ROCKLAND — Ed Mazurek, a former longtime teacher and football coach at Rockland High and a former Democratic state lawmaker, died Wednesday. He was 79.

Mazurek, who was a professional football player for a short time early in his career, came to Rockland with his family in 1975 to take jobs as a social studies teacher and head football coach at Rockland District High School. In a 2014 interview upon his retirement from the Maine Senate, Mazurek talked about that move.

“Rockland was a real rough and tumble town,” Mazurek recalled, adding that he and his wife, MaryEllen, “didn’t have plans to stay long, but we fell in love with the town.”

Current state Sen. David Miramant, D-Camden, said Mazurek was his mentor when he was first elected to the House a decade ago.

“He was a big advocate for his community. He would speak with the power of that passion and people would fall in line,” Miramant said.

James Leonard, director of athletics for Maine Central Institute, was a player on a Mazurek-led football team.

“He brought an energy and a confidence with him that spread throughout the team,” said Leonard, a Rockland native. “Coach Maz demanded individual accountability and sacrifice for the good of the group. He molded us into a pretty good team.”

Leonard said Mazurek infused that same sort of energy into the school.

Mazurek was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and sports quickly became an important part of his life.

He played first base for his Little League team, which went on to win the world championship in 1951. He and his fellow baseball players then earned a Babe Ruth national championship three years later.

After high school, Mazurek went to Xavier University in Cincinnati and majored in business. He played football on the Xavier team and was drafted in 1960 by three professional teams. The Boston Patriots in the new upstart American Football League drafted Mazurek, as did a team from Montreal in the Canadian Football League.

Also drafting Mazurek was the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League – the team that signed him. The team relocated to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Cardinals. A defensive player, Mazurek was traded midseason to the New York Giants. He finished out the year with New York.

Mazurek said he was a bit slow and that is why he didn’t continue on in professional football.

Mazurek said he still wanted to participate in sports and went to Fairfield University in Connecticut, where he got an education degree so that he could teach and coach. His first job was at Central Catholic High School in Norwalk, Connecticut. There, he coached football, baseball, basketball and softball.

His teaching and coaching career then took him to Barrington, Rhode Island, for four years and for the next three years to Triton Regional High School in Newbury, Massachusetts.

Then came the jobs at Rockland District High School.

For the next 35 years, Mazurek taught social studies and coached football and softball.

Upon his retirement, the veteran educator said he decided to follow his other passion – politics.

“There are pretty strong parallels between politics and sports,” Mazurek said in 2014. “Both are based on competition, and the harder you work and the more you prepare, the more likely you will be successful.”

Mazurek was elected and was the top vote getter when he ran for the Rockland City Council in 2001. He served a single three-year term and was twice elected mayor – a ceremonial post in Rockland – by the other councilors. He was elected to the Maine House in 2004 to represent Rockland and part of Owls Head and re-elected by wide margins in three subsequent races. In 2012, he challenged incumbent Republican state Sen. Christopher Rector and captured the Knox County seat.

Mazurek said in the 2014 interview that one can do a lot of good things to help people in politics.

He said his proudest accomplishment in the Legislature was to increase awareness of the need to invest in transportation. He served as chairman of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee.

Mazurek did not seek re-election in 2014 due to health reasons.

Mazurek recently was selected for induction into the Midcoast Sports Hall of Fame, with that ceremony scheduled for Oct. 21 at the Elks Club in Rockland.

His son Richard also had been inducted into that organization in recent years.

Friends and relatives are invited to visit from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home, 110 Limerock St., Rockland. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church, 150 Broadway, Rockland. Interment will follow at Coughlin Memorial Cemetery.