Harry Mazer

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MONTPELIER - Harry Mazer, 90, died on April 7, 2016, 71 years after he leapt out of a B-17 bomber that had been shot down over Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, during the last mission of World War II.
Harry was one of the few survivors of the crew, a story he loved to tell and re-created in a fictionalized form in his young adult novel, "The Last Mission." He received a Purple Heart and an Air Medal with four bronze oak leaf clusters for his service.
Harry lived a long and adventure-filled life. He was born in New York City on May 31, 1925, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Rose and Sam Mazer. He grew up in the Bronx in an environment of idealism and socialist values in a cooperative housing community known affectionately as "The Coops." He formed lifelong friendships there. Harry graduated from Bronx High School of Science, Union College (under the GI Bill) and Syracuse University, where he earned a master's degree in education. He worked as a welder in a factory, a gandy dancer on the railroad and as a teacher before settling down to write fiction in the 1960s.
He had a distinguished career as the author of many popular young adult novels, including "Snowbound," which was made into an NBC after-school special, "The Island Keeper" and the "Boy at War" series. He won numerous awards for his work, including "Best Book," "Young Adult Choice" and "Best of the Best" designations, as well as the Knickerbocker Award given by the New York Library Association, and the ALAN Award for outstanding contributions to young adult literature.
He married Norma Fox in 1950. Their marriage lasted 59 years and was a true partnership. Together they collaborated as writers on creating beautiful gardens and on renovating several homes. Harry and Norma had many adventures, journeying to Kenya, Morocco, Italy and Belize. Harry had a lifelong love of New York City, and in the latter half of his life was able to return and live there part-time, enjoying the "best of both worlds" with a home in the city and one in the country outside of Syracuse, New York, where he lived most of his adult life. In the city, he enjoyed going to the theater, museums and concerts, sampling different cuisines, and walking with Norma for miles through the city.
Even though he was always a city boy, Harry had a lifelong passion for nature that began with his memories of the trees in Bronx Park. Throughout his life, he found ways of connecting with nature, even when living in a city. He loved walking in the woods and identifying edible mushrooms, flowers, and birds. As a young father he took his family on camping trips to the Adirondacks. Later, he and Norma purchased land on a lake in Ontario, and spent summers with family at their rustic camp, cooking outdoors, swimming and fishing, and listening to the frogs and whippoorwills at night.
Following a stroke in 2007, and the loss of his beloved wife in 2009, Harry continued to live life to its fullest with support from family and caregivers. He spent the last three years of his life at Woodridge Nursing home, where he continued to enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories, telling his own, and creating unique relationships with all the staff and residents. Harry was an example of how to live life 100 percent to the end despite diminishing strength and options. He never lost his love of life, his ideas and dreams for the future, or his enthusiasm for people.
Harry was predeceased by his daughter, Susan Mazer, in 2001, and his wife, Norma Fox Mazer, in 2009. He is survived by his daughter, Anne Mazer (Fred Schwartz), of Ithaca, New York; son Joseph Mazer, of Montpelier, Vermont; daughter Gina Mazer (Mark Howard), of East Calais, Vermont; and grandchildren Mollie Futterman, of Portland, Oregon, and Max Futterman, of New York City.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Woodridge Nursing home for all the love, funny stories, and support they gave Harry and his family. A special thank you to Char Anderson, Ed Norstrand, and all the other caregivers who enriched Harry's life and helped him live as independently as possible for the last seven years.
A memorial celebrating Harry's life will be held at the Woodridge Nursing Home in Berlin, Vermont, on Friday, May 6 at 2:30 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that well-wishers make a donation to the Vermont Foodbank or to the .
Funeral Home
Guare & Sons Funeral Home - Montpelier
30 School Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
(802) 223-2751
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Published in Times Argus from Apr. 12 to Apr. 14, 2016
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