The University of Findlay community is mourning the untimely death of beloved education professor Jerry Mallett, Ed.D., who founded UF’s Mazza Museum, fostered many of its community learning endeavors, and most recently served as its curator.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Mallett,” said University President Katherine Fell, Ph.D. “His talent and passion for literacy education was renowned, and his teaching positively influenced thousands of people of all ages. He has been an integral part of the UF community for decades. We have been blessed by his vision, energy and wit.”
Benjamin Sapp, who succeeded Mallett as museum director, said Mallett’s ideas and invaluable educational contributions have and will continue to change lives for the better. “The toddler whose interest in reading is inspired by a lively illustration displayed at the Mazza Museum, the seasoned teacher who comes up with exciting new lesson plans while attending a museum conference, the young adult museum visitor who grins with delight when recognizing a painting from his favorite childhood book – all of these meaningful moments are because of Jerry. He was a visionary, a friend and an inspiration to us all. His passing is tragic, but I am thankful that he left such a wonderful educational legacy,” said Sapp.
The Mazza Museum began in 1982 as a four-item collection of original pieces of art from children’s books, and as a speaking event that featured a campus visit by an internationally recognized children’s illustrator/author. Mallett developed the concept, and with the financial help of alumni August (’41) and Aleta (Pfost ’41) Mazza, made it happen to help celebrate then-Findlay College’s 100-year anniversary. “I thought it would be nice to have something, not just for that year, but something permanent that would benefit the institution, the community and our majors on a permanent basis,” Mallett had explained.
Since then, the Mazza Museum, housed in the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion, has become one of the world’s largest museums of original artwork by children’s book illustrators. Its purpose, as established by Mallett, is to promote literacy and enrich the lives of all people through the art of children’s literature. The Dr. Jerry J. Mallett Institute serves as the umbrella organization that oversees the museum’s 28 educational programs and outreach activities. For more museum information visit www.mazzamuseum.org.
The University offers its condolences to Mallett’s family. A private funeral service will be held soon, and UF is also planning to hold a memorial service during the fall semester; details will be provided when they are finalized.