Benedict George Mazza, a longtime resident of Pompton Lakes, died at home Friday, August 2, 2019 in the loving care of his family. He was 83.
Born in Newark, Ben was the only son of Benjamin and Eleanor Mazza. Raised primarily in Clifton, he was a graduate of Clifton High School, and went on to pursue a degree in English Literature from Bates College in Maine, and later earned his M.A. in Education from Harvard University.
Staying in Massachusetts, Ben secured a position teaching English at Wayland High School in Wayland. It was through a fellow teacher that he met Edith Champagne, the woman he would marry in 1964. Living first in Waltham and later, Framingham, the couple welcomed the birth of two boys, Benedict Jr. and Kenneth.
Following the death of his father in 1969, Ben moved his family back to New Jersey to be closer to his mom. Settling in Pompton Lakes, he began work as the English Department Chair for Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes. Later, in 1987, Ben was awarded a prize for Distinguished Secondary School Teaching by Princeton University. In addition to his job and raising his boys, Ben would travel to Clifton each weekend to assist his mother with her shopping, finances and home.
While still a student at Harvard, Ben had flown to Italy, and that startling experience flying led him to stay stateside for the remainder of his life. He loved learning about the world, though, and lived vicariously through his sons, hanging photographs throughout the house of their foreign travels.
Ben held a lifelong appreciation for food -- nowadays he would be known as a “foodie”. He loved searching for unique, underappreciated restaurants, and loved hearing about the dining experiences of others. His meals usually began with his favorite cocktail – a martini, twist of lemon, straight up – while he reveled in discussing the latest great book he read, movie or play he got to see, or show he got to watch.
While raising his boys, Ben filled their minds with as much art and culture as he could. He was known for calling them in “sick” to school, only to head off to New York City to see a show or a movie he wanted to see. This love of the arts continued for all of them, and they would all regularly keep each other up to date on the new productions and reviews.
A fond memory of Ben is that of his many hours spent in the backyard hammock on long summer days, where he always had a book in hand. Although his fear of flying prevented him from seeing much of the world, his love of literature allowed him to travel to lands far and away.
He is lovingly survived by his wife of 55 years, Edith; his children, Benedict Mazza Jr., and Kenneth Mazza and his wife Jackie.
Visiting hours will be held Wednesday, August 7, 2019 from 2-4 & 7-9 pm at the M. John Scanlan Funeral Home, Pompton Plains. Cremation will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org and click on DONATE.