Mary Hope Mason
Mary Hope Mason died on Sept. 25, 2020, at the age of 97.
Born on Jan. 22, 1923, Mary was the fourth child of Dr. Howard and Jean Mason of Manhattan and Keene Valley. By 1930, at the age of 7, her parents purchased their camp in Keene Valley. From then on, her heart was always with Keene and Keene Valley, the community and her beloved Adirondacks.
The Depression had an impact on her family, but she was fortunate to graduate from the Brearley School in New York City and then Smith College and Columbia University in 1946, ultimately becoming a registered nurse. She did her part to support the war by working in a factory, filing burrs off gears for tanks. Following the war, she worked as a nurse in hospitals and factories.
At 27 years old she married Fred Mason. Like her sisters Barbara and Jeannie, she was married in the Keene Valley Congregational Church by Rev. Paul Wolf, followed by a reception at the Tamarack Inn on Airport Road. Mary and Fred had two sons, Dan and Dave, and moved from Brooklyn to their new home on Long Island, always managing to stay in Keene Valley for most of the summer. Summers in Keene Valley were idyllic, where the family spent time with Mary Hope’s parents, sisters, spouses and children, followed in later years by the grandchildren.
In 1964, the family moved to central New Jersey, which enabled more time with Fred’s family in southern New Jersey. Mary went back to work as a substitute school nurse and teacher. She also joined the board and eventually was chair of Parker Home, a progressive nursing home now operating multiple sites in New Jersey. In 1971, Fred’s work took Mary and Fred to Boston for a brief time. They moved back to suburban NYC in 1973, this time to Hastings-on-Hudson, which they loved. In 1978, Dave bought 2 acres on Gristmill and began slowly building a house, a long project that Mary and Fred took pleasure in. Fred retired in 1985, and they moved to Orlando, Florida, still returning annually to Keene Valley. Fred predeceased Mary in 1994.
In 2002, after careful consideration, she decided to leave Florida, moving to Medford Leas, a continuing care community in Medford, New Jersey, where she made many very close friends.
Throughout her life, while moving fairly frequently and making friends easily, she spent nearly every single summer in Keene Valley, finding roots and deep friendships. In Keene Valley she volunteered for years at the Keene Valley Library archives, working with Peggy O’Brien and Dorothy Irving. She helped with the library book sale, first volunteering and then running it for several years, and took pleasure in designing bulletin boards for the archive photo display. She also participated in and “did the heavy lifting” for the annual Church Bazaar for several years. She is perhaps most remembered by her family and friends for her many casual summer cocktail parties. She loved a good conversation with most anyone about most anything.
After 97 years, her passing is certainly sad, but it is also a celebration! A celebration of an incredible woman, an incredible life. The family looks forward to celebrating her when the COVID vaccine becomes widely available. A family graveside service is planned.
She is survived by her sons Dan and Dave, and also Dan’s wife Debby Rice and grandchildren Hilary and Elyssa and Graham, and Dave’s husband Jim Herman and grandson Tim. She had two great-grandchildren, Luca Herman and Calvin Mason. She had 11 nieces and nephews in Keene, Jay, Phoenix, Arizona, Maryland, South Carolina, California and southern New Jersey, along with their spouses and numerous grandnieces and grand nephews and extended family.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you send donations to the Keene Valley Congregational Church and Keene Valley Library.