UPDATE: George Mazurak, newspaper editor, remembered

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | 12:22 p.m. CDT; updated 2:12 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This story has been modified to correct the positions Jason Rosenbaum held at the Columbia Daily Tribune.

George Mazurak liked to joke that he had ink in his blood.

Wherever he went, he would buy the local newspaper and read it cover-to-cover over a cup of coffee. He then brought the paper home to add to his collection.

“He had stacks of newspapers from all over the place,” his wife Maureen said.

George Elliott Mazurak of Columbia died in his home Saturday, July 31, 2010, of complications with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 56.

He was born Sept. 23, 1953, in Independence to Fred and Margaret Mazurak. He married Maureen O’Day on Feb. 22, 1991.

Mr. Mazurak graduated from MU with a degree in English. He worked at the Fulton Sun Gazette and the Iowa Daily Nonpareil before coming to work at the Columbia Daily Tribune. He worked as a crime and courthouse reporter for 15 years and as an associate city editor for five years.

He gained a reputation for being persistent in his reporting, said Mike DeSantis, who worked with Mr. Mazurak at the Fulton Sun Gazette. “He was really thorough, and that’s something no computer can teach you to do,” DeSantis said. “He just wrote good stories.”

At the Tribune, he helped young reporters understand their craft.

“He taught me a tremendous amount about journalism and reporting,” said Jason Rosenbaum, who worked under Mr. Mazurak as an intern in 2005 and as a Tribune staff reporter from 2006 to 2008. “He had a good sense of humor, but he was very professional and devoted to the craft.”

He loved being physically active. He ran, hiked and biked, and he would regularly exercise on the MKT and Bear Creek trails. He and his family also enjoyed hiking in Three Creeks Conservation Area and along the Gans River. He even went skydiving on multiple occasions when he was younger.

Mr. Mazurak stayed active as his disease progressed. “He didn’t focus on what he couldn’t do,” his wife said. When he was unable to run, he biked. When he was unable to bike, he focused on reading and writing.

Mr. Mazurak grew in his faith as he faced his condition. “I saw him deteriorate physically, but as his diseased progressed, his Christian faith grew deeper,” his wife said. He was peaceful and unafraid of death.

“I hope I die as well as him,” she said.

Mr. Mazurak is survived by his wife; a daughter, Laura; and a sister, Christine, of Independence.

His brother, Russell, died earlier.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, at Christian Fellowship Church, 4600 Christian Fellowship Road, Columbia. A reception will follow. Burial will be at Sugar Creek Cemetery, 1400 S. Hickory Grove Road, Columbia.

Memorial donations can be made to Christian Fellowship Church.

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