When I try to explain it to people, I tell them about knowing Marty from the NSA conventions and the stuttering listservs, about how I would jokingly call him "Obi-Marty" because he was wise and eloquent, about how he is a personal hero and role model for me.
But I think the main reason has to do with his book. After it was published, I heard about it and how good it was, but then one day I received a copy in the mail. He had sent me a free copy. I thought, "That's very nice of him, but why did he send one to me?" I was concerned about his profits if he was sending one to everyone he knew. I started looking through the book, and to my utter amazement, I was in it! In a chapter he called "Self-Help Heroes," he called me a personal hero of his, describing me as a "sassy Texan," saying, "Because she has so much to say and at times such difficulty in saying it, she reminds me of myself." Wow! I was floored. *I* was a hero to HIM??? That must be a misprint - it must have been printed backward. Having Marty Jezer say that about me is undoubtedly one of the greatest honors of my life.
So that's why I have to go honor him.
My recollections of Marty are of a gentle person who listened to others and of a funny guy.
I particularly recall a speech Marty gave at the Greenfield Toastmasters club, Poet's Seat Speakers. He was competing against a professional speaker in a humorous speech contest and he won! In his speech, Marty told about how he had lost the notes to his speech somewhere in his cluttered house and therefore could not rehearse the speech he had planned to give. Thus it was necessary for him to wing it for the contest. At the end of the meeting, I and a couple of others told Marty that we thought that he had given a great impromptu talk and we were sorry we didn't get to hear his original speech.
As was his wont, Marty smiled and explained that he HAD given his original speech! There never were any lost notes.
As someone has written, for a guy who could have a hard time getting his words out, Marty had a spectacular sense of humor. We travelled our share of miles together, and he was always a rock, a solid big brother to whom one could turn when things got rough and know that if he couldn't solve your problem, he would certainly understand it.
I will miss his columns, but more I'll miss knowing he's in the world.
My fondest memory of Marty is having the good fortune to attend one of his workshops at the convention that dealt with introducing ourselves. That is so hard for people who stutter to do this, but Marty made sort of a "role playing" thing out of it. He made it easy, with his usual grace and humor. One of the exercises was to walk down a "reception line" and introduce ourselves. As I got to Marty, we shook hands, and all I could notice was that huge smile of his. I really felt that Marty truly cared that everybody was comfortable introducing themselves to him. How could you not be?
I know that Marty's partner, Arlene, attended a couple of the workshops that my wife gave for spouses and friends of people who stutter. Hopefully, she will continue to attend the NSA conventions and these types of workshops and tell people what it was like to be with Marty, and how he coped so gracefully with his stuttering.
I will shed some tears, but I will also remember the humor and laughter of Marty Jezer. The world is a slightly lesser place already without him.
Marty will be missed.
As a fellow published writer, I always admired Marty for mastering both the long(books) and short(newspaper and magazine articles) forms of writing. As far as facing the challenge of his stuttering, Marty was a fighter always exploring ways to minimize his stuttering. He was not ashamed to try various fluency enhancing electronic devices. I was honored when he invited me to join a panel of fellow writers who happen to stutter to read some of their works at a NSA Convention. Marty was wearing one of these fluency devices during his reading and it seemed to help.
When his book on stuttering came out, we exchanged emails about doing radio interviews to promote the book. Marty shied away from doing radio interviews for his other books. I told Marty that the radio or tv interviewer expected me to stutter as a representative of the National Stuttering Project. And certainly the author of a book on his experiences as a stutterer was expected to stutter. Otherwise he would lose his credibility. This seemed to help and he started to do radio interviews.
Finally I was thrilled for Marty when he got some of the Hollywood treatment when he went to the movie premiere of the Abbie Hoffman movie "Steal the Movie" which was partially based on his book on Hoffman.
It is hard to imagine going to an NSA Convention and not seeing Marty there. Although I'm sure this year's NSA Convention will remember and honor him.
With real sadness in my heart I wanted to present to all of you my sincere condolences. Marty was really a great and unforgettable light. He was also the first person from this list I personally met in Anaheim. I will never forget his bright smile. Immediately I felt at home. He send me his book, because I could not find in Europe. I sent him some bancnotes, and it was our intention to go to drink something together at our next meeting with the change. This will be in the hereafter...
Today the book is on my shelf in my office. Everybody can find it between scientific an medical works. It is clearly visible. Smetimes I see people looking at it. Somebody asked about it: this is from one of the most courageous people I have ever met, I answered. He became my role model of acceptance and challenge.
May he still inspire lots of young PWS. Marty, you are alive in each of us. Thanks.
I've been thinking today of all the ways he helped me, and many others, to accept our stuttering and move on! He was a great friend of of ours, wasn't he?
The poem below says it all.
Some people come into our lives
and quickly go...Some stay for awhile
and embrace our silent dreams.
They help us become aware
of the delicate winds of hope...
and we discover within every human spirit
there are wings yearning to fly.
They help our hearts to see that
the only stairway to the stars
is woven with dreams...
and we find ourselves
unafraid to reach high.
They celebrate the true essence
of who we are...
and have faith in all
that we may become.
Some people awaken us
to new and deeper realizations...
for we gain insight
from the passing whisper of their wisdom
Throughout our lives we are sent
meant to share our journey
however brief or lasting their stay
they remind us why we are here.
To learn... to teach... to nurture... to love
Some people come into our lives
to cast a steady light
upon our path and guide our every step
their shining belief in us
helps us to believe in ourselves.
Some people come into our
lives to teach us about love...
The love that rests within ourselves.
Let us reach out to others
and feel the bliss of giving
for love is far richer in action
that it ever is in words.
Some people come into our lives
and they move our souls to sing
and make our spirits dance.
They help us to see that everything on earth
is part of the incredibility of life...
and that it is always there
for us to take of its joy.
Some people come into our lives
and leave footprints on our hearts
and we are never ever the same.
by Flavia Weedn
At first I found it difficult communicating with Marty because of his stuttering, but after awhile it became easier. He always put me at ease so that I would not be uncomfortable with his stuttering.
Marty was a wonderfully bright and unique individual. I feel badly that we did not get to see each other more often. It was always special when Marty would come to family "simchas"and he did come to many of them.
Even up to the end Paul and Marty communicated via e-amil. They debated, had heated discussions and argued about many topics and issues pertaining to Marty's Brattleboro columns. However, all of this was always done through mutual love and respect.
Marty was a mensch!! He played a very big part in our lives and we will miss him a great deal. We love you Marty.........
I am just using this post to honor Marty's memory and the influence he had on me in the late Nineties, as I wrestled with writing and self-publishing my first novel despite continuing fears about my stuttering. Marty and I first corresponded over the Stutt-L listserve in 1996, and in 1999 I had the pleasure to meet him in person at the NSA's annual conference in Seattle. His personal emails to me as well as his life experiences shared in his "Stuttering" memoir increased my determination that I could follow my dreams of being a writer. As a novelist who now has 5 books in print with major publishers, and one who has spoken in front of many large audiences while both advertising and controlling my stutter, I recognize Marty as one of the many leaders on whose shoulders I stand. If he touched my life in just a few emails and personal conversations, I can only imagine what he meant to close family and friends.
Sincerely & may God bless,
C. Kelly Robinson
Author, Between Brothers, No More Mr. Nice Guy, and the The Strong, Silent Type
I'd like to add my very belated tears to the torrent.
As too often happens, it took a few months before I realized I was missing something in my email inbox.
Where were those fine, clear, thoughtful, articles? Answer: no more, of course. How stupid and selfish of me not to have paid closer attention. After all, I knew he was ill.
I came late to Marty, only about 18 months ago when a friend in DC sent me one of his colums. I subscribed at once, and really appreciated his take on events.
The great thing was, he thought for himself. No off-the-peg soundbites or hand-me-down ideologies. I admired that, and it's what the world needs. He is much missed.
I just wondered: Are his past columns archived anywhere? The old website www.sover.net/~mjez seems no longer to work.
Words at least are immortal. Marty's are too good to lose. I hope someone might arrange this.
I was much moved by the memorials by Joyce Marcel and Randy Holhut. No doubt there are many more.
In sadness, and struggle for a better world, a luta continua!
Aidan in Yorkshire, England