Stanley Z. Mazer, a social activist and teacher who 40 years ago sought a "human renewal" for Baltimore, died of an infection Monday at University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 68 and lived in the city's Mount Vernon, where he restored an 1840 home.
A leader in the city's anti-poverty movement, he joined the faculty in 1968 of what is now Baltimore City Community College. He became a dean, vice president and chairman of the allied human services department.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he earned his undergraduate degree at Brandeis University in 1956, then a master's in social work from Adelphi University and a doctorate in urban education from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Arriving in Baltimore in the early 1960s to take a social work job at the Jewish Community Center, he was hired in 1963 by then-Mayor Philip H. Goodman as the city's first director of human renewal, a post designed to focus attention on people displaced by urban renewal programs.
By 1965, he was director for neighborhood development at the old Community Action Agency. One of his early goals was construction of the Waxter Center for Senior Citizens on Cathedral Street.
In the mid-1960s, Dr. Mazer often tangled with fellow city welfare officials. He pushed for passage of a law that would prevent "renting inadequate houses to welfare recipients and supporting slum landlords." The measure never passed. He also focused attention on an 18-block section of East Baltimore north of Johns Hopkins Hospital where, nearly four decades later, renewal plans are being implemented for a biotechnology park.
He also disagreed with the site chosen in the Arbutus-Catonsville area where the University of Maryland, Baltimore County was built. Nearly 40 years ago, he said its location would "hold down" African-American students.
"He had a great empathy and concern for people who were - and are - disadvantaged," said the Rev. William J. Watters, pastor of St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, where Dr. Mazer was a member. "He spoke of the need for government to step in and make life different for those who don't have much in terms of this world's goods. He loved his position teaching - he could have moved on - but he preferred to stay here and make a difference in other people's lives."
Friends recalled how he possessed an ability to put people at ease, often by welcoming new students. He often walked his dog through Mount Vernon Place and handed out community college applications to the unemployed sitting on benches.
"He was an excellent educator. He had real vision - he loved Baltimore and thought it was one of the greatest cities in the world," said Harry E. Smith, professor of human service at the community college. "He had a knack for looking at issues and relating those to course content. He had high expectations of his students and gave them a vision and purpose. He had real ability to bring people of diverse cultures and interests together. He was all-inclusive."
Dr. Mazer enjoyed living in Baltimore's older homes. In his 40 years here, he owned three - two in Mount Vernon and one in Charles Village. For the past seven years, he had lived on Madison Street near the Washington Monument.
"It's not enough to bring people downtown for concerts and plays, we've got to educate people away from the various prejudices and fears that have built up around the city," he told The Evening Sun in 1974.
"I have found most cities worry about facades, the main streets. The way to evaluate a city, I think, is from the back - go to the alleys for a true test of its strength," he told The Sun in 1967.
In his free time, Dr. Mazer drew, painted and did sculptures that filled his home.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Ignatius, 740 N. Calvert St.
Survivors include his wife of 30 years, Marianne Githens, a professor of political science at Goucher College; two sons, Jeffrey Mazer of Chicago and Jonathan Githens-Mazer of London; two daughters, Sharon Mazer Nealon of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Julie Mazer Lee of Parkton; and a granddaughter.