Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Kazmar leaves sportswriting legacy

Joe Kazmar was born and raised in New York state and became a successful businessman in Orange. But though he made his mark in the car business, he will be long remembered for his sports knowledge.

Kazmar died last week at the age of 81 after an illness. He moved to Orange in the late 1960s when he took a job as a sportswriter at the Orange Leader, when the newspaper was a daily and the offices were on Front Street in downtown, across the street from the shipyards.

Like many a newspaper employee, he needed to make more money for a family and switched to the car business, starting as a salesman. He never dropped his love of writing about sports. For nearly half a century, he wrote columns for the old Opportunity Valley News weekly newspaper, and later for the County Record weekly. He had been turning in columns until the past few months.

Kazmar was born and reared in Schenectady, New York. While there, he played baseball and reached the top of youth baseball when he was 12 and his team won the Little League World Series.

After he graduated from high school, he had a baseball scholarship to McNeese in Lake Charles, Louisiana. A career in professional sports was not in his future, but his love of sports never waned. So he became a sports writer.

He moved to Orange to work for the Orange Leader sports department covering a lot of high school and youth sports. During that time, he joined the Sunset Grove Country Club and played golf regularly. He continued that membership for decades and was a regular on the golf course. He also picked up a poker game here and there.

By the mid-1970s, he had started selling cars at a local dealership. Still, he shared his vast sports knowledge through a weekly newspaper column, Kaz's Corner. The columns ended with a promotion for a car deal he could make. The little ads were a way to repay the writer for his talents.

He often had columns with 'Kaz's Fearless Pics' of his predictions of scores for upcoming games, especially college football. He would use his expertise to predict games by even small, midwestern colleges.

He helped call local football games on KOGT, the local radio station, along with KOGT legend, Richard Corder. Even after he stopped the radio broadcasting, he was a regular in the West Orange-Stark High press box during football games.

One of his most popular columns came every year at Christmas, when he made holiday greetings to half the people in town, many who called him a friend.

His car career took him to the Smith-Lee dealership on Interstate 10. As the ownership changed through the years, Kazmar stayed. By the time he retired, he was the fleet and lease manager for the company that had the GM and Toyota dealerships.

His survivors include his wife, Susan, a retired West Orange-Stark High teacher. They were married 46 years.


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