John Eugene Mutzeck died at home on January 14, 2022. He was born on July 29, 1933 in Munich, Germany, the only child of Matthias and Anna Mutzeck. The promise of his happy childhood continuing was interrupted by the rise of the Nazi reign of horror. By the age of 11, he lost both of his parents and home and became an orphan fending for himself through the towns and streets of Europe. From the trauma and loss he experienced as a young boy somehow emerged a resilience and will to make it.
Through the post war recovery efforts and UNRRA (The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) he was offered passage to America, a magical destination to his young imagination. On April 1, 1947 at age 13 he arrived at Ellis Island. We always observed April Fools Day to commemorate his new life in America. He was placed in an orphanage in Lodi, New Jersey. The Putnam family from Springfield, Massachusetts chose him to come live with them. After a year of living with this loving and generous family, he felt the need to be on his own.
He set out and after numerous side trips eventually graduated from High School in Johnson City, New York. He spent a few years working resorts in the Poconos and Florida. He earned his BA and advanced coursework at Penn State and began his teaching career at State College High in 1963 as a teacher of German and the Humanities. His teaching went beyond the classroom. He was the coach of the high school golf team, ran the intramural ski program and worked passionately as director of the German student exchange program with the Helene-Lange Schule in Hannover, Germany. He retired from teaching in 1998. The many students and athletes who maintained contact with him through the years lend testimony to his impact on their lives.
He was equally at home in the backcountry of Yellowstone as in the Goethe House in New York City. In 1998 the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York recognized him for fostering German American friendship through the student exchange program.
On May 12, 1977 he married Patricia (née O'Brien) who survives at home. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his daughter Kristina Helmerich, son-in-law Stephen Helmerich, grandsons Karl Helmerich and Anton Helmerich, step-daughter Alison Ayers, and his former wife Evelyn (née Tomasko).
An exceptional yet modest man, he was the best at sharing joy or helping to weather a storm. A celebration of his life will occur in the future pending COVID circumstances. In keeping with his wishes, services will be private. The family is grateful for the compassionate care he received from his doctors at Mount Nittany Health and Penn State Hershey and from UPMC Home Nursing Care and Hospice Care.
Memorial contributions may be made to Out of the Cold, PO Box 784 State College PA 16804.
Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home. Online condolences and may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com