Ernie Venton Mason was a man with many roles during his 85 years of life.
As a professional, Ernie’s employment included various aerospace companies and thirty-two years with General Dynamics. G.D. is where he designed, supervised, and implemented many of the missiles used by the United States Military. As an employee Ernie was a great asset, in fact when his obituary was published a neighbor of his daughter, Sharen, came over impressed that her dad was THAT ERNIE MASON FROM G.D.
Although small in stature at 5’7”, his dark good looks and quiet personality gave him the title as a Don Juan early in life, known as a ladies man even in high school, he asked his English teacher to the prom and she accepted, we hear she may not have been asked back to teach the following year. That role quickly changed when he met Shirley Lee Jenkins, a petite blond with striking blue eyes, at North American were they both worked. He was smitten, they dated and soon were engaged. When Ernie was transferred to Washington D.C. he diligently saved his pennies until one day he called Shirley and told her to get on a plane. They were married that afternoon, February 21, 1953. Together they have remained a great example to their family of what a marriage is all about, as their love and dedication to one another only grew stronger through their 59 years together.
Ernie was the strong disciplinarian of the family and not the demonstrative type, but even if he did not show it with physical or verbal affection his daughters knew he loved them. His rhythmic and slow, Pat…… Pat……. Pat….., on your back when comfort was needed, is the one thing I will miss most about him. As he walked each of his daughters down the wedding aisle, he whispered in their ear, “Are you sure you want to go through with this, we could still back out?” And just steps from the alter he reminded me that airline pilots have the highest divorce rate in the United States and that it was not too late. “I love you” is something we did not hear growing up, but as he aged he softened and an “I love you daddy” would be returned with an “I love you more”, which became his trademark phrase.
The Masonic Lodge became another haven for Ernie (again remember ALL GIRLS, only child syndrome). He was fifty year member of the Masonic Lodge, Cammandrey and Royal Arch. Ernie treasured his time there so much that the first things on his list of, who gets what, were items he had earned through the Masonic Lodge, left to each of his daughters.
Those that knew Ernie well knew that his sense of humor was dry as dry can be. His favorite repeated sayings where things like “Your troubles have touched my heart, never before have I heard such a story…”said in a sarcastic voice of course” and when Shirley joined a knitting club, he quickly named the group “the Knitwits.” He also used to tease Shirley that she had bird legs, so one night before bed he snuck into the bathroom and tied her pajama legs into knots, explaining later that she should have no trouble getting her legs through them. To retaliate, Shirley, knowing that Ernie always waited to the last minute to use the restroom, sewed his fly shut. Ernie always said that he never would forget the look on the janitors face when he realized the predicament Ernie was in.
Methodical was a definite trait of Ernie’s. Every morning would find him at the kitchen table with his little black book, not the kind with girls names in it, but the kind that included lists upon lists of what he needed to do that day, the next, even next month. Throughout his life he kept just about everything, his daughters lost teeth, and report cards were filed chronologically. As his son-in-law Phil states shopping with him was an adventure, Rome could be built in the time it took Ernie to scrutinize each aisle. A trait his daughter, Debra, also has. Before his death he organized everything that would be needed. A master list with each item in a separate envelope.…….He even wrote his own obituary months in advance and included that he would like Mr. Lockhart to officiate.
Two recent great grandchildren were added to his dynasty and we know their genetic imprint has already been affected by their great grandpa: Grey and Aubrey we have a lot to share with you.
For the last couple of years Ernie fought hard to stay here, wanting to make sure that his wife and family would be o.k. When he thought he was causing them more harm than good, he decided it was time to leave. A proud and private man he went the way he wanted too with dignity and grace. On February 20, 2012 as his family stood by his bed, Ernie said goodbye to this world and hello to his daughter Denise, who welcomed him to heaven.
Throughout his many roles of Son, Boy Scout, soldier, student, employee, Mason, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, and friend Ernie Venton Mason never wavered from the motto of his youth. His priorities remained God, Country, Family and Self. Through these roles he touched each of us in some important way. I ask that you think of what touch he bestowed upon you, and that you share it with another, whether through memory, act, or association. In this way his spirit will live on through each of us.
“Goodbye Daddy, We love you………….. mostess.”
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- Karen Rothfus
- Alta Loma, California, United States
- I am a wife of 28 years to Kevin, a pilot, a mother of 22 year old Kellan and 15 year old Keaton. I am caretaker to a zoo of animals including dogs, cats, chickens, fish, birds, turtles, etc. I am a gardener, a cook, a writer, a painter, a teacher, and I am truly blessed to be able to live life the way I wish too.