(August 14, 2010) — New College of Florida trustee Raymond E. Mason, Jr., a decorated veteran of World War II and philanthropist who devoted his life to providing higher-education opportunities for young people, died on Friday. He was 90.
Mason was a longtime member of the New College of Florida Board of Trustees and the New College Foundation and endowed numerous scholarships at the College. For his enduring commitment to the College and his service on the New College of Florida Board of Trustees from 2001-2009, Mason received a special commendation from the College upon his retirement from the Board in 2009. He continued to serve on the New College Foundation Board at the time of his death.
“Ray Mason was, above all, a great American patriot. He was also a central and generous figure in New College’s history, including its transition to full independence,” said New College President Mike Michalson. “He was gruff, insightful and kind, and he asked all the right questions. I am personally very grateful for all that he and his wife Margaret have done for New College over the years.”
Mason was a graduate of Ohio State University and served in World War II in the European theater with the Fourth Armored Division of General George S. Patton’s Third Army. For his distinguished service during the war, he was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and other citations. Following the war, he founded the Columbus Truck and Equipment Company of Columbus, Ohio, in 1949 and established his fortune.
But Mason’s real passion was his support of young people in their pursuit of higher education. He was one of New College’s longest and most staunch supporters. In addition to his support of New College, he also was a longtime supporter of Ohio State University, Berea College, Alice Lloyd College and Franklin University.
Locally, Mason was a significant contributor to Ringling College of Art and Design, Mote Marine Laboratory, the Sarasota Orchestra, Women’s Resource Center and numerous other educational and cultural organizations.
“General Mason was extremely generous,” said former State Senator Bob Johnson, who served with him on the New College Board of Trustees and who is a former director of the Raymond E. Mason Foundation. “His impact on our local community and on colleges and cultural organizations around the country was extremely significant. Ray was also a close personal friend, and I will miss him.”
Mason is survived by his wife, Margaret, and sons, Raymond E. Mason, III, Michael D. Mason and Bruce R. Mason.
A memorial service for General Raymond E. Mason, Jr., is planned for 2 pm on Thursday, August 19, at Church of the Palms, 3224 Bee Ridge Road, in Sarasota. For more information, please contact the New College Foundation at (941) 487-4800.