Alfred Mason (Baltimore Sun )
Alfred P. Mason, a retired Baltimore businessman and a co-founder of the Epicurean Club, which recognized local sports figures, died Saturday of complications from Alzheimer's disease at Copper Ridge assisted-living facility in Sykesville.
A resident of the Charlesbrooke neighborhood of Baltimore County, Mr. Mason was 84.
"I've known Al since we were playing ball as kids at School 236 at Christopher Avenue and Harford Road. It was six guys and no hitting to the right field. If you did, it was an out," said Vince Bagli, retired WBAL-TV sports anchor and boyhood friend.
"He was a Hamiltonian, and I always thought of him as the unofficial mayor of Hamilton," recalled Mr. Bagli.
Alfred Preston Mason, the only son of a banker and a homemaker, was born in Baltimore and raised on Bayonne Avenue in Hamilton.
After graduating from Polytechnic Institute in 1946, Mr. Mason enlisted in the Army and served for 18 months as a member of the occupying forces in Japan. While in the service, he also was a center and star shooter on a basketball team.
After being discharged from the Army, he entered what is now Loyola University Maryland to study chemistry.
In the early 1950s, he went to work as a chemist at General Refractory and later joined Barr Stalford, an aerosol filling company in Arbutus.
Mr. Mason and his co-worker, Alan Case, left Barr Stalford in 1974 when they established Case Mason Filling Inc., which grew to two plants, one in Rosedale and the other in Joppa.
Mr. Mason, who was president of the company, stepped down in 2009 from the business, which is still family-owned.
He married Janice Barmettler in 1957 and they settled into a rowhouse on Old Trail Road in Rodgers Forge, where they raised their family.
He was a Little League coach and also coached basketball. For years, he played summer volleyball at the Padonia Swim Club and lacrosse for the Maryland Lacrosse Club.
Mr. Mason was an Orioles, Baltimore Colts and University of Maryland basketball fan.
He helped co-found the Epicurean Club in 1957. The club, a local organization, held an annual banquet and roast that honored such local sports heroes as Brooks Robinson, Johnny Unitas, Carol Mann and Boog Powell.
Many of those honored later became permanent members of the club, which recognized figures from the worlds of baseball, golf, basketball and football.
"Al was a very well-organized guy, if there ever was one," said Mr. Bagli.
Owen Blum, who lives in Shrewsbury, Pa., was a friend for 70 years.
"We were teenagers when we met some 70 years ago, and we remained close to one another. We even traveled the world together," said Mr. Blum. "I admired him because of his athletic abilities and his relationships with people. He was just one good person."
Mr. Mason enjoyed organizing luncheons for local veterans, who met on the first Thursday of each month at the Parkville American Legion Hall.
He also organized another group of Hamiltonians who met to talk over the old days in the neighborhood.
Billy Kirlin, another boyhood friend, said the organization's informal name was "The Shackets."
"When we were kids we used to gather at Harford Road and Hamilton Avenue across the street from the Avon Theater," he said. "There was a shack there where we used to buy candy before going into the movies. When we started a baseball team, we searching around for a name and decided to call ourselves the Shackets.
"There were two things Al loved. He loved his family, and he was very loyal to his friends. When they had problems, he took care of them," said Mr. Kirlin. "Even when he didn't have money way back, he'd still help out someone who may have been having financial problems. Obviously, when he was successful later in life, it was a little easier to do that."
Mr. Mason's capacity for friendship and generosity was matched only by his sense of humor, friends said.
"He had a wonderfully wry sense of humor," said Mr. Bagli. "He'd tease you until you said something silly, and then he'd say, 'I gotcha.' He was never vicious."
An avid golfer, Mr. Mason was a member for more than 35 years of the Country Club of Maryland, where he regularly golfed with a Friday foursome, endowed the Mason Cup and celebrated getting a hole-in-one.
He was a drummer and a big-band aficionado. His favorite big-band leaders, family members said, were Guy Lombardo and Russ Morgan.
For more than 40 years, Mr. Mason celebrated his November birthday and the birthday of two close friends and their wives with trips to Bermuda, cruises and visits to the Tides Inn in Irvington, Va.
Mr. Mason was also a model railroad fan and enjoyed setting up HO-gauge layouts and Christmas gardens.
Mr. Mason was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, but because of construction there, his funeral will be held at noon Wednesday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 Allegheny Ave., Towson.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Mason is survived by a son, Warner Mason of Baltimore; two daughters, Susan Miller of Towson and Janice Gross of New Freedom, Pa.; and seven grandchildren.