Mary G. Mazur died peacefully in her Longbranch home May 7 at the age of 90, surrounded by family. Mary and her husband Bob moved from the Chicago area to the Key Peninsula in 1996. Working with a local architect under Mary’s direction, they built their Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired dream house at Whiskey Beach.
Bob retired from his career as a research chemist after developing aspartame, marketed under the brand “NutraSweet,” before the move to Longbranch. Mary continued her career as a well-known historian of modern China — including the translation into Chinese of her book on the important intellectual, Wu Han, and a best article award in China Quarterly. The couple were active members of the Longbranch Improvement Club, where Mary served as an officer on the board as well as directing the club’s dinner theater program.
Mary was born in Detroit in 1931, spent her early childhood in East Chatham, New York, and then moved with her mother to Glenwood, Minnesota, at the age of 8 where she came down with and recovered from polio. After graduating with a degree in zoology from Carleton College, she went to the Chicago area for a lab technician position at the same company as Bob. They married in 1954, several months after they met through a ride-share posting for work. Mary became a full-time homemaker and gave birth to Steven in 1955. Their next two children were lost to infant illness. Dan was born in 1961 and Amy in 1962.
Mary returned to school in the early 1970s and developed a passion for Chinese culture and language. She successfully applied to the top Chinese history doctoral program in the country at the University of Chicago. En route to her degree, earned in 1992 at the age of 61, she learned to speak and read Mandarin and spent over a year in China doing her dissertation research. Ageist hiring practices limited her to several one-year university teaching positions, despite her dream to be a full-time professor.
A memorial open-house will be held at the family home to celebrate Mary’s life October 1 from noon to 4. All are welcome. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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