Obituary: Peter William Mason — devoted father, U.S. Marine veteran, Silver and Bronze Star, and Purple Heart recipient
Peter William Mason died peacefully on June 18, 2017, in Manchester Vermont, with his loyal black Labrador and wife at his side. Peter was a devoted father and grandfather (Grandpere) of ten. Peter was a 37 year resident of Ridgefield, Connecticut and then Rowayton, Connecticut before retiring to Weston, Vermont in 2004.
Peter was born in Hamilton, Ohio. His parents were William Mason, and Elizabeth Hall Mason, both of whom loved to fish which influenced Peter’s passion for fly fishing. Peter was five when his family moved to Shaker Heights, Ohio, where Peter often played catch after school with his next-door-neighbor, Bob Feller, the future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher. In 1938, the Masons moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts during great hurricane of 1938. From that experience, Peter gained an avid interest in weather that lasted a lifetime. Peter attended Classical High School in Springfield Mass where he played football. He also ran track because his football coach wanted him to stay in shape. Though football was his sport, he won the Massachusetts High School State Championship in both the 100 and 200 yard sprints. During World War II, he was a volunteer firefighter, an air warden, and annually raised an enormous victory garden. He spent his senior year at the Lenox Episcopal School for Boys in Lenox, Massachusetts which he despised. (Later, when asked if he would rather go back to prep school or Marine Corps Boot Camp, he emphatically chose Parris Island Boot Camp!).
In the fall of 1948, Peter attended Ohio Wesleyan University as journalism major. There, he enrolled in the United States Marine Corps Platoon Leaders Course, completing Officer Candidate School during the summers following his freshman and sophomore years. He was called to active duty (ironically during an American History class) in January 1950, and landed in the Republic of South Korea five days later. After some fierce fighting (he was in the second wave of the invasion of Seoul), he was ordered back to the US to attend aviator training at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. He returned to Korea as a close air support officer in the 2nd Marine Air Craft Wing As a forward air controller, during the infamous “war on the hills”, Peter, along with his radioman L.Cpl. Gino Fusillo, and their rifleman Sgt. George Washington Nero, would be dropped behind enemy lines, call in airstrikes on the target. (It was during this period that Peter developed his enthusiasm for Peter Paul Mounds candy bars, because he could keep them in his fatigue pants pockets where they would just squish when he hit the ground for cover, instead of bruising his legs.). As the war settled into a long, bloody stalemate, Peter earned three Purple Heart Medals and two Bronze Stars. When he bravely had to call an airstrike on his own position because his unit was being overrun, Peter earned a Silver Star for valor in combat. Peter was honored to have the medal pinned on his fatigues by the legendary Marine Corps General Chesty Puller. Among Peter’s Marine memories… In February 1953 he was at K-13 airbase in Suwon when Marine Pilot Ted Williams landed his flaming Panther aircraft to the great relief of Peter and his fellow Red Sox fans everywhere. Peter also recalled when he was on leave, he met President Harry Truman who was out walking one morning near the Whitehouse (The President often snuck away from his Secret Service for a walk.). The President asked Peter and his friend who were both in uniform to escort him to a nearby doughnut shop, where Peter purchased a chocolate donut for President who forgot he didn’t carry a wallet on his walks.
After his Marine Corps service, Peter met and married Faith Mason, they moved their young family to Marblehead Massachusetts. While there, Peter began his career in publishing, working for McCall’s magazine in Boston as New England Sales Manager. In 1966, Peter and Faith moved their family to Somers, NY and eventually Ridgefield, Connecticut where they raised their four children. At McCall’s New York headquarters, Peter shared an office with the magazine’s fiction editor, Joseph Heller, who frequently asked Peter to edit the magazine’s monthly short story, because Joseph was totally absorbed working on his novel (Catch 22).
In a 1968 Peter began working for Meredith Publishing on Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, as New England Sales Manager, managing diverse advertising categories from tourism to china and silver to home building and even ladies lingerie. In 1985, Peter was named Director of the Meredith Travel Marketing Group he grew sales from $800 thousand to $21.7 million. During that period, Peter served as president of the Travel Industry of America, whose Board awarded him their highest achievement award. As a travel expert, Peter was regularly quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many travel industry publications. Peter also frequently appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, the CNN Morning Show, and the American Public Media radio program Marketplace. Peter was a keynote speaker at 48 major travel industry events. Peter retired from Better Homes in 2004 after a 50 year career in publishing.
Peter later married, Marguerite Kennedy in 1991 and soon after retired to Vermont. Peter was a member of the Wantastiquet Trout Club in Weston, VT and always carried a collapsible fishing rod on his business trips- just in case! Peter wore red socks every day in retirement in allegiance to his baseball team. He also was also an ardent fan of the New England Patriots, as a season ticket holder when they were the “Boston Patriots “ in their first season in the American Football League
Peter was an avid book reader and traveler with limitless intellectual curiosity and spirit of adventure. He and his wife traveled to England and France annually. It was his France trips that earned him the name Grandpere to his 10 grandchildren. Their trips included visits to WWI and WWII military cemeteries and memorials, including on multiple visits to the Invasion Beaches in Normandy, Point du Hoc, and the Normandy American Cemetery
In addition to his wife Marguerite, Peter is survived by survived by his four children: Steven William Mason, his fiancé Courtney Grier and Peter’s newest grandchild Cooper William (born on March 20, 2017), Steven’s daughters Elizabeth and Lauren and their mother Paula Mason, all of Darien Connecticut, his second son Scott Frederick Mason, Scott’s wife Jennifer Mason, and their three daughters, Heather, Tori, and Lindsay and their son David, of Ridgefield Connecticut, Peter’s daughter Heidi Mason Black , her husband Peter Black,, and their three sons Hunter, Craig, and Charlie Black of Park City Utah and his youngest son Craig Hall Mason of Chelsea, MA.
Peter’s funeral will be a Eucharistic Service at Zion Episcopal Church at 11:00am on July 8, 2017. A celebration of Peter’s life will follow in the church hall.
Peter asked that any contributions in appreciation of his service to our county be made to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, whose mission is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other need-based assistance to active-duty and retired Sailors and Marines , their eligible family members, and survivors. (www.nmcrs.org.).