Joseph P. Mazurek, former Montana attorney general, died Tuesday among family and friends at age 64. Joe Mazurek was the gold standard as a political leader, public servant and family man. He served his country, state, community and family with distinction.
Joe was born July 27, 1948, in San Diego to Priscilla and Thomas Mazurek. When he was 9 months of age, the family relocated to Helena. He graduated from Helena High School in 1966 after serving as student body president. There he met and courted his future bride, Patty, the summer before his junior year.
Joe attended the University of Montana, where he served as ASUM president and participated in the ROTC program. After graduating and marrying Patty on June 13, 1970, he served his country as a first lieutenant in the United States Army from 1970 to 1972. He then attended the University of Montana School of Law and directed the Montana Law Review as associate editor, graduating in 1975. He went on to practice with the Helena firm of Gough, Shanahan, Johnson & Waterman, PLLP, from 1975 to 1992. Continuing with his political interests, Joe was elected for three consecutive terms in the Montana state Senate, where he served as Senate president and Judiciary Committee chairman. He was twice elected as Montana attorney general, a position he held from 1993 to 2000. Joe worked with the Crowley Fleck law firm after holding office until his retirement in 2008.
Throughout his professional and political career, Joe was known for his integrity, honesty and respect for ethics. He was a unifying leader and bridge-builder. He was an extraordinary political leader revered for working across party lines to advance the best interests of the people of Montana. As a point of pride for Joe, he worked to pass spending increases for K-12 and higher education while in the Senate, led the state’s involvement with the FBI to bring the Freemen standoff in eastern Montana to a peaceful conclusion, secured Montana’s settlement against the tobacco companies and argued successfully before the U.S. Supreme Court as attorney general. He was a commissioner of the National Uniform State Law Commission from 1984 and was designated a “life member.”
Joe was known for his infectious enthusiasm for good work and honor in service. He demonstrated genuine concern for others and inspired many. He served on the boards of directors for the Special Olympics of Montana, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Helena, Helena Youth Resources and a number of other charitable organizations. Joe championed all those around him and helped create a better future for his community.
Despite his numerous obligations and commitments outside his home, Joe always put his family first. He was a shining example of family commitment as a loving father and husband. He and Patty were blessed with 42 years of marriage, three children and two grandchildren. He was a sweet and sincere spouse and raised his boys, Tom, Jeff and Dan, to be honorable men. He could often be found on the sidelines of his sons’ sporting events, or even as coach in their younger years, shouting his encouragement and whistling his signature whistle. An outdoor enthusiast, he enjoyed river trips, fishing, hunting, skiing, golfing and hiking. He shared his love for the outdoors with his family. He guided his family with a simple adage to “work hard and make your family a good name” which will forever be observed and cherished.
Joe was recognized for his exceptional accomplishments and service when he received the University of Montana Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010. Despite his own humility, he was praised as a man of distinction, honor and decency. He was a gift to all those who had the privilege of knowing him, and will be deeply missed.
Joe is survived by his wife, Patty Mazurek of Helena; sons, Tom (Kathryn) Mazurek of Bozeman, Jeff (Danielle) Mazurek of Helena and Dan Mazurek of Helena; and siblings, Byron (Sue) Mazurek of Butte, Charles (Skoge) Mazurek of Clancy, Bill (Lorraine) Mazurek of Oregon, David Mazurek of Helena and Sonia (John Hagey) Mazurek and Nancy Mazurek, both of Fairbanks, Alaska. Also surviving are grandchildren Elizabeth Mazurek and Tyler Mazurek. Joe was preceded in death by his mother, Priscilla, and father, Tom, and Tom’s second wife, Jane.
There will be a vigil service in the Carroll College P.E. Center Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. with family receiving friends from 6 to 7 p.m. Mass of resurrection will be celebrated at the Cathedral of St. Helena on Friday, Aug. 31, at noon, led by Our Lady of the Valley Parish, where Joe was a member. A private interment will be held at a later date.
The family requests that any memorials need to be made to the following: