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Pastor says Mason was a 'go-getter'

November 26, 2005|By PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Bill Mason - the county's first black deputy, respected community member and beloved friend - died Wednesday of cancer.

He was 76.

"Bill was the kind of guy that was first in everything," his pastor, Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church the Rev. Leroy Jackson said Friday. "He was a go-getter. All you had to do was tell him what you wanted and he would make it happen."

As the county's only black deputy in the 1960s, Mason was instrumental in bringing peace to the Jonathan Street community at a time when "there was a lot of unrest, a lot of racial tension," Sheriff Charles Mades said.

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He became the department's chief deputy, a title few have held, he said.

Mason, who worked for the department for 16 years, was the first to respond to the state prison riots in the 1960s. "He was right at the front," Mades said.

Jackson said Mason had his hands in just about everything. He was a member of the church's board of trustees and helped find the church a new home when it was forced to move. He also helped form a group called The Clique Club, which brought together members from the community's churches.

"He loved people and he'd do a favor for you in a minute," Jackson said.

He said that Mason would often go to court to speak on behalf of those charged with crimes whom he believed deserved second chances.

Former Hagerstown Mayor Bill Breichner remembered Mason - who worked for the city for 15 years, most notably as its personnel director - fondly.

"He was respected everywhere. I can't think of anyone who did not have a great deal of respect for Bill," he said.

Breichner, who described Mason as a good friend, said he "was a very fair-minded individual, a sociable individual who I believe had an awful lot of friends in the community."

His funeral service is to be held at noon Monday at Christ's Reformed Church, at 130 W. Franklin St., followed by his burial at Rose Hill Cemetery.

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