2017-06-02 / Letters

Thank You, Mr. Martin Penzer

Dear Editor:

For over 50 years I have always remembered a very sad time in my life when there was that one person who became such an inspiration and a presence in my life that I have always wanted to contact him and thank him. I wonder if this might be my only avenue as I am not sure at all how to write to him and acknowledge him for the true kind, caring and brilliant music teacher and human being that he is. I am talking about Mr. Martin Penzer of P.S. 183.

In 1967, 1968, and part of 1969, Mr. Penzer was my clarinet teacher. I have never today seen or heard of a man that was so dedicated to his work. For me he went above and beyond what anyone has ever done for me to this day. I am now 59 years old and I can honestly say that for years I have been telling all I can about the remarkable experience and great concern he had for me where nobody could have been expected to extend themselves so far.

In April of 1969, my father, at the age of 41 unexpectedly passed away, leaving his wife and six children behind. My dad simply adored that I played the clarinet and he of course was very proud that I was pretty darn good at it. I loved it. While other kids were out at the handball courts or up on 98th street at Martin’s Corner, I was very content to stay home and play my clarinet.

My story is bittersweet because as much as I loved playing the clarinet and playing solo with the piano teacher at our assemblies at P.S. 183 my parents decided that I should be transferred to Catholic school where my siblings were while there was an opening. Well what happened next, to me, is absolutely unforgettable. Mr. Penzer met with my parents after I and a Miss Nora Ashley, were sent somewhere to try out for a more thorough music education and scholarship This wonderful, endearing, brilliant man went to Principal Max Arnold, at the time and tried to set up a half day music lesson at the public school for me in the same way we young Catholic kids went each Wednesday for a half day at St. Rose Of Lima for Religious instruction. That was not approved and so as the years passed my musical abilities went with them.

I realize today that all of this was not about the music really. It was more about how one person like Mr. Penzer could touch my life forever. He instilled a gift that not all of us receive. He gave me the gift of believing! Of believing in MYSELF!! I would just like to say that because of this dynamic presence in my life I have had and still do have a wonderful fulfilling life with family, friends, and possibilities. What more can a person ask for??? Thank you, Mr. Martin Penzer from the bottom of my heart.

HELEN VOLOVAR HAGGAG

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