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Charles P. "Chuck" Mason

Charles P. Chuck Mason

Retired music educator Charles P. Chuck Mason, 83, of Ashland, Ore., died December 10, 2011. He suffered a stroke during a Caribbean cruise and died at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Fla. He was born January 4, 1928, in Shelton, Wash., to David and Hazel Mason.

Chuck devoted his life to sharing music with others. He directed high school bands in Idaho, Alaska, Washington and Oregon. He retired in 1982 after many years as band director at Hoquiam (Wash.) High School. After studying band instrument repair at Western Iowa Technical School, the family relocated to Southern Oregon, where Chuck was a musical instrument repairman. He directed the Westminster Presbyterian Church Choir for 12 years. He was co-director of the Southern Oregon Symphonic Band in 1988 and directed the Ashland Shrine Band in 1994. He played bass clarinet in the Rogue Valley Symphony, the Symphonic Band and the Ashland City Band.

He and his wife Maryann sang in the Westminster Presbyterian Choir, and Chuck played piano for the church's monthly men's luncheons. Shortly before leaving for the cruise, he recorded favorite piano numbers on a compact disc titled Music is a fair and glorious gift of God.

It was a display of musical instruments that caught Chuck's eye as an eighth grader at Centralia and started a musical career. His 1941 Sears and Roebuck alto saxophone was paid for by delivering three paper routes. By his senior year, Chuck was the band's student director, and he sang in choir and a madrigal group, played in the orchestra and did jobs with a dance band. He went to Army Band School, then played with a U.S. Air Force Band in Adak, Alaska before going to Central Washington State University where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1951 and a master of education degree in 1955.

One of the first teaching assignments became the most significant, band director for Mount Edgecumbe School on an island near Juneau, Alaska. It was a boarding school for 600 Eskimos, Aleuts and Native Americans from communities across the territory. The first day on the job, Chuck discovered that, in addition to teaching instrumental music, he had 16 young women signed up for a class in baton twirling. When Edgecumbe students went to state music contests in Juneau, the journey was by ship, and once, 100 of the young musicians flew to Ketchikan by seaplane. At Hoquiam High School, Chuck's final full-time teaching job before retirement, the marching band earned repeated honors at the Washington State Music Educator's annual competition at the old Kingdome. Their skills earned an invitation to the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival parade and a weeklong educational experience.

Chuck is survived by his wife, Maryann, of Ashland, Ore.; daughters, Aletha (Ron) Knopp, of Portland, Ore., Tamara Mason, of Seattle, Wash., and Marla Mason and her partner Patty Cox, of Seattle, Wash.; sons, Wayne Mason, of Seattle, Wash., and Will Mason, of San Antonio, Texas; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian, 2000 Oakwood, Medford, at 2:00 p.m., Sunday, December 18, 2011. The family asks that memorial gifts in Chuck's name be sent to the Choir Fund at Westminster, or to the Hoquiam High School Band Fund, 305 Simpson Avenue, Hoquiam, WA 98550.