Private Family Service
Monty Mazin, z”l (May His Memory be a Blessing) passed away on April 15, in Toronto, Canada.
Beloved father and father-in-law of Larry and Sara Guterman, grandfather of Hannah, Max and Gabrielle (GG) Guterman, father of Stephen Levy-Mazin, brother of Gwenn White and Joe Mazin, son of Solomon and Rachel Mazin, former husband of Ilene Levy, and husband of Blema Mazin for 44 years, Monty was born in London’s East End, Whitechapel, on December 30, 1926.
Monty was a remarkable man and a never-ending inspiration to his family and friends alike. Diagnosed with polio at the age of three, his doctor felt he wouldn’t survive to the age of ten, and certainly would never walk without a leg brace. He played goalie in soccer with his brace as a child, and then defied the odds further, discarding it entirely at the age of 10, and never wore one again. And, of course, he lived to 93.
Many would say his incredible spirit and positivity, sense of gratitude, connection to his Jewish heritage, and influence of his beloved Bubbe, contributed to his long life and the impact he made on others. His Bubbe was known in the tenements of London’s East End, which were filled with poor Jewish immigrants in the 1920’s and 30’s, as a fierce defender of social justice for the downtrodden. Monty’s sense of fairness and justice emanated directly from his Bubbe and the Jewish principles of righteousness she taught and showed him, and remained a guiding principle his whole life.
He lived during some of the most tumultuous periods in history. He personally witnessed the Battle of Cable Street in the 1930’s in London’s East End, when Oswald Moseley’s fascists tried to intimidate the Jewish residents.
He was evacuated with his younger sister Gwenn to live in the countryside during the German blitz of London, returning later to to serve as a cub reporter, reporting on the horrors of the Battle of Britain and the terror of the V1 and V2 rockets. He once witnessed a German plane machine gun a schoolyard, and emerged from the war with deep convictions about social justice, which later evolved into a lifelong commitment to economic equality, fair treatment of minorities, and the importance of affordable healthcare for all.
He was the youngest city Councillor in London at the age of 20. The Labor party tried to recruit him when they saw signs of his speaking brilliance and activism, thinking he could potentially become a mayoral candidate for London, but he did not join.
He also displayed the famous resilience the British were noted for during the war, including a wonderful sense of humor.
He was an incredible storyteller/raconteur, and great joke teller. As many have pointed out, he could tell you the same joke ten times and you’d laugh every time because it seemed as though it was first time he was performing it. What’s more, he had a beautiful singing- and radio-ready voice, and when he moved to Montreal in 1956, he was actually encouraged to try his hand at radio.
Instead, he went in a different direction, and worked in PR and fundraising for many Jewish organizations, including Israel Bonds, B’nai Brith, JNF, and Associated Hebrew Schools.
He personally hosted notables such as Simon Wiesenthal in Montreal as part of his work, as well as Brig. Gen. Dan Shomron, the architect of the Entebbe rescue, at a fund-raising dinner for Israel Bonds, on the 1st anniversary of the legendary operation.
He was the consummate volunteer as well, giving back to the community through Rotary and B’nai Brith.
When he retired, he continued his volunteer work, first at the 2 Neptune assisted living facility, where he brought in many new residents and worked on committees to get seniors acclimated and keep them active, and later at the Baycrest nursing home. In his 80’s he actually held the distinction of having the record for about 10 years of raising the most money in Canada for the Salvation Army, just by standing at the “kettle” at one of the indoor malls at Yonge and Eglinton and chatting people up to get them to donate. This amounted to something like $7000 per holiday season in quarters and loonies, times ten years!
As a result, he received many distinguished honors for his volunteerism, including the Governor Generals’ Caring Canadian Award, as well as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award on the 60th anniversary of her reign, recognizing outstanding contributions to Canadian society.
He also gave elegant and passionate testimony before the Canadian government regarding saving the Branson Hospital in North York, and was lauded for his valiant efforts.
Monty married Ileen Levy and raised Stephen Levy-Mazin, and in 1976 remarried, this time to Blema Mazin (nee Guterman), in Calgary, and became father to Larry Guterman. His deep influence on Larry and his notions of justice and striving for an equitable society continue to this day.
He dedicated the rest of his life to Blema, with whom he was deeply in love, and to Larry. Blema and Monty were a beloved couple and when they spent their later years in Baycrest, they were always held up as a a model of long-lasting love, singing to each other during weekly events for the seniors. Later, when Blema’s alzheimer’s worsened, Monty would see her every day and sing to her. He had wonderful and loyal friends, young and old, from all walks of life.
His son Larry had lost his first father when he was 3 1/2, which left Larry’s mother a young widow . “My new Dad had big shoes to fill when he married my mom,” Larry said. “She was intent on finding a great husband for her, and a great father for me–and she did.”
In addition to those mentioned above, Monty leaves behind his brother-in-law Jack White (married to sister Gwenn), and their children Ruth and Pauline. He also leaves behind his sister-in-law Marion Mazin (married to brother Joe), their daughter Shana married to Jonathan Koffman and granddaughter Jessica. Additionally, he leaves behind Marion and Joe’s son Gary, his wife Simone, and their two children, Isabella and Ellis.
On his wife Blema’s side, he leaves behind niece Linda Aber and Stephen Aber and their children Hailey and Alex, nephew Barry Lazarus and Cindy Lazarus and their children Harris, Nolah and Scott, nephew Aaron Severs and his wife Sue Ward, nephew Lorne Severs, and cousins Elka and Brian Birnbaum and their children, Marnee and Lorne.
Donations can be made in Monty’s honor to:
JNF – Jewish National Fund of Canada—to plant a tree in Israel
Or make in investment in Israel Bonds in his honor here: