early organizer of NOFA, the Natural Organic Farmers' Association, and the Brattleboro Farmer's Market, and was on the board of directors of the Common Ground Restaurant, when it became worker-owned.
Between approximately 1978 and 1983, he worked with Alain Ratheau for Solar Alternatives and Solar Applications. He put in about 100 solar hot water installations in the Brattleboro area during this period, and had proudly noticed most of them are still working.
Among the organizations Jezer was involved in were the Brattleboro Area Clamshell Alliance, South Eastern Energy Coalition, Central American Solidarity, Citizen's Party, Vermont Solidarity and the Progressive Party.
In 1988, Jezer co-founded the Working Group on Electoral Democracy (WGED). As a member of this group, he helped to draft the model bill for publicly funded elections and set aside strategy for it's implementation. This bill is the model for Maine and Arizona legislation, drafted with Randy Keihler, and five others over a long weekend at Packer Corner Farm. The model bill was also the basis for federal legislation introduced by the late Sen. Paul Wellstone and others.
This became Clean Money Legislation, passed into law in Arizona and Maine.
It also passed as a referendum in Massachusetts but was over turned by the legislation. It was passed by Vermont Legislation but was challenged and is being contested in the U.S Supreme Court.
Of all his political activity this and founding WIN Magazine are what he was most proud of.
A life long severe stutterer, Jezer founded the Connecticut River Valley chapter of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) and has been affiliated with Speak Easy since the mid 1980s. He is author of “Stuttering: A Life Bound Up in Words. He was keynote speaker at a Convention of Friends, the association for young people who stutter, Speak Easy, and the Chicago Council for People Who Stutter.
He overcame his fear of speaking and was a guest speaker to college students at Boston University, Landmark College, Emerson College and the University of Massachusetts. In 1999 he was voted NSA Member of the Year.
From 1997 to 2005 he wrote a popular column for the Reformer, which was often picked up by political on-line magazines.
Besides his memoir of growing up as a stutterer, he has published the following books: “Abbie Hoffman: American Rebel” (1992); “Rachel Carson: Biologist and Author” (1988), and “The Dark Ages: Life In The United States 1945-1960” (1982).
He is survived by his loving partner of the past 12 years, Arlene Distler; his daughter, Kathryn Ruth Jezer-Morton; a future son-in-law Gray Miles; Kathryn's mother Mimi Morton; and step-children Josh, Aaron, Rachel and Ezra Distler.
Memorial donations may be sent in his name to the National Stuttering Association, Speak Easy, Friends, a local political organization of your choosing, a political campaign, or the building fund of the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community.
A memorial service is tentatively scheduled for Sunday, June 19, at 3 p.m., at the West Village Meeting House.
KER WESTERLUND FUNERAL HOME in Brattleboro is handling the arrangements.
Published in Brattleboro Reformer on June 13, 2005
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