Friday, January 19, 2018
News Roundup

Epilogue: Former St. Petersburg City Council member Ron Mason

ST. PETERSBURG — Ron Mason was easy to talk to. He wasn't bashful. He asked you about yourself. And when you responded, he listened.

"A lot of people talk about themselves, but they don't ask you about yourself,'' said his widow, Pat Mason. "It's fun to talk to somebody who's interested in you."

Mr. Mason died Monday at 73. He served on the St. Petersburg City Council from 1987 to 1991 and was involved with several arts and community groups, including the Florida Arts Commission. He was also a State Farm insurance agent for 47 years and raised three children with Pat: Ronald, Paisley and Randy. He had four grandchildren and loved having them over.

Mr. Mason was curious about the world and loved art. Over the years, he and Pat traveled the West and built an impressive collection of contemporary and Southwestern pieces. They ate good food and hosted memorable parties at houses he rehabbed.

Bob Haiman, a longtime family friend and former executive editor of the St. Petersburg Times, recalled asking Mr. Mason why he loved the arts, architecture and interior design but worked in insurance.

"He said, 'Listen Bob. I don't have anything against the insurance business. I like the insurance business, but I don't love the insurance business. And the reason I do the insurance business — and I like it — is that, thank God, it creates the kind of income for me and my family that allows me to indulge my real passions.'

"He knew exactly what he wanted to do in life and he knew exactly what he had to do in life," Haiman said. "My guess is not all that many people in the world have found a way to create that kind of architecture of happiness in their lives."

Pat Mason knew Mr. Mason had it together when they met at Florida State University.

"I married Ron because he was so much fun," she said. "He loved people. He was very outgoing and I was more shy. And he always had a plan for what we were going to do."

The two were married in 1966 and recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. They lived in Miami for a few years, but when it was time to buy a house and raise a family, they chose St. Petersburg. They both became involved with community groups and the local arts scene.

Pat shepherded the First Night New Year's Eve celebration for years and served as its executive director. Mr. Mason served on local arts commissions and was one of the original chairmen of the Mainsail Arts Festival.

His friend Ed Shamas, owner of Orange Blossom Catering, recalled some frustrations Mr. Mason had when he was trying to make St. Petersburg an arts haven.

"Always when you want to create something, people can take a short-sighted view of it," Shamas said. "Ron had a broader view of things."

Contact Jack Suntrup at [email protected] or (727) 893-8092. Follow @JackSuntrup. Researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.

Comments

Crews Lake thespians overcome the odds

SPRING HILL — It’s 8:30 a.m. — "homeroom" period in school speak — when kids in the Crews Lake Middle School drama club file into an empty chorus room to begin rehearsing under the direction of language arts teacher Kristen Sykora. There’s only 25 m...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

Proposed monument near St. Pete pier would honor Tony Jannus history-making flight

ST. PETERSBURG — Tony Jannus’s history-making flight in an early seaplane — simultaneously as ungainly and graceful as a pelican on the wing — is what Mayor Rick Kriseman calls an "under-told and under-appreciated" story, but a team of local history ...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
Autopsy: MLB star Roy Halladay died from blunt force trauma, drowning

Autopsy: MLB star Roy Halladay died from blunt force trauma, drowning

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died from blunt force trauma with drowning as a contributing factor when he crashed his personal plane into the water off New Port Richey in November, according to an autopsy report released Friday.Ha...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soulfood restaurant as part of IRS scheme, steals thousands

U.S. Attorney: Tampa woman uses soulfood restaurant as part of IRS scheme, steals thousands

TAMPA — The owner of a soul and seafood restaurant is facing more than 10 years in federal prison for filing dozens of false tax returns and stealing thousands of dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.Natalie Rene Panko, 57, owner of Ladie...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

Learn how bus rapid transit (and rail) could work in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest hope for transportation in the Tampa Bay area is a bus rapid transit system projected to cover the 41-miles separating St. Petersburg from Wesley Chapel and attract 4,500 new riders at a fraction of the cost of light rail....
Updated: 1 hour ago

Editorial: Confronting racial distrust in St. Petersburg, one conversation at a time

The St. Petersburg Police Department’s heavy presence in Midtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the community animosity it stirred have raised a familiar, troubling question: Can St. Petersburg’s racial divisions ever be reconciled?That big ideal ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

Cuts hit top school leaders as Hillsborough sheds three six-figure salaries

TAMPA — Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins on Friday announced the first in a series of belt-tightening moves that include the elimination of three six-figure positions.Jobs now held by Wynne Tye and Larry Sykes will no longer exis...
Updated: 1 hour ago
That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

That noise you hear from MacDill is low-flying A-10 Warthogs in training

TAMPA — If you hear loud noises coming from MacDill Air Force Base over the next few days, don’t be alarmed.It’s the sound of flying Hogs.A squadron of A-10C Warthogs, beloved by troops in the field for their ability to swoop low and slow and tear ap...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa man gets five life sentences for killing three with assault rifle

Tampa man gets five life sentences for killing three with assault rifle

TAMPA — One early morning three years ago, Angel Luis Perez burst through the back door of an east Tampa home and fired an AK-47 assault rifle into two people as they lie in their bed.A 3-year-old boy witnessed the murders.Perez, high on cocaine, gra...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Column: Keep children out of the adult prison system

Column: Keep children out of the adult prison system

The city of St. Petersburg is taking a stand for Florida children in hopes of changing our state’s affinity for prosecuting children in the adult criminal justice system — something we do more than any other state.In the 6th Judicial Circuit — coveri...
Updated: 2 hours ago