BERLIN, Germany - Lester J. Mazor, 74, Professor Emeritus at Hampshire College, and an Amherst and Northampton resident, died peacefully Sunday, March 6, 2011, in Berlin, Germany, where he had lived full-time since retiring in 2007.
Born in Chicago, Mazor grew up in Oakland, Calif., where he played on the Oakland High School basketball team, and graduated first in his class and was valedictorian in 1954. He was governor of the Junior Statesmen of America. At the age of 15, he was the youngest precinct leader for the Democratic Party in the state of California. After graduating from Oakland High, he earned his AB from Stanford University (History) in 1957, and a JD from Stanford University Law School in 1960. He was Phi Beta Kappa, Order of the Coif, and was an editor of the Stanford Law Review. He also played in the Stanford marching band.
He served as law clerk to the Honorable Warren E. Burger, later Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and became the youngest law professor in the nation at the University of Utah, where he taught from 1962-1970. He taught constitutional law and criminal procedure, and authored the first ABA minimum standards for criminal sentencing. In 1970, he became the Henry R. Luce Professor of Law at Hampshire College in Amherst. He also taught courses related to history, philosophy, and social justice, and he established Hampshire's program in Berlin. He continued to teach undergraduate law courses at Hampshire until he retired in 2007. He published numerous articles and co-authored "Introduction to the Study of Law."
He was a permanent visiting professor at Anhui University in Hefei, China, and a visiting professor at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, teaching constitutional law. He was a frequent guest lecturer in Eastern Europe and at conferences around the world.
In addition to teaching undergraduate law courses, he greatly enjoyed teaching extracurricular cooking classes and playing basketball with students, which he did for almost 30 years.
Among his many former students at Hampshire College who chose law as a profession in part because of Professor Mazor's influence is Sigmund Roos of Block & Roos LLP of Boston, 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 was the son of Bert Mazor and Mildred (Mazur) Mazor, and is survived by his wife, Anne Spier-Mazor; his brother, Stanley Mazor and his sister, Debigail Mazor, both of California; his children, David Mazor of Amherst, and executive director of Reader to Reader Inc., Shari (Mazor) McDaid, Ph.D. of Dublin, Ireland, and Marya Mazor, a noted theatre director in Long Beach, Calif.; and his grandchildren, Kerry, Kacie, Asa and Zelda.
A service is being planned for the future. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Reader to Reader, 38 Woodside Ave., Amherst, MA 01002, or to the Lester J. Mazor Endowment at Hampshire College, 893 West Street, Amherst, MA 01002.