Community recounts fond memories of 'Coach Maz'

By Stephen Betts | Oct 06, 2017
Photo by: Beth Birmingham Edward Mazurek

Rockland — Ed Mazurek, who served his community in myriad roles over the past five decades, is being remembered primarily as a teacher.

Mazurek, 79, died Wednesday, Oct. 4.

Mazurek came to Rockland with his family in 1975 to take jobs as a social studies teacher and head football coach at Rockland District High School. In a 2014 interview upon his retirement from the state Senate, Mazurek talked about that move.

“Rockland was a real rough and tumble town,” Mazurek said. “We [he and his wife, MaryEllen] didn’t have plans to stay long. But we fell in love with the town.”

And in the ensuing 42 years, the community fell in love with Coach Maz.

Current State Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, recalled how Mazurek was his mentor when he was first elected to the House a decade ago.

And Miramant recalled the passion that Mazurek had for issues and his community. "He was a big advocate for his community. He would speak with the power of that passion and people would fall in line," Miramant said.

Current Director of Athletics for Maine Central Institute James Leonard was a player on a Mazurek-led football team.

"He brought an energy and a confidence with him that spread throughout the team," said Leonard, a Rockland native. "Coach Maz demanded individual accountability and sacrifice for the good of the group. He molded us into a pretty good team. We played in the first LTC Championship game."

Leonard said Mazurek infused that same sort of energy into the school.

Mazurek was born in the city of Stamford, Conn. Sports quickly became an important part of his life.

He played first base for his Little League team that went on to win the world championship in 1951. He and his fellow baseball players then earned a Babe Ruth national championship three years later.

After high school, Mazurek went to Xavier University in Cincinnati and majored in business. He played football on the Xavier team and was drafted in 1960 by three professional teams. The Boston Patriots in the new upstart American Football League drafted Mazurek, as did a team from Montreal in the Canadian Football League.

Also drafting Mazurek was the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League — the team that signed him. The team was relocating to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Cardinals. A defensive player, Mazurek was traded mid-season to the New York Giants. He finished out the year with New York.

Mazurek said he was a bit slow and that is why he didn’t continue in professional football. He said he still wanted to participate in sports and went to Fairfield University in Connecticut, where he got an education degree so that he could teach and coach. His first job was at Central Catholic High School in Norwalk, Conn. There, he coached football, baseball, basketball and softball.

His teaching and coaching career then took him to Barrington, R.I., for four years and for the next three years he was at Triton Regional High School in Newbury, Mass.

Then came the jobs at RDHS. For the next 35 years, Mazurek taught social studies and coached football and softball.

Upon his retirement, the veteran educator said he decided to follow his other passion — politics. He had served on the board of representatives in Stamford many years earlier.

Mazurek said in 2014 there was a similarity between politics and sports. “There are pretty strong parallels between politics and sports. Both are based on competition, and the harder you work and the more you prepare, the more likely you will be successful,” he said.

Mazurek was elected and was the top vote-getter when he ran for the Rockland City Council in 2001. He served a single three-year term and was twice elected mayor — a ceremonial post in Rockland that runs the meetings — by the other councilors. He was elected to the Maine House in 2004 to represent Rockland and part of Owls Head and was reelected by wide margins in three subsequent races. In 2012, he challenged incumbent Republican State Sen. Christopher Rector and captured the Knox County seat.

Mazurek said in that 2014 interview that you can do a lot of good things to help people in politics. He did not seek re-election in 2014 for health reasons.

He said his proudest accomplishment in the Legislature was to increase awareness of the need to invest in transportation. He served as chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.

Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, said even at the Legislature, Mazurek was known as "Coach."

Current Rockland Mayor Will Clayton said he had the pleasure of knowing Ed on a couple of different levels. "He was my social studies teacher at RDHS, where his booming voice would fill the classroom and kept you on your toes and ensured you were paying attention to the day's lesson," Clayton said.

"Ed also was a great sounding board for me politically as well. He knew my love of politics and every time I saw him in public I would bend his ear to get his opinion on what was facing us in council. He was never shy about making his stance known. I really appreciated it and wish more would follow suit. He was a legend in life and his legend will continue to grow."

In another 2014 interview, Mazurek said the most rewarding part of his life was his family. He said his children were "all grown up — Richard, Laura, Sarah and E.J.  — and all have rather successful endeavors in life and are beginning to contribute to the area. They are picking up the reins and getting involved."

Mazurek also recently was selected for induction into the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame, with that ceremony scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Elks Club in Rockland. His son, Richard, also had been inducted into that organization in recent years.

Friends and relatives are invited to visit from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St., Rockland. A Christian burial service will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 12, at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, 150 Broadway, Rockland. Interment will follow at Coughlin Memorial Cemetery.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Valerie Wass | Oct 09, 2017 15:02

A great loss for the community, a great gain for heaven.

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