Memorial Page

John P Kazmaier

John Patterson Kazmaier, 74, Hollidaysburg, passed away Monday.

He was born in Altoona, son of the late Jack Kemp Kazmaier and Jane Patterson Kazmaier and stepson of T. Dean Lower. On June 22, 1968, he married Deedra “Dede” Mauk.

Surviving are his wife; a son, Christopher Mauk Kazmaier and wife, Jessica (Price), of Mechanicsburg; and a sister, Diana J. Kazmaier and husband, George Foord, of Newton, Mass.

John was educated at Baker Elementary School, Roosevelt Junior High School, Altoona High School, class of ’60 and Valley Forge Military Junior College. He attended Penn State, as well as a number of banking schools. As a proud patriot, he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. He was employed as an executive at the former Mid-State, then Keystone Financial Bank for 35 years. After his banking career, he worked for the Allegheny Heritage Development Corporation.

Civic pride led to John’s active involvement in many organizations, including supporting his high school alma mater and Penn State.

He spearheaded the campaign to have Connecticut-based sculptor Heinz Warneke create the Altoona Mountain Lion statue. He helped to organize the Altoona Area School District Foundation, participating on that board for many years after serving as the organization’s first president.

For more than 30 years, John was on the Penn State Altoona Advisory Board, and his strong convictions about the revitalization of downtown Altoona were instrumental in promoting the growing downtown PSU Altoona campus. His idea of paradise was “to see a renewed and prosperous in-town Altoona.” The Kazmaier Family Building that houses the Office of Development and Alumni Relations is part of that dream.

For their philanthropic support, his family was inducted into the Platinum category of Penn State Altoona’s Ivyside Society, the highest level of recognition. In 2008, John received a Penn State Altoona Honorary Alumni Award.

John was a member of PSU’s Mount Nittany Society. In 2015, he received a Distinguished Honorary Alumnus Award from Penn State University Park for his significant contributions to the “welfare, reputation and prestige” of the university.

John’s love of and commitment to his hometown were evident in his tireless efforts to be involved in multiple other community initiatives. Altoona has Hustle was an Altoona Chamber of Commerce project when John served as president. He also served on the PA State Chamber of Commerce Board, the PA Transportation Commission and GAEDC (Greater Altoona Economic Development Corporation) as head of the strategic planning committee. John helped found the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation and was serving as the organization’s current chairman. He was made a Blair County Fellow by this group and also given a philanthropy award as a token of appreciation for his service and leadership.

He won a National Banking Award and received a Presidential Citation in the Rose Garden from President Ronald Reagan for his economic development efforts for the Moshannon Valley Chamber of Commerce.

John was an avid supporter of the arts. He assisted the Mishler Theatre seat campaign committee, which helped to preserve that cultural landmark. He was instrumental in bringing the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art branch location to Altoona, and he served on SAMA’s board at Saint Francis College for 18 years. SAMA honored him with an award for outstanding service to the arts.

Various community clubs were an important part of John’s outreach. He prided himself on a perfect attendance record at the Rotary Club of Altoona, where he served a term as president. He very much enjoyed visiting Rotary clubs in other countries, as Dede and he loved their many opportunities to travel the world. John was a Paul Harris Fellow in this organization. At one time, he was active in the Jaycees in State College and he was awarded the Kiwanis Club of Altoona Distinguished Citizen Award in 2008.

Paying attention to everything connected to Altoona was on John’s radar screen, planes and trains included. He was on the Altoona Blair County Airport Authority Board and chair of the Board of the Railroaders Museum Development Corporation, which founded the museum in order to properly celebrate Altoona’s rich railroad history, and spearheaded major fundraising efforts to support it.

He thrived on coming up with ideas to promote and enhance the experience of living in the Altoona area. He was chairman of Altoona’s Sesquicentennial Committee.

Mid-State Bank’s “Have a Rosy Day” slogan was John’s creation, and the mission to erect the Gospel Hill flag was a source of intense pride. As president of the board of the Cancer Society, his concept of Daffodil Days was a popular idea that went statewide. He received recognition as an outstanding volunteer from that group. John persevered through ups and downs to save and preserve the oldest wooden roller coaster in the country, Lakemont Park’s Leap-the-Dips.

John was a longtime member of Zion Lutheran Church, Hollidaysburg. He was a third generation member of Spruce Creek Rod and Gun Club, as well as a member of Ancient Gastronomic Order of Rattling Reptiles. He was also a founding member of Blairmont Club.

On a personal level, hobbies through the years included a love of travel, jogging, golf and reading. John was always a people person and he particularly valued a group of close friends from childhood called PALS.ltoo

In answering a series of interview questions for a 1987 Altoona Mirror “Sunday Spotlight” feature article, John was asked how he would like his personal epitaph to read.  His response was, “He tried to make things happen for Altoona!”  Those who knew him best realize that John’s hometown never had a more dedicated, enthusiastic native son.

Friends will be received from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, 2017, at The Stevens Mortuary Inc., 1421 Eighth Ave., Altoona, and from 10 until the 11 a.m. funeral service, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, at Zion Lutheran Church, 500 Allegheny St., Hollidaysburg. The Rev. Greg Harbaugh will conduct the celebration of John’s life. Interment will be at Alto-Reste Park Cemetery. Arrangements are by Mauk & Yates Funeral Home Inc., Juniata and The Stevens Mortuary Inc., 1421 Eighth Ave., Altoona.

For those choosing to send a memorial contribution, the family would appreciate support of The Penn State Altoona Fund or the Gospel Hill Flag Fund at the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation, the Altoona Area School District Foundation, or Zion Lutheran Church, Hollidaysburg.


Altoona has Lost its ‘biggest cheerleader’ fondly remembered

Friends say Kazmaier was a visionary, force behind project

John Kazmaier

Downtown Altoona has lost one of its biggest supporters.

John P. Kazmaier, 74, of Hollidaysburg died Monday.

“Altoona has lost its biggest cheerleader, John just loved this area. John was a visionary, one of the dearest gentlemen I have ever met,” said Jodi Cessna, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation, which Kazmaier helped found in 1994. He was board chairman at the time of his death.

Kazmaier was a 1960 graduate of Altoona High School and attended Valley Forge Military Junior College, and upon graduation, served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam before returning to his hometown of Altoona.

He retired from M&T Bank as an executive officer and has been recognized for his many professional contributions.

His commitment to his hometown of Altoona has been exemplified by his efforts to promote and develop the community. He spearheaded the Altoona Mountain Lion Project with Heinz Warneke, sculptor, served as the first AASD Foundation board president, and was a force behind the development of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and the Gospel Hill Flag in Altoona.

“There wouldn’t be a flag on Gospel Hill, and there wouldn’t be a Mountain Lion in front of the high school without John Kazmaier,” Cessna said.

Kazmaier is given credit for the growth of Penn State Altoona in downtown Altoona.

“John was a visionary, servant and passionate leader in our community and at Penn State Altoona,” said Chancellor and Dean Lori Bechtel-Wherry.

“He leaves an indelible positive impact on our campus, our community, and on all who knew and loved him. John was a source of inspiration to me. I admired his heartfelt commitment to our community, our city and to our college. John dedicated his life to improving our community, and he offered his steadfast support for any endeavor to make Altoona and Penn State Altoona better,” Bechtel-Wherry said, adding “I will always remember the day in 2006 when John invited me to ‘take a walk along the avenues in downtown Altoona to dream.’ It was his inspirational vision that was the seed for Penn State Altoona’s expanded presence in downtown Altoona.”

Marty Marasco, retired president and CEO of Altoona-Blair County Development Corp., said Kazmaier “had the vision and expressed that and took a chance to use several buildings in the downtown area. He was very concerned about the community and community development. You couldn’t ask for a more dedicated individual when it came to improving the community. He was an outstanding person, the kind of person that makes this area so special.”

In 2015, Kazmaier received the Penn State Honorary Alumni Award, which is given by the Penn State Alumni Association to honor individuals who are not graduates of Penn State but have made significant contributions toward its welfare, reputation or prestige.

The Kazmaier Family Building, home of the Office of Development and Alumni Relations on 12th Avenue, was named in honor of the family for the philanthropic support of both John, his wife, Dede, and John’s mother, Jane Patterson Kazmaier Lower.

John loved his hometown of Altoona.

“John was a guy who genuinely loved this community. Any time anybody would ask him to do or help with something, he was always eager to do what he possibly could without any type of recognition. He wasn’t a flashy guy who had to be rewarded for everything he did. He was a guy who had a great sense of what the community was all about and could be and constantly looked for ways to make that happen,” said Joe Hurd, president/CEO of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.

Tom Bradley, retired public relations director for the Altoona Area School District, got to  know Kazmaier through the AASD Foundation.

“He was a tireless worker in his efforts to resurrect downtown Altoona. He was always friendly, always upbeat and totally proud of his hometown Altoona,” Bradley said.

Funeral arrangements are being made through Mauk and Yates Funeral Home, 719 N. Fourth Ave.


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01/12/17 07:46 PM #14    

Paul R Caracciolo

To DeeDee and family,
I'd like to convey our deepest sympathys on your lose. John was truly great man. I believe in God's mercy, and in his timing to call us home. May he be at peace .
With Love, Paul and Denise

01/13/17 05:53 AM #15    

Nanette Anslinger

It was, sadly, not surprising to learn of John's death.  His last few years have been a struggle.  However, with his loving Dede beside him, he was still able to attended community events.  I know he wanted to maintain contact with his beloved Altoona as long as he was able.  The last time I saw him was at an art opening at the 321 Gallery in Hollidaysburg where he mingled with the patrons and relished the exhibit of local artists.  I was delighted to see him there.

My deepest sympathies to his adoring wife and his extended family for their devastating loss.  And to the Altoona community which has lost its most dynamic visionary . . .

01/13/17 10:52 AM #16    

Jeffrey C Dietze

Ann and I join the many classmates writing tributes to John; not only for his efforts in behalf of Altoona, but also for just the great person he was.  I remember him as a really happy person with a smile for everyone-Roosevelt through high school.  Unfortunately, as with so many classmates, we all went our separate ways and we lost track of each other.  The reunions enabled us to make contacts and I remember happily being able to talk to John at our reunion in 2015.  Not sure where his nickname "Soapy" came from, but I always liked it!  Our sympathies to Dede and the rest of the Kazmaier family.  Certainly, he is in our prayer list every night.

Jeff and Ann Dietze

01/13/17 04:42 PM #17    

James M Loy

Kay and I add our deep condolences to DeDe and the rest of John's family.  So much has been noted about John's contributions to our hometown and they are seemingly endless.  I will now always think of John when I drive by our Mountain Lion at AAHS.  Jeff and Ann's comment about that journey through Roosevelt and AHS  with his constant smile and endless good cheer are the memories to treasure.  I last chatted with John at the 2015 reunion when it was already so difficult for him to get out ,,, but there he was and his arrival just lifted the tone of an already great gathering.

DeDe, Kay and I will keep a candle lighted for you guys.  John is at peace and his light will shine in Altoona always.


Jim and Kay

01/14/17 09:33 AM #18    

Sandra A Gutshall (Kline)

I would like to add my condolences to Dede and the Kazmaier family on their loss.  One is never prepared for the impact of losing a loved one and my prayers are added to those of many others for your comfort in the memories you have of John.  (I, too, wondered where the name "Soapy" came from.)  In reading of all the accomplishments that John and Dede achieved in Altoona and beyond, I'll be much more aware of them when I see them on my visits to Altoona, and be grateful that I have known the source of them.  Al Holtzinger's comment: "Enjoy the view, John." is very touching.

01/14/17 05:58 PM #19    

Richard D Hess

June and I, too, were saddened to learn of John's passing and would like to extend our condolences to DeDe and the Kazmaier family.  He was a friend as well as a classmate not only through Rossevelt and Altoona High, but he and I also grew up in the same neighborhood and attended Baker School together.  So many of the coments made by classmates echo my sentiments as well.  It was a pleasure to know John and I enjoyed seeing and talking with him at the 2015 class reunion.  Even though he wasn't in the best of health, he had a smile on his face and a warm greeting.  He will truly be missed.

May you rest in peace, John.

Dick and June Hess

01/15/17 11:31 AM #20    

Alvin H Baker

How did he ever do all that stuff in one lifetime?  I knew he had done a lot, but wow!  So sorry to here of his passinfg.  I played trumpet with him at Roosevelt.  My condolences to his wife & family.   "Al"vin Baker

01/16/17 10:35 PM #21    

Nicki A Davis (Bibbo)

I am so sorry to hear of John's death. I have not seen him since our faabulous years in high school.    I am so impressed by his wonderful contributions to the area where we spent such wonderful times. My sincere condolences to his family and friends. I will always treasure my memories of John.


01/17/17 04:24 PM #22    

Gerald E Benton

Betsy and I want to extend our deepest sympathy to the Kazmaier family. John and I were classmates at Roosevelt, AAHS and socially at my fraternity at Penn State. The Altoona and  Penn State communities are going to miss a great ambassador and friend.

Jerry and Betsy Benton



01/25/17 12:18 PM #23    

Richard A Replogle

Margie and I are also greatly saddened by John's passing and have expressed our condolences to Dede. I can only echo the previous comments of our classmates and the newspapers about losing Altoona's greatest cheerleader. We live in Arizona but have made frequest trips back to Penna, and it never ceased to amaze me about the various community related activities that John either initiated or was a major participant. Like Alvin, I wonder how he managed to do that all within a single lifetime.

John lived in our Llyswen neighborhood and was one of the founding members of our little PAL club, and the first to pass into the next world. I was reminded by Dede that I was somewhat reponsible for his first date with Dede which turned into a lifetime of love. He will surely be missed by his family, his friends, and his classmates.

Dick Replogle



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