The University of Findlay along with the entire community mourns the recent death of Dr. Jerry Mallett, the inspiration behind the renowned Mazza Museum. Dr. Mallett grew up in nearby Toledo, OH, settling in Findlay, hiring in at what was Findlay College in 1968, and progressing on to serve as Professor in The University of Findlay’s Education Department through 2009. During his tenure, Dr. Mallett was recognized by students and colleagues as an outstanding faculty member, conducting hundreds of motivational talks for educators throughout the United States and internationally.
In 1982, anticipating Findlay College’s 100th anniversary, each academic division was granted a limited budget to create a special event marking the milestone. For the Teacher Education division, Dr. Mallett proposed starting a collection of original pieces of art from children’s books, while offering a speaking event on campus featuring a recognized children’s illustrator/author. Jerry says, “I thought it would be nice to have something, not just special for the anniversary year, but something more permanent to benefit the institution, the community and college majors”. Expenses added up quickly but, equipped with financial support from two alumni, August and Aleta Mazza (who had always been supportive of cultural events), the Mazza Museum opened to coincide with the anniversary celebration.The Museum has grown to include more than 7,800 original illustrations, becoming one of the world’s largest collections of original artwork by children’s book illustrators.
Dr. Mallett never wanted to emphasize the sheer size of the collection, maintaining…“of more importance are the activities we are developing with the educational programs and the consequent involvement of adults and children in our collection.” Most recently, Jerry has served as the Museum’s curator, assisting with the annual exhibition rotation, contributing to summer conference activities and preparing works for a new gallery expected to open this Fall.
Condolences streamed in from former colleagues and students sharing personal memories and wisdom gleaned while in Dr. Mallett’s classroom, reflecting many career choices inspired by Jerry. Those who knew him best speak of his love for his family, genuine kindness, a constant smile, sense of fun and humor, and of course his passion and delight for children's books, as well as theater and opera. The significant growth of the Mazza Museum has been a result of Jerry’s vision and passion, along with continuing generosity and support from the community.
A memorial service celebrating Jerry’s life will be held Friday, September 11 at 3 pm in the Winebrenner Theological Seminary TLB Auditorium. Please call 419-434-4560 or email the Mazza Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you plan to attend.
Attendees are also encouraged to visit the Mazza Museum located in the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion between 1-3 pm, prior to the service.