Mark Blazis, an authority on fishing, bird watching, bear tracking and everything outdoors, died Wednesday.
His column Outdoors in the Telegram & Gazette has been a favorite of nature lovers for over a decade. He spent time as a science teacher in Auburn.
In his most recent column, published Monday, he wrote about his cousin Nicholas Blazis, a commercial fisherman who was caught in a hurricane off Cape Cod.
“Most of us do not even appreciate them for a moment when we enjoy our haddock or cod fillets,” he wrote of those who call the ocean their workplace.
Blazis, 74, traveled the world as a sportsman and physicist. He was a well-known bird researcher, registering more than 6,000 species.
“The world lost a great man,” said Telegram & Gazette executive editor Dave Nordman. “Mark loved his family, abroad and Worcester. He was a teacher, mentor and friend to everyone he met – a legendary writer, but so much more.
“You learned something every time you read Mark’s column,” Nordman added. “And he did not miss one for more than 10 years. Even when he traveled to the Galapagos Islands or Antarctica for two or three weeks, he would submit 10 columns before he left.”
Blazis led expeditions through his company, Mark Blazis Safaris, and often brought medical teams into the rainforests along the Napo River in Ecuador.
He wrote several field guides on the fauna and flora of Massachusetts.
He was a science teacher in Auburn, once recognized as Nature Teacher of the Year by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute. He grew up in Worcester, went to the former Classical High School.
He started writing the Outdoors column for the Telegram & Gazette after the death of Joe Michniewicz in 2005.
Blazis, who left behind his wife, Helen, and two children, lived in Grafton.
His older brother, Bruce F. Blazis, 85, died Nov. 4.
Deb Cary, the municipal advocacy and outreach manager for the central region of Mass Audubon, first met Blazis in 1985, when he was organizing field trips for Auburn Middle School and would later help Mass Audubon organize her own travels.
“He has always been interested in what we have done at Mass. Aubudon in Worcester and especially in Central Mass.,” Said Cary. “He had a state-wide perspective, in fact a global perspective on so many conservation issues. He was always fun and knowledgeable to talk to. He would regularly report in his columns on projects and programs we do just like a true friend for conservation, birdwatchers “For children, any body that cares about nature.”
Cary said he was a regular for Mass Audubon bird bands.
“There’s probably nothing more exciting than holding a bird in your hand,” Cary said. “You get such an up-close experience and I think that’s something that Mark has done with hundreds and hundreds of people.”
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