Serafino Paul Mazza Jr., 82, State College, died suddenly Saturday at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center with his loving family surrounding him.
He was born in Cresson, son of Italian immigrants. His father, Serafino Paul Mazza Sr., originally of Sersale, Calabria, and his mother, Vera Margaret Runzo of Cefalu, Sicily, were married in Cresson in 1925.
Surviving are his beloved wife, Maralyn (Davis); and five children: Laura Anne Mazza-Dixon, David Paul Mazza and wife, N. Taylor McCall-Mazza, Virginia Marie Mazza and partner, Theresa Vescio, Susan Margaret Van Etten and husband, Robert, and Serafino Paul Mazza III and wife, Sue Ann Beninsky Mazza.
The 15 grandchildren who will remember his loving concern and passionate interest in their lives are Courtney Allyn Stachowski, Alyson Mansfield Mazza, Bethany Marie Dixon, Niven Paige McCall-Mazza, Alessandra Davis Stachowski, Danielle Witlin Mazza, Fallon Grace Mazza, Isabella Marie Stachowski, Lundun Davidson McCall-Mazza, Serafino Paul Mazza IV, Colten Van Etten, Joshua Martin Mazza, Tyler Van Etten, Serafina Hope Mazza and Madison Faith Mazza.
Others in Paul Mazza's immediate family include his beloved sister, Rose Marie Stiffler and husband, Michael, and their children, Claudia Mitten Hon and Eleanor Sapiro Mitten.
Paul and Maralyn's extended family includes his late brother-in-law, Donald W. Davis, his wife, Virginia Davis, and their children, Randall Davis, Deborah Kvam, Donald Davis III, Palmer Davis, Jennifer Heard and Ruthie Davis.
He was preceded in death by his eldest son, Thomas Anthony, on March 10, 2001.
Paul graduated from State College High School in 1947. He studied accounting, history and philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1952, and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1955. He married Maralyn June Davis of State College in 1954, and they moved back to State College in 1956.
He established a law firm with Ned Willard and Wayland Dunaway, which is now The Mazza Law Group. His special concern for the elderly shaped his career as a lawyer. His concern for the needs of farm families led to his formation of the Pennsylvania Farmer's Association Legal Service in 1972. He served as well on the State College Planning and Zoning Commission and many other community boards, most spectacularly the Central Pennsylvania Fourth Fest Fireworks Committee.
Of all of his accomplishments, it was South Hills School of Business and Technology of which he was proudest. In 1970, he and his wife founded the two-year associate degree school to meet the employment needs for highly skilled employees in the area. Expanding now to four campuses, Paul's legacy continues with South Hills' more than 6,000 graduates. On the first day of school, he shared his three most important philosophies with the new students by stating, "We will be nice to you, you will be nice to each other, and you will work harder at our school than at any other time in your life." He put his students first, and any time that he passed a student in the hallway, he would ask, "Is there anything I can do for you today?" He truly considered his students, his faculty and his staff part of his family.
In 1990, Paul started the tradition of Sunday afternoon Music Picnics on the State College campus of South Hills. Enjoyed by young and old, these free concerts feature local musical talent and lemonade for a penny. The tradition will continue as it enters its 24th year this June.
Maralyn and Paul have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of others by being interested in each person who comes across their path and making themselves available to assist those people in any way they can. In 2012, they founded the Mazza Foundation for Education, a nonprofit organization devoted to creating opportunity for students through scholarships, nurturing social responsibility and advancing educational innovation.
Paul's love for his family was boundless. He and Maralyn loved nothing more than gathering on the coast of Maine with all of their family and friends. The bonds they formed in Jonesport, a small fishing village on the hard-scrabble coast of Maine, carry on to this day in his children's and grandchildren's love for each other and the area.
Paul was determined to share his Italian roots with his family. In 1988, he traveled to Italy with all of his children and has been taking several grandchildren to Italy every year since. The friends he met along the way are now part of his ever-expanding family.
All who knew Paul know that baseball was his passion. After a 40-year hiatus, he donned his uniform once again and has played in the Center Sluggers League for the New York Yankees ever since. He was still practicing at the batting cage last month.
Words cannot express the profound influence S. Paul Mazza Jr. has had on his family, friends and community. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14, 2013, at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton St., State College. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 16, 2013, at the Good Shepherd Roman Catholic Church, 867 Gray's Woods Blvd., Port Matilda. A celebration of life will be held for family and friends at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Nittany Lion Inn.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Mazza Foundation for Education, c/o First National Bank, 2591 Park Center Blvd., State College, PA 16801.
Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.