Debra Mazur in memoriam (1953-2021)


Debra MazurOn January 11, 2021, one day shy of her 68th birthday, Wayne State University lost a treasured member of our community and staff after a year-long battle with cancer. Deb Mazur served as an administrator at Wayne State since 1993, first for the Department of Computer Science, and then, since 2012, for the Departments of Anthropology and Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Deb is remembered by the Department of Anthropology’s faculty, staff, and students for the tireless energy and organizational efforts that she devoted to her position and to the many faculty colleagues and students who she assisted. She was dedicated to making the world around her operate more efficiently; she was a rigorous recycler, careful record-keeper, and miracle-worker when it came to navigating the university’s financial system and finding creative solutions to seemingly intractable administrative challenges.

Behind the surface of her administrative persona, Deb was a deeply sensitive and generous friend to many in the department. She made it her personal mission to help faculty organize their unkempt offices, enjoyed shopping for bargains when assisting with equipment purchases for classes and departmental supplies, and often left thoughtful coupons, news articles, and presents for her colleagues and their families in their mailboxes.

Deb was passionate about learning new things. She participated in many Wayne State courses during her time as a university employee. Her favorite topics were local history, historic preservation, and interior design. Deb enjoyed spending her free time learning about historic furniture and home remodeling before her illness. She spent the past few years engaged in refurbishing her mid-century modern home with period furnishings, renovating her kitchen, a task she was very proud of having accomplished, and frequenting estate sales and antique shops in the process. After joining the Department of Anthropology, Deb became an active participant in local historic preservation and archaeology efforts, paying visits to sites under excavation by departmental archaeologists and attending local history events. During her illness, she spent time reading a draft of one faculty member’s book on Detroit and voluntarily copyedited it with the same fervor and attention to detail that she devoted to her administrative job.

Deb was looking forward to renewing her passion for travel upon retirement, first with a trip to the American Southeast. She was also planning to enroll in anthropology courses as a student. While we regret that she was unable to pursue these plans, she was already a valued member of the Department of Anthropology’s intellectual community. Her experience, expertise, and generosity were appreciated by all, and she will be deeply missed.

Donations in her name can be sent to Preservation Detroit, an organization she supported.

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