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Remembering Gary Mason


Gary Mason

Gary, Mace, Mase, Mr. Mason, Dean Mason, Coach. A man who gave his heart to our students and served them with love, compassion, and humor. No matter the name you used - our longtime Dean of Students, Gary Mason, had a profound impact on the O’Dowd community during his 37 years of service. After his passing, many alumni, students, families, and colleagues shared their memories, noting the impact he had on their lives. May their memories bring joy, peace, and a Mace-worthy smile to your face.


From Our Students

“My favorite memory of Coach Mason was when he was like a Jedi Knight coming to save the day. I was on the varsity football team in the fall of ’85 and felt invincible. One day after PE class, I decided to sneak a heavy rep or two on the bench press. I was alone in the weight room and attempted my rep. I could not get the bar and weights off of my chest. I was trying to roll the weights down but it was taking forever. I heard someone come in and it was Coach Mace. He gave me that infamous look and just shook his head. He got that bar off of me in no time. I don’t think he even busted me out at football practice that day, but he did look at me with that same look from earlier with that huge grin on his face.” - Troy Brown ’86


“As a mother, I was always relieved that a person of integrity and compassion was at the helm when disciplining kids. Both our children, David and Lisa Baskin attended O’Dowd so I was able to see Mr. Mason many times. He was always warm and welcoming. Our grandchildren were also lucky to have attended O’Dowd and the Mr. Mason stories have continued. Having Mr. Mason present with his huge smile and good-natured manner cannot be replaced. He has touched all of us deeply in countless ways.” - Susan Baskin, parent of 1989 and 1992 alumni and grandparent of 2021 alumnus.


“There's not one favorite memory of Mr. Mason, but a feeling I get when I remember him. Mr. Mason was always the most relatable dean. He seemed to be able to relate to the experience of going through the teenage years with young people who were not always making the best choices, but he never made you feel bad about yourself for having made a bad choice. Instead he focused on helping us get the lesson from it. Seeing him at various spots in SF following graduation was always a fun surprise and he was just as engaged in knowing how we were doing in life beyond high school. He will be dearly missed but never forgotten. He's left his lasting mark with his smile and wisdom on so many...including me!” - Amy Nolin LeBold ’94


“I remember when Mace and his now-wife visited our Marriage & Family class. They talked about how people squeeze toothpaste differently. I still, 30 years later, think of this almost every day when I brush my teeth.” - Annie Freccero ’94


Gary Mason with CMT

“My favorite memory is when Mase played Santa for the Christmas play the Campus Ministry Team put on for a school mass. He joyfully agreed to reprise the role he had previously performed. He was always helpful, gracious, and just a wonderful person. Dean Mason always had an open door and he would go out of his way to let you know he was there for you and knew who you were. He made every single student feel appreciated!” - Hassan Malik Orr ’94


“Mace and I had many occasions to spend time together as I had both truancy and GPA issues - especially in my last year at O'Dowd. Even when he was disciplining me, he always treated me like a good kid who was exhibiting less-than-good behavior. He always smiled at me in the halls, and joked and laughed with me. He never let the fact that he had to deal with some of the trouble I was causing to interfere with him acknowledging that he liked me personally. That kindness and grace meant a lot to me in a time of life when I felt like so many authority figures had it out for me.” - Jordan Gill ’95


“Starting my freshman year, Mr. Mason and I got to know each other very well because I forgot my locker combination daily! He had to have had it memorized faster than I did. Finally, after weeks and weeks, Mr. Mason said, ‘You know what, I’m going to give you another lock.’ He opened his big combination book and said, ‘How about this one.’ I still have that lock to this day and have memorized its combination for the last 20+ years. I don’t even have anything locked it’s just here. 18-32-10 - That’s my old locker combination. I envision him in his office every time I brag to my old friends that I still know the combo of my high school locker.” - Lisa Zigenis-Grant ’99


“Mr. Mason stuck his neck out for me when it counted. Thank you for believing in me when it was easy not to. I've paid my debt forward by doing my best to emulate your tempered wisdom and deliberate and thoughtful fairness. I am very fortunate to have been guided by this great man and unsung local hero.” - Anton Bennett ’02


“Mr. Mason was not only our Dean…he was respected, he was our mentor, and he was our friend. He knew how to reach us, guide us, and teach us the life lessons we needed to learn. As young adults in our college and after college years, we always loved running into Mace at Momos.” - Amy Greer Dorshkind ’02


Gary at Cummins Ctr Grand Opening

“Mr. Mason was a pivotal part of my high school and college years in so many ways. My early memories of him were a result of my dad commuting, so I was dropped off at school early. I would cross paths with Mace every morning as he got to school and bug him endlessly over random things. Whether it be teacher woes, strict parent issues, friend drama, homework, etc. he was always game for listening and never brushed me off. Mr. Mason is the true embodiment of living Christ-like. Kind but firm, open but accountable, warm and welcoming of all. He loved his students and colleagues. He was and will remain the backbone of O’Dowd in so many ways.” - Katharine Mettelmann Frias ’04


“Mr. Mason always saw the best in me. He helped me through some hard times during my four years at O'Dowd and even after, he continued to be there for me. My absolute favorite memory is a night rally performance during Spirit Week. All of the facility put on a performance to surprise the student body and Mason came out as Tina Turner. Wig, skirt heels, and all. I will NEVER forget that moment of complete shock and joy!” - Joanna Rossoni ’05


“My daughter Francesca Kelly started at O’Dowd in 2013 and I started volunteering there the same year, After we both got to know Mr. Mason he always had a smile for us. One day he looked straight into my daughter‘s eyes and said, ‘Francesca if you ever get into trouble don’t call your mother, call me.’ And thank the Lord, she never had to call him.” - Cookie Kelly, parent of Francesca Kelly ’13


Gary

“I was a student-athlete at O’Dowd and ended up playing football at Columbia University. During my sophomore year, I was struggling with whether I should strictly focus on becoming the best football player I could be, or to put more attention and effort into my studies. Mr. Mason made a conscious effort to bring me to his office and give me a strict but necessary lecture about potential and focus. Following my sophomore year, I enrolled in multiple AP classes and spent the entire summer getting in the best shape possible. I can remember seeing Mr. Mason on campus in the early mornings and late evenings just as I was arriving for workouts or leaving for the day. Whether we spoke or just exchanged eye contact, his presence kept me on the straight and narrow. During my senior year, Columbia University’s football team showed interest in me and Mace gave me the confidence to go on an official visit. I remember him giving me a big hug during National Signing Day.” - Chad Washington ’11


“Every morning during my four years at O'Dowd, Mr. Mason was there to welcome every student with a giant smile and a comment to make me laugh. From football games to student assemblies and especially graduation, Mr. Mason was always there to cheer on, to protect, and most of all to care for each and every one of us. Through tough times he was there to comfort me, advise me, and guide me. His office was always open for all and he was always so thoughtful with a contagious laugh .” - Mj S. Agudelo ’15


Sara's parking spot

“My favorite memory of Mace has to do with my senior parking space. I was lucky enough to have a spot right in front of the library on campus, but because it was right next to the guest spot, other people would always park there. Together, we came up with a solution that I needed a sign that said it was my parking spot. So, he let me take a photo of him standing in front of the parking spot with the sign labeled ‘Sara Redfield’s parking spot. Do not park here.’ Mace was such a funny and kind person, and he was always offering to help me if I needed anything.” - Sara Redfield ’22


“Every single time I would walk up and down the front steps, Mr. Mason was always there to give me a fistbump and ask, ‘How is your day?’ These meetings were the highlights of my day, as his smile always brightened up my day, and I just genuinely enjoyed talking to him.” - Leo Schwartz ’25



From Our Staff

Gary Mason and Shannon Donahue

“Gary was so much fun to work with. Some of my favorite memories are laughing with him at the winter staff party and outside supervising activities. But a memory that really stands out for me is the day that Gary joined me in teaching the staff about how to sort their waste properly into three different bins. Gary really hammed it up and had a great time, and after that, he was one of my most important allies for encouraging sustainability across the campus. The man was patient, caring, reliable, funny, and loving, and has truly made a lasting mark on the O'Dowd identity.” - Andra Yeghoian, former staff member


“Gary always had a smile on his face and a warm greeting for everyone. When alumni and former parents came to campus they would always ask, ‘Is Mr. Mason here?’ Gary would make time to say hello, catch up, and share stories. He helped so many students make it successfully through all four years of O'Dowd. He will be missed.” - Michelle Hawkins, staff member and alumni parent


Ms. Warmerdam and Mr. Mason 1990

"Working with Gary was a privilege. He typified generosity and kindness-of-heart when dealing with very difficult school situations. Justice and fairness were the standards he tried to uphold always. I felt Gary stood by me even when it was a particular challenge to do so. Gary made me smile and not always take myself too seriously.” - Pam Shay, former principal


“As Assistant to the Principal and Main Office Manager, I had daily interactions with Gary for 12 years. He was so easy to work with and just spending the everyday happenings of a school day with him was so much fun. I will miss his smile, his humor, his kindness, and his generosity. Just knowing that such an approachable, dependable co-worker and friend was down the hall from me brought comfort, security, and joy to my day.” - Jeannie Dupont, former staff member


The Mace, from 1995 yearbook

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