Robert H Mason, age 83, passed away peacefully to meet his Lord on March 1, 2018 with his daughter Dawn and son-in-law by his side. Robert, or Bob as he was known to many by, is survived by the love of his life Joyce M Mason. They were married in 1955 and had 62 wonderful years together. Also surviving are his son Thomas Mason and wife Kandy, daughter Dawn McCuan and husband Dr. Ron McCuan, and grandsons Daniel Heze McCuan and David Robert McCuan all residing in the surrounding area. Robert was one of 6 children born to Charles and Ruth Mason of Ecorse, MI. Surviving brothers include Charles Mason of Belleville, MI. and Richard Mason of Ida, MI. His surviving sisters include Bess Kurtz and husband John Kurtz of Trout Lake, MI., Joyce Galliher and husband Robert Galliher of Flat Rock, MI., and Nancy Swearingen and husband Thomas Swearingen of Trenton, MI. Also surviving are 16 loving nieces and nephews, 25 great nieces and nephews, and12 great-great nieces and nephews. Family members that have gone on before him include Charles and Ruth Mason (father and mother), daughter Karen Ann Mason, and two sisters-in-law, Madelyn Mason (wife of Charles) and Karen Mason (wife of Richard).
Robert was the first in the family to attend college – graduating from Michigan State University in 1957 with a degree in Forestry. After graduation he was employed by the US Forest Service and headed out West with wife & daughter to work on the Siskiyou National Forest where they lived on the beautiful Pacific Ocean in Gold Beach, OR. They would often stroll the beaches to look for unique drift wood or blown glass floats that came from commercial fishing boat nets. Gold Beach is where daughter Karen Ann was born in 1958.
Robert’s next assignment, although very brief, was working on the Chequamegon National Forest in Glidden, WI. He was then relocated to Bemidji, MN on the Chippewa National Forest where Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox are legend. Bob lived about an hour from the start of the Mighty Mississippi River where the family could walk across stepping stones to the other side. Son Thomas was born in Bemidji in 1963.
Robert left the frigid northern MN with its huge snowdrifts for the hot humid climate in Southern Illinois to work on the Shawnee National Forest. He first worked out of the Ranger’s office in Elizabethtown, IL, then moved to the Supervisor’s office in Harrisburg. He left the Shawnee for 2 years to work on the Mark Twain National Forest living in Springfield, MO where the Masons visited Branson many times while it was still a small town. After two years, he returned to Harrisburg and the Shawnee working in Land Management. He was the very first recipient of the “Golden Pick Award” for his outstanding work promoting federal objectives of the U.S. Minerals and Geology Program.
As a forester he worked on many forest fires, both on fire lines and later coordinating fire camps and getting teams together to deploy to fires. Bob received many awards and honors over 38 years and met some very interesting people along the way. He retired in 1995 and enjoyed being a “Proud Grandpa”. He loved sharing his wisdom and skills with his grandsons, and always had a story to share.
As dedicated as Bob was to his profession, he was first a family-oriented man who loved and cherished his wife, Joyce – the woman who stood by his side raising 3 children & supporting his career. Together they enjoyed entertaining, dancing, bowling, and gardening. He loved listening to and singing with his son Tom. He was so proud of audio tapes Tom made singing and loved sharing those with family and friends. He shared a deep love of reading with his daughter Karen Ann which led to many topics of discussion. With his daughter Dawn, he shared an adventurous spirit which included deep sea fishing in Aruba and even a hot air balloon ride at age 78. Gardening was a passionate hobby of his, and he loved sharing all the fruit, vegetables, and gourds that he grew. He was especially known for growing delicious tomatoes and blueberries. Area school children often enjoyed painting mini pumpkins and gourds with Bob. In addition to school crafts, his family and friends delighted in making birdhouses from bigger gourds.
Bob also loved fishing and hunting. He shared secret fishing techniques with children who knew him as “Uncle Bob”. When necessary, Bob didn’t mind sitting patiently for hours with kids while pondering life’s lessons with anyone else who joined him. He impacted many lives while sharing his love of fishing and hunting. In addition, Robert was an active supporter of the National Rifle Association, and the Second Amendment contained in the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution allowing citizens to keep and bear arms. He was an expert marksman and stickler for gun safety. Of course, he not only supported concealed carry, but practiced it religiously.
In all his travels, both work related and for pleasure, the place that held his heart from the time he was a young boy was the beloved little family cabin at Camp Echo on Pike Lake in the UP of MI. His children and later his grandsons learned the peaceful wonders of this pristine wilderness located a short distance between Lake Superior on the north and Lake Michigan on the south that remains unchanged since the 1940’s. “Grandma’s Cabin” as it is known to many will not be the same without him. He was a great and humble man who will be dearly missed.
Bob passed away while his wife, Joyce, was undergoing surgery in Herrin. As Joyce is still recovering, funeral plans have been delayed in order that she can say goodbye to her beloved husband. Robert will be cremated, and a memorial service will be held both locally and in Michigan. Details will be forthcoming.
The family would like to extend their deepest thanks for the overwhelming love and care provided to “Little Bob” as he was lovingly called by the entire team of nurses and workers at Reflections of the Villas of Hollybrook in Harrisburg. He was a part of their family for a short time and he enjoyed his time there. Your kindness and thoughtfulness towards him will always be remembered.
Hospice of Southern IL was also with Robert and his family, and their knowledge, care and support have also been greatly appreciated. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice of Southern Illinois in Robert Mason’s honor.