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In Memoriam: Professor Lester J. Mazor

Lester Mazor

A founding faculty member at Hampshire College, Professor Emeritus Lester Mazor, 74, died peacefully March 6 in Berlin, Germany, where he had lived full-time since his retirement in 2007. Professor Mazor joined Hampshire College in July 1970. He taught and mentored Hampshire students interested in law and related fields for nearly four decades.

Earlier in his distinguished career, he served as law clerk to the Honorable Warren E. Burger, who became Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Mazor was also for a time the youngest law professor in the nation at the University of Utah, where he taught from 1962-1970. He joined Hampshire as the Henry R. Luce Professor of Law. His intellectual accomplishments were numerous, with publications that include books and articles on the legal professor and legal philosophy, including co-authoring Introduction to the Study of Law.

“Mentor” is the word most frequently used by former colleagues and students who have shared messages of remembrance over the past few days since learning of Professor Mazor’s death.

President Marlene Gerber Fried: “Lester was one of my mentors at Hampshire. He was on the board of CLPP when I first arrived and we served on committees together. He taught me about Division II and Division III, which he said did not have to be a performance at Carnegie Hall but it did have to be ‘a very good recital.’ He was wise, iconoclastic, completely devoted to Hampshire and to the students. He will be sorely missed.”

Sigmund Roos 73F of Block & Roos in Boston and chair of the Hampshire College Board of Trustees: “Lester was one of the chief influences in my choosing a legal career,” said Roos. “He was really an amazing teacher, and someone who even as he was teaching was always learning.

“He also influenced me to remain closely involved with Hampshire. Lester and his colleagues are the reason I care so much about the College, and that was reinforced by his own frequently stated confidence in the younger professors who joined the faculty more recently.”

Caren Kaplan 73F, an American studies professor at UC Davis: “Lester Mazor was my first and most significant intellectual mentor. I spend my life thinking about and teaching things that Lester first introduced to me. But I never really expected to do this without him as an interlocutor. There are, finally, no words to express my sadness at his untimely passing.”

Alex Kreit 98F, director of the Center for Law and Social Justice at Thomas Jefferson Law School in San Diego: “To me, Lester embodied Hampshire’s spirit and educational philosophy, where education is a collaborative endeavor that extends beyond the classroom.

“It seemed like every time you visited his office, you’d leave with a new book or article to read and sometimes even with a new directed study. He always had high expectations for his students and if you wanted to work with him, you had to be prepared to engage thoroughly and enthusiastically in your work. In turn, he was fiercely devoted to his students. Once you became one of Lester’s students, you weren’t just his student until graduation. You were his student for life. I’ve never known a teacher who was more beloved by his students than Lester.”

Our condolences go out to his wife, Ann Spier-Mazor; his children, David Mazor of Amherst, Shari Mazor McDaid of Dublin, Ireland, and Marya Mazor of Long Beach, California; and his grandchildren Kerry, Kacie, Asa, and Zelda, He is also survived by a brother, Stanley Mazor, and a sister, Debigail Mazor, both of California.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to Reader To Reader (for which son David Mazor is executive director), 38 Woodside Avenue, Amherst, MA 01002, or to the Lester J. Mazor Endowment at Hampshire College, 893 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002.

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