Harry Mason

Harry Austin Mason, age 89, died peacefully at home on May 22, 2015. A native and lifelong resident of Pine Hill, Alabama, Harry was an area business, church and political leader – including 20 years as mayor. Harry was the third child of Charles Oscar and Julia Austin Mason. While just 16 years old, Mason started his own grocery store, the Economy Store, as a partnership with his father. After graduating from Pine Hill High School in 1943, Mason entered the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. and served as a Cadet-Midshipman during World War II. He was assigned to the S.S. Sea Porpoise, a troop transport vessel, and during the Normandy Invasion helped deliver 3,000 troops safely to Omaha Beach. The ship struck a mine while returning to England, but the crew kept the ship afloat. After the war, Harry completed his studies at Kings Point and returned to Pine Hill. In 1946 he moved his store to the town’s main intersection where he expanded the inventory to include “Everything for Home and Farm,” a slogan that defined his comprehensive country store philosophy. At “Mr. Harry’s Store,” as most customers called it, customers also could pick up the latest community news, the hottest gossip, the best advice and, of course, groceries on credit. After 50 years, Harry closed the Economy Store in 1991. He was elected mayor in 1992, and for the next 20 years worked as a tireless advocate for the town he loved. He led an annexation effort that almost doubled the town’s population. Earlier he founded Pine Hill’s volunteer fire department and served as fire chief for more than two decades. During the turbulent 1960s and ’70s, he served 18 years on the Wilcox County School Board and became a voice of reason during heated desegregation battles. During the same time, he worked on the county’s economic development board to bring the massive MacMillan Bloedel paper mill (now International Paper) to Pine Hill. A strong Christian faith guided Harry throughout his life and career, and he was a leader in the Pine Hill United Methodist Church. He was Sunday School Superintendent for more than 40 years and served as a trustee at his local church as well as for the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Harry was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Mittie Crum Cook. He is survived by a sister, Nancy Mason Rice, and by three children: Harry Edward Mason (Doris) of Livingston, Thomas Cook Mason of Mobile and Mittie Felicia Mason of Birmingham. He is also survived by two grandchildren: Eddie Mason (Stephanie) and Staci Mason Rogers (Aduston), and four great-grandchildren: Jackson Mason, Bryce Mason, Lallie Rogers and McPherson Rogers. Survivors also include his loving caregivers Patricia Klug and Sarah Brackett. Funeral services will be at the Pine Hill United Methodist Church on Monday, May 25, 2015 at 3 p.m. The family will receive visitors at the church beginning at 2 p.m. Rev. Dawn Bond will officiate. Burial will be in the Pine Hill Cemetery immediately following the service. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the United Methodist Children’s Home, 3140 Zelda Court, Montgomery, AL 36106, or to the Pine Hill Volunteer Fire Department, P. O. Box 397, Pine Hill, AL 36769. Arrangements by O’Bryant Chapel Funeral Home in Thomasville, AL.

All obituaries taken from the website of the corresponding funeral home unless otherwise noted.