Dr. Hugh Mazzawi: The Pleasure of His Company
By Phylecia Wilson
To say that Hugh Mazzawi loved people is an understatement. “Five minutes after he met you, he knew everything about you,” said his son Dr. Miles Mazzawi.
When traveling with friends or family he might meet a native of the country and within five minutes would have an invitation for dinner at their home. It wasn’t that he was nosy or impertinent - Hugh Mazzawi had an insatiable appetite for knowledge and an amazing capacity to do for others.
When he lost his short battle with pancreatic cancer on January 11, those who knew him were not just deeply saddened, but shocked. How could someone so full of life, someone who cared so much for so many, someone whose smile made you know you were welcome in his life be gone?
Snellville’s first dentist, “Dr. Hugh,” as he was fondly called, met his lifelong partner in marriage and dentistry, Anne Cown Mazzawi at Emory University when both were in dental school there. One of his longest and dearest friends, Dr. Jemel David joked that he and Hugh were best friends and did everything together at Emory until Anne came along. “After that, I was on the outside looking in,” he laughed.
Dr. Hugh was from Miami and had big plans to go back after graduation and set up practice there. “He even had potential patients line up,” Anne said, laughing. “He was always a jump ahead.”
Once Anne came along those plans quickly went down the drain. Anne was raised in Grayson and south Gwinnett was an area of need for medical professionals. Developer Wayne Mason was building a new shopping center in downtown Snellville and had the perfect spot for a dental office. Though Anne was two years behind Hugh in school, together they set up the office and he began practice in 1967 soon after their marriage.
“Dr. Anne” followed as Snellville’s second dentist two years later, shortly after graduation and the birth of their first child, Michael. Five other children were to follow in pretty rapid succession: John Mark, James Matthew, Jeffrey Miles, Jeremy Marty and finally a girl, Jennifer Megan. Just as the family grew, so did the practice in space, additional dentists and patients.
Tragically, they lost Michael in an automobile accident when he was in medical school. The other five siblings, with encouragement from their parents, pursued a dental career and along with their cousin Dr. Darin Wasileski and Dr. Mile’s wife, Dr. Anthea Drew Mazzawi, practice in the same office that Hugh and Anne opened 45 years ago.
It can be said without doubt that no father was more dedicated to his family than Hugh Mazzawi. He was their mentor, their advisor and was always ready to help them make decisions and give them advice…whether they wanted it or not, as Dr. Miles fondly recalled in his father’s eulogy.
His love for Dr. Anne was apparent to all who knew the couple and he didn’t like to be away from her for very long.
“Hugh didn’t like to be alone and when I was out he would call and say, “I just wondered when you would be back,’” she reminisced. Then he would suggest that they go out for dinner or make other plans to do something together.
Husband, father, grandfather, friend, mentor, philanthropist, dentist, businessman and one of the nicest people you would ever know – Dr. Hugh had an amazing capacity to over-achieve in all his roles.
Hugh Norman Mazzawi you are missed by so many. May you rest in peace, knowing that your legacy will live on in the lives of your loving family, your friends and the hundreds of others whose lives you touched along the way.
In loving memory, Dr Hugh Mazzawi
By Dr. Miles Mazzowi
Our family would like to thank all of you who have been sending their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Although we are heart broken, and wish to have had more time with my father, your shared stories have demonstrated my father’s great character; and how he shared, touched and bettered your lives. It has helped soften and ease our pain, we are very grateful.
Our father loved with all his heart. He was one of those rare individuals who gave unconditionally. Not only to his family, friends, and patients; but acquaintances and strangers. Those of you who shared my father’s company are well aware that he was not a stranger to anyone for very long.
Dad had an insatiable curiosity about many things in life, but particularly about people. Having heard many stories about his father, Joseph Mazzawi, I believe my grandfather imparted and nurtured this curiosity. This desire to understand and connect with people was one of dad’s greatest gifts. He valued his heritage, and was curious to discover where others and their families came from. And observing his interaction with others, you appreciated his passion for people.
Dad’s passion for people allowed him to touch many lives. His sphere of influence went well beyond our household and his community. My father was not just a mentor to his children and family, but to numerous others, through the years.
In dentistry it began with his sister Joanie, who was the first person he lead into the profession. And just as we were mentored and owe our professional successes to dad and mom, there are many dentists who could say the same.
Dad’s efforts on behalf of our profession will impact generations of Georgia dentists. He dedicated countless hours of time advising his contemporaries and aspiring dentists. He would assist our classmates with identifying the best location for a new practice, educating them on the pros and cons of different locations after driving to various areas they were considering. He encouraged many to come into the dental office to observe, work, and help them determine if dentistry was the profession for them. And in turn, he wrote numerous recommendation letters and assisted many with their dental school applications. Most importantly, Dad and Mom demonstrated how you should practice dentistry, and take care of people. He always said, “take care of people and patients the way they deserve, the rest will take care of itself.”
As for Dad and Mom’s practice, they believed employees were family and that their families were just as important. Dad believed everyone’s family came first. He may have created the concept of job sharing, as our employees have always covered each other when a child is sick or they wanted to take a family trip. They did not have to ask if they could take time off, they made it happen. Often this extended family spent time vacationing with our family, staying together in the condos at Panama City Beach.
On a more personal note: I want to speak about our family’s Hugh Mazzawi, an inside look at the man we loved so dearly.
We knew dad as a confident, but humble man. He never felt he was too good to share anyone’s company, and that everyone deserved your best. He was never too flashy, not caring much for what clothes were on his back. But he always thought he looked good. That goes back to that confident thing. As Megan appreciated, he would be dressed up on his way to dinner with friends and family... he would walk past a mirror and say, “Dang, your Daddy looks good! Doesn’t he?” Of course this exasperated Megan.
He was known by many names:
Honey - which mom called him often Dad - which we children affectionately called him.
Hughbie - by his twin sisters Poppe - which his 18 grandchildren lovingly call him
Dr. Hugh - by the thousands of patients who loved him for the care he gave
Hugh manique - for his vertical leaping abilities during our basketball years (he could just touch the bottom of the net)
Hugh Agassi - for his tennis skills and numerous club championships (Again, mom “when he was seeing patients?”)
Hugh Jack - for his uncanny ability to to locate his kids wherever we were, (or weren’t supposed to be)... even in other countries. Like when Mike, Mark, and Matt went out to a bar in Germany, after dad declined to go, only to later change his mind, and somehow manage to track them down.. to one random bar of many.. and that was pre cell phones- better than Lojack, Hugh Jack!
Popperazzi - for his photo taking skills of grandchildren and his desire to share memories of his loved ones with his social media friends.
Captian Obvious - well,... for always pointing out the obvious
The “Dude” - for our family’s love, for an admittedly strange classic movie, The Big Leboweski
Dad had an infectious joy for life. His smile was a constant, and as one of his long time friends described, he was smiling like he knew something you didn’t! A little mischievous, but full of love. He, along with mom, set an amazing example of how to approach and live life.
His commitment to family was one of his greatest priorities in life. A lot of his energies and efforts revolved around getting our family together. Whether he was enticing us with good meals when we were home from college, family trips, or reunions at the beach; he was generally successful. And if you speak to any of our family members, we are all so very grateful for the memories created from these gatherings, of course with him at the center of our family circus.
His personal contributions will always be cherished. Our Dad could find a way to create an uncomfortable situation in any country.
* Like the time he drove our family through a pedestrian market in Covent Gardens England.. in a rental van, which was actually the rental company’s shuttle, because it was the only European vehicle that would accommodate our large family.
* OR the time he tried to speak three different broken languages to obtain directions! A little french mixed in with a bit of spanish, and then he used some Italian to complete his question... only to realize the stranger he asked for directions was an English speaking American... he just had to drive off! But again, Dad was unflappable and just went with it!
As a father, what can we say??? He was absolutely the greatest. He believed in what he told his children, “Can’t” is not a good word. He always told us that you can become anything you put your mind to, if you try hard enough. Although, somehow, we all ended up dentists!?! :-) He lived the family motto, that “what’s mine is yours and yours is mine, so don’t worry about small things, just love and take care of one another.” He also preached “what you give will come back ten fold”. Another tenant of his father’s. That is why we do our best to treat everyone with compassion, as our parents did, and why we can attribute our families successes to he and mom.
Dad was always present. He was there for the births of all his grandchildren. No matter where they were being born, no matter what time of day or night. Even when Jill went into labor at 2am down in St Pete, FL, he and mom made the 8 hour drive to get there in time for the birth. And then of course, he often was present when he was not invited. He managed to come along on my bachelor party... in an RV with several of my buddies driving down to New Orleans. No one had the heart to tell him he really wasn’t invited, so he just came along- only wanting to spend more time in the company of his sons.
Another benefit of my fathers devotion, as Darin remembers, was often an audience of one for his frequent lectures. When he sat you down, you knew it wasn’t going to be a short talk... you were in for the long haul. He advised us on everything under the sun, and 99% of the time, he was right. He never allowed us to get off track.
For his children, Dad was the perfect balance of love and discipline. And even when times required for him to be tough, we knew that it was grounded in his overwhelming love... for us, and his desire to help us navigate life. We will always be grateful for his compassion, understanding, respect, and wisdom. He cherished fatherhood and never missed an opportunity to participate in our lives! He rarely missed one of his children’s activities; from sports to graduations to weddings, and so much more!
As a husband, he loved my mom unconditionally. Their commitment to each other was the foundation of our family. They were married for 46 wonderful years; enjoying each others company while traveling the world, hiking in the north Georgia mountains, spending time with family, and had plans for many more... Although that was not meant to be, mom will have us, her loving family and many great memories. It feels like he was taken too soon, but we know he is in a better place with Michael, his parents, and Grandpa Hoyt.
As my brother Marty suggested, in honor of our dad, “Love your family more, bring them close, and keep them close.”
This is HIS LEGACY which we will hope to continue. We will miss you, and look forward to the time when we will all be reunited in Heaven. We love you Dad.
God Bless you.