Mozart Pursues Happiness In Adopted Country



A Catholic relief organization sponsored Victor Mozart's immigration to the United States from Germany in 1946.

He was just 21 years old.


Victor Mozart

"They sponsored me to come over as a lumberjack," Mozart said.

Mozart and his wife Lucia stepped off the plane in New York City, then boarded a train for the three-day ride to the West Coast.

"My God, I thought when we arrived in Los Angeles, there's all these big buildings and no trees," he said.

He found work at first as an electrician and began a new life in his adopted country.

He already spoke a "little bit" of English, thanks to the year he spent attached to the U.S. 7th Army's 4th Battalion at the end of World War II.

Mozart and his fellow soldiers were tasked by the U.S. to guard the equipment American troops had left at Ramstein Air Force Base, seven miles from his boyhood home.

Ramstein was a small village then. It is located on the banks of the Rhine River as it flows through Germany.

Mozart grew up in Steinstrausser House #3 with his parents, sister and three brothers.

They played with neighborhood children who spoke the language of their parents. It was natural that Mozart learned to speak Russian, Polish and several Slavic languages.

Then Hitler came into power.


Vic Mozart with his buddies Klaus and Steiner when they were attached to the U.S. 7th Army's 4th Battalion in 1945.

"I was born at the wrong time. When the war started, there was no way to get out of Germany," Mozart said.

His eyes tear up and his voice breaks when he tries to talk about being conscripted by the German Army and sent to the Russian front.

"After the war, there was nothing anyone could live on, no stores, no markets and barely any groceries available," he said.

War-torn Germany could not offer Victor the life he wanted to share with Lucia. They left Germany, never to return.

In America, the couple raised a daughter and a son.

He worked for Lockheed Martin, inspecting missile installations.

When the Cold War ended, Mozart opened a sheet metal shop and later, a mechanical contracting company in Phoenix.

He campaigned when Barry Goldwater ran for President in 1964.

In 1975, he joined the Elks and counts his three decades of service as time well spent.

The event he looks forward to most is when the Elks take children shopping for clothes at Christmas.

"We get them new outfits, head to toe," Mozart said.


Vic Mozart, at left, attended with the 12th Governor of Arizona, Samuel Goddard, Mrs. Kron and Senator Barry Goldwater at a fund-raiser for Goldwater's 1964 Presidential campaign.

He is currently serving his second term as Exalted Ruler of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks at the Payson Lodge.

"When you have a willingness and a devotion to do something in the Elks, you have to prepare yourself, you become obligated, then you get hooked," he added.


Name: Victor Mozart

Age: 83 in March

Occupation: Retired entrepreneur

When did you move to Payson? I moved to Payson in 1968 or '69 when everything was forest. There was one grocery store. There was one stop light at Main Street and you drove down McLane to get back to the highway to drive to Pine and Strawberry. Homer Haught was the sheriff.

Best piece of advice you have ever received? I would stop in at El Rancho Restaurant for a meal or a drink and the owner, Tony Ortega, encouraged me to join the Elks Lodge.

Three things you want people to know about you: I am proud to be a United States citizen, I believe in God and I believe in helping where I am needed.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I dreamed of becoming a pilot. "The closest I got was paratrooper training -- they hoist you up, you fly, then someone pushed you out of the plane."

Favorites --

Music: Symphonies, opera and country and western.

Food: Barbequed steaks.

Sport: "Golf, but my back and my knees aren't helping me much these days."

Vacation spot: Las Vegas

Movies: Westerns

Commenting has been disabled for this item.