I was saddened to learn of Marty Jezer's passing.
My first contact with Marty occurred towards the end of 2000, when he emailed me shortly after I joined the ranks of Stutt-L. We learned that we had many things in common. We were of a similar age and belonged to a unique group of persons who stutter. Marty and I were both long-term users of the Edinburgh Masker, having acquired the small mechanical device back in the 1970's.
The majority of Edinburgh Masker owners discarded the apparatus many years ago due to lack of success and/or personal discomfort. Each time the wearer spoke, his/her own voice was obliterated by a buzzing sound, activated by a throat microphone and transmitted via wires/tubing and ear moulds. I persevered and wore my 'mechanical crutch' for more than two decades, while Marty had probably used his for nearly 30 years.
Although the device never provided Marty with a great degree of fluency, he frequently told me that he simply felt more comfortable while wearing it. We agreed that it gave us the confidence to venture into speaking situations that we might, otherwise, have avoided.
During our many exchanges, we discovered that (in the 1960's) we had both attended a two weeks course in Jersey (a small island located between the UK and France), run by the late Dr Bill Kerr (from Scotland). With his typical frankness, Marty often referred to Kerr as a charlatan.
In addition to our lengthy emails, we also chatted by telephone and expressed a desire to meet in person. I mentioned that I was intending to cross the Atlantic to attend the National Stuttering Association Annual Convention in Anaheim, California in 2002. Initially, Marty doubted that he would be able to attend, but re-scheduled his commitments to be present. I was elated.
During the conference, we spent a considerable time in each other's company and I was thrilled that he found time to sit in on two of the workshops in which I was involved. I have just been looking at a photograph of Marty, Junior Tereva and me that was taken at the closing banquet. It brought back some poignant memories.
Those who had the privilege of meeting Marty could not fail to have been impressed by his immense presence. Despite his pronounced stutter (even when wearing his Edinburgh Masker) he was an excellent communicator. Although initially apprehensive about addressing audiences, he told me that relished the opportunities that had presented themselves during recent years.
My contact with Marty during the past year, or so, was somewhat limited, although we continued to exchange emails from time to time. As some of you may know, production of the Edinburgh Masker ceased many years ago, making acquisition of spare parts problematical. However, as a result of my involvement with several Internet groups, I occasionally became aware of PWS who were in possession of surplus models/components. I passed this information to Marty.
I last called him several months ago when (unknown to me) he had just received some further treatment. We spoke only briefly because he was feeling tired and I arranged to call him at a later date. Sadly, I never did make that call.
Like myself (and many other PWS), Marty had a great affinity for the written word. He was a superb writer and journalist. He was also a warm human being who inspired and encouraged others by refusing to allow his stutter to stand in the way of whatever he wished to do in life. He achieved so much - his contributions were wide and varied.
Marty will be sadly missed, particularly within the stuttering community where he was held in such high esteem. My thoughts go out to his family and loved ones at this time.
Though his pen may now be silent, time will never erase the indelible memories that I retain of a truly remarkable man.