Michael William Mason
Michael W. Mason, 58, of Stone Lake, died Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 at his home.
Michael, first named Christopher Michael for his Irish heritage, was born on June 18, 1955 in St. Paul, Minn. His birth mother, making the ultimate sacrifice, placed him in a local orphanage hoping he would be adopted by parents who could provide him with a better life than she would be able to.
Her dreams for him soon came true when Bill and Evelyn Mason, working through Catholic Charities, adopted their first child, renaming him Michael William as it just seemed to fit. When the final papers were signed, Michael joined his new parents in Rice Lake, which would become his hometown.
As years passed, Michael frequently shared how thankful he was for his birth mother’s sacrifice, and for being “chosen” by Bill and Evelyn. Michael firmly believed that if he had drafted a list of qualifications for his new parents, the results would likely have fallen short of God’s selection of Bill and Evelyn Mason.
Michael was ultimately joined by three siblings, Mary and Susan, who were also adopted, and his foster brother, John Mosansky, who joined this special family after completing seventh grade.
Michael attended St. Joseph’s Catholic School for eight years, and then graduated from Rice Lake High School in 1973. Throughout these years Michael spent much of his time helping his parents by working in the family-owned funeral business or other business endeavors the family became involved in. He attended UW-River Falls for one year, returning to Rice Lake to attend the UW-Barron County campus and then completed his funeral director and embalming apprenticeship under his father’s tutelage.
While doing so, his dad quickly passed on his well-known dedication to community service. This led to Michael serving as an officer with the Loyal Order of Moose, the Knights of Columbus, and the Rice Lake Aquafest Committee. Michael followed in his father’s footsteps when he was selected president of the Aquafest Committee some 15 years after his father had been the founder and named its first president.
Michael also served his hometown community as a volunteer fireman and as a Barron County Sheriff’s Department Reserve Deputy. The latter ultimately led to Michael changing careers and becoming a law enforcement officer.
Michael joined the Menomonie Police Department in July of 1980 and remained there until his retirement in 2007. He served Menomonie as a patrol officer, youth services officer and as a criminal investigator.
Michael was best known for his time in youth services, investigating child physical and sexual abuse while also acting as the department’s liaison with the Menomonie schools. In that capacity, Michael always made himself available to any of the nearly 2,000 students and their parents he worked with each day. He often intervened in times of crisis at the student and parents’ request, even if it wasn’t a typical police officer function.
Michael was the police department’s first traffic accident reconstruction specialist and was often called upon by other agencies to provide expert assistance or testimony as needed.
Forever thankful for his training, Michael shared his expertise as a part-time instructor at the Chippewa Valley Technical College, teaching new officers or enhancing the seasoned officers training in crash investigation. Michael received a Distinguished Service Award from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in 1983 for his participation in the development and implementation of a new, statewide accident reporting form.
He helped develop the training curriculum needed to implement the new report and was ultimately named the lead instructor, training others who would go on to train all officers statewide. Investigator Mason also further specialized in both death and arson investigation during his career, and passed on that training and expertise by providing specialized training as well.
Throughout his career in Menomonie, he was a member of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and served as the president, vice president and secretary-treasurer of its local, the Menomonie Professional Police Association.
In 1997, he was named as a member of the Society of Accident Reconstructionists. He was also a charter member of the Wisconsin Association of Homicide Investigators, the Wisconsin Juvenile Officer’s Association, and a past president of the West Central Investigator’s Association.
Embodying his father’s dedication to community service, Michael also served Menomonie, and especially its youth, through his participation on committees, such as the Dunn County Truancy Committee, the Dunn County Juvenile Justice Committee, and many others. Michael also served nearly 14 years as a board member of Positive Alternatives, Inc.
Michael’s greatest accomplishments, he would tell you, included his love of family and especially his undying love of his children, Benjamin and Jenna. He always considered them the greatest gifts he had ever received and was forever thankful for the blessings of being their “Dad”.
Although Bill and Evelyn had been brilliant mentors, Ben and Jenna taught him more each day about being a father than they could ever imagine. He and their mother, Linda, were truly blessed to have shared these two special gifts.
After his retirement, Michael returned to his family cabin of nearly 50 years located on Lac Courte Oreilles. There, on Victory Heights, he resided while cherishing the many fond memories of his family and friends.
He treasured the abundant Catholic history of Victory Heights as well as Our Lady of the Lake Chapel nearby. Both reminded him daily of the importance of his faith, emphasizing that those he loved so dearly will someday fondly critique his life in order to define his legacy. There, he also reminisced on the many hours of swimming, skiing, sailing and fishing he shared with all those he loved, especially these past few years with Ben and Jenna.
Mike Mason is survived by a son, Benjamin Mason of Menomonie; a daughter, Jenna Mason (Travis Hartz) of Minneapolis, Minn.; three granddaughters, Chloe, Amelia and Delilah of Minneapolis; a brother and sister-in-law, John and Sharon Mosansky of Rice Lake; two sisters and brothers-in-law, Mary and Mitch McKenzie of Stillwater, Minn. and Susan and Bill Plahn of Rice Lake; uncles, aunts and six nephews and nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Evelyn Mason; a niece, Sarah Thompson; and many uncles and aunts.
A Mass of Christian burial will be held 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rice Lake, with Fr. James Powers officiating and with interment in Nora Cemetery in Rice Lake. Visitation will be held from 4-7 p.m. Monday at Appleyard’s Home for Funerals in Rice Lake and for one hour prior to the service at the Church.