Barbara Paine Mason

Mason—Barbara Paine Mason, 92, on March 26, 2016, in Abington, Pa., following a series of strokes. Barbara was born on August 26, 1923, in Buffalo, N.Y., to Louise Morse Hill and Walter Thomas Paine. She grew up in Westfield, N.J., and Brooklyn, N.Y., spending many happy hours in Bath, Maine, and Phippsburg, Maine, with her extended family, a life that was interrupted by her father’s sudden death of a heart attack at 43 when she was 15. Her family lived for a time with her grandparents in Bath and then in Brunswick, Maine, where she finished high school. She met Bert Mason, a student at Bowdoin College, and won a scholarship to Radcliffe for her first year. She loved Radcliffe and especially enjoyed the science labs and the glee club, but World War II disrupted her plans for college. Bert was a conscientious objector and served in New Hampshire and in Middletown, Conn. When he became ill with pneumonia, they decided to marry immediately so she could help him recover. They married in Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Brunswick and moved to Middletown, Conn., where she worked in the Wesleyan University library. After the war, they lived with Bert’s parents in Brunswick while he finished college.

Moving several times for Bert’s work at Friends schools, Barbara was secretary to the principal of Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. (the principal saying she was the smartest and most organized assistant he had ever had); librarian at George School in Newtown, Pa.; and secretary of Abington (Pa.) Meeting, which she joined.

In the late 1950s, she became ill, losing weight down to 80 pounds, and her doctor brother’s clinic in Seattle diagnosed celiac disease. She, afterward, often quietly helped newly diagnosed people cope with the dietary requirements.

Upon her retirement as secretary, Abington Meeting collected donations for an Alaskan cruise, something she had always wanted. She and Bert often vacationed on Bailey Island, Maine, at the 1910 cottage of one of her adopted grandmothers, Grace Clark. Over the years, they lifted the cottage up for a new foundation (the old one being two stones at each corner), rewired it, replaced the 2-hole outhouse with a bathroom, re-shingled it, and re-roofed it. After their retirement, they spent the non-freezing months of the year there until Bert became disabled, and enjoyed tea on the porch, concerts at Bowdoin, and covered dish suppers at nearby churches.

In 1994, they moved to Foulkeways retirement community in Gwynedd, Pa. Bert suffered from Multiple Systems Atrophy and needed daily help, so she spent most of her days in his room in the skilled nursing wing, limiting her opportunity to be with friends. After Bert passed away in 2010, she embraced life on her own, spending time with Foulkeways friends, visiting her children, and traveling to Seattle for her brother’s 90th birthday. All of her children and grandchildren were with her in her last days, during which she received caring support from the staff at Abington Memorial Hospital.

Barbara is survived by her children, Nicholas P. Mason (Susan J.), Daniel P. Mason (Deborah B.), and Faith Mason (Ann Elsbach); seven grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and four nieces.

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