The Passing of Mary G. Mazur (1931-2022)

Marilyn Levine's picture

It is with sadness that I report the passing of Mary G. Mazur, a historian of China, whose work on the historian Wu Han was an original and valuable contribution to modern Chinese history. Mary passed away quietly at her home in Longbranch, Washington, surrounded by her family. Her husband, Robert [Bob] Mazur, (who predeceased her) was a distinguished chemist and she moved to Whiskey Beach in 1997 after his retirement.  She leaves two sons, Steven and Daniel and a daughter, Amy.


Mary G. Mazur lived her life like few people were willing to live their lives. A person of intense integrity and grit, she was a tremendous example of courage. Mary entered graduate school at the University of Chicago during her middle years and graduated in 1992 at the age of 61. She was able to complete pioneering research in her acclaimed work on Wu Han that was published in Chinese as well as English, [Mary G. Mazur, Wu Han, Historian: Son of China’s Times (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2011)]. According to the China Quarterly review: “Wu Han, Historian, is the result of many years of dedicated and meticulous study of a key figure in the intellectual history of modern China. Not only does this important book examine the personal, social, and historical contexts that produced a man with 20th-century Chinese intellectuals….Most importantly, this learned study emphasizes the crucial, inevitable, and often fatal link between the study of history in modern Chinese society and its political culture. This book is a significant contribution to the field of modern Chinese history, culture, and society. It is a well-written book without jargon. It will be a valuable source to scholars and students of Chinese literature, history, political science and intellectual history. China Quarterly, June 2010.”


Mary was not only a brilliant scholar, but she was an engaged teacher, willing to work for her students and their individualized experience. Mary was amazing and I remember her going to El Colegio de Mexico to teach, along with other temporary positions. She had worked so hard for that opportunity, and frankly, she deserved more opportunities that were denied her due to both ageism and gender inequality. Nevertheless, her pursuit of excellence was recognized through her publications both in the United States and China and other recognitions such as a best article honor by the China Quarterly.


Mary Mazur continued her studies after retirement, but she never really retired in the common sense. Along with Bob, she was active in the Longbranch Improvement Club, where Mary served as an officer on the board as well as directing the club’s dinner theater program. Those who wish to share memories of this strong, incredible woman can write to her daughter, Dr. Amy Gale Mazur, who is the Claudius O. and Mary W. Johnson Distinguished Professor in Political Science at Washington State University, and Associate Researcher at  LIEPP- Sciences Po, Paris. In addition, a memorial open house will be held at the family home to celebrate Mary’s life on October 1 from noon to 4. All are welcome. Please send your communications and if you would like to attend the memorial to 

Apologies that I missed this post and the chance to add a few words of admiration and thanks for the memorial. Mary was a good friend and I regret we lost touch. It was not hard to write warm letters of support for her. Explaining her Wu Han work was easy, since she had done such a strong job of explaining it to me, and I could add that she would be a firecracker of a teacher: I learned something from her every time we talked, whether about her work, what was going on in the world, or probably most important, from her example of persistence and focus. She could be fierce in conversation, and often was, and she was quite aware of what she had missed or been denied, but her commitment was to the work, so that fierceness led to making connections and pushing things forward.