April 10, 1915 ~ May 1, 2017
Glen Mason was born in Charleston, West Virginia. Both his parents were scholars and musicians. His mom played guitar and his father played concert violin. Glen was 5, three years older than his brother, Stan, when they lost their mother and moved to Panther Mountain, West Virginia. They were brought up by their paternal grandparents. In the mountains, they ate fresh food from the garden, raised livestock, and Glen ran everywhere he went (like Forest Gump).
Glen's interest in music started at 10 years old when his grandmother bought him his first guitar, and he taught himself to play by listening to the radio and figuring out Music Theory through math using ratio and proportion. He played in church, in college at Morris Harvey College and WV University, and was broadcasting live over 3 states at the age by 18.
Glen and his first wife lived in Barboursville, WV, where his first and only child was born, the apple of his eye, Charlene aka "Pookey", who continued his lineage with her husband, Danny Clay (whom Glen had the highest respect for), giving him the gift of 2 grandchildren (Bruce and Vicki), 4 great-grandchildren (Lauren, Zach, Sydney, and Tyler), and 2 great-great grandchildren (Hunter and Kori). He was lucky to be able to visit with all of them (except Hunter and Kori), playing music together daily, when he traveled to WV for a month in 2008 to spend time with his daughter and family.
Glen studied electronics and mathematics at WVU, where he was recommended to work in New Jersey with the U.S. government's signal corps on special secret projects. One of these projects was designing the first radar echo signals to the moon. Another was working in conjunction with the U.S. and Canadian governments on the DEW Line (Distant Early Warning) radar project where he lived in Alaska and Canada. He also lived in Colorado where he did technical writing for the Air Force's Atlas underground missile project. Eventually, he stayed in New Jersey where he was a senior technical writer, field engineer, and instructor. It was through his career in electronics where he met his second wife, Antoinette, and raised her son, Bobby, as if he were his own child. Bobby and Diana blessed Glen and Ann with a granddaughter, Carissa, whom they both loved very much. The house was filled with music, and Glen and Ann's harmonies together were a delight to listen to; although they never performed together professionally.
Glen's love for music never died. In New Jersey, he became popular as "Sonny" Mason and formed his first band, The Texas Ramblers, entertaining throughout the Eastern Seaboard playing country music in bars, for the military, and at nightclubs, including the largest night club in New Jersey, the Casablanca, from where they would frequently broadcast his shows over the radio. He met a banjo player; his love of bluegrass took over, and he formed a band called The Panther Mountain Ramblers. After he retired from teaching at Essex County College, he and Ann moved to California to be closer to his brother and family. He soon was into the bluegrass scene in California and formed the second Panther Mountain Ramblers band with his niece, Nancilyn on bass, Bill on banjo, and several different fiddle players along the way, the latest being Mark Shapiro. They played many regular and special events at several venues in southern CA, had a sizable fan club, and were the opening band for Juice Newton, being personally requested by the mayor of Torrance. His great-nephew Lyle listened to them rehearsing in the living room and eventually became a guitar player. Although their genres were different, they would often find middle ground and play around together. Glen's grandson, Bruce, also plays guitar.
After Glen lost both his brother Stan and wife Ann, in 2001, he married his third wife, Delia, his former sister-in-law. They were the perfect match as they had been friends for years and both loved and respected each other's former spouses dearly. Throughout this transitional period, he created a 3rd Panther Mountain Ramblers (Rick, Craig, Danny, and Brian) that played at their wedding and multiple venues. That group divided, and he formed a second bluegrass band called The Mason Mountaineers with Dave, Tom, Danny, and Lynn. They played a regular gig at Suzy's in Hermosa Beach, CA for over 3 years. From there, Delia aka "The Boss", encouraged Glen to form a 4th Panther Mountain Ramblers with her on vocals and his best friend Miles on guitar; Danny was on bass and Lynn on fiddle. They added ragtime, country, blues, Gay 90's, and some standards along with the bluegrass. They played the local Farmer's Markets and were regulars at Suzy's as well. After that, his niece Nancilyn introduced him to a teenager who lived up the street from her and played a mean guitar. When Glen and Matt met, it was like a match made in heaven, showing how music transcends age differences. Glen taught Matt to play the banjo, and he was so pleased with Matt's talent that he decided to form another band; Nancilyn joined them on bass and vocals. They rehearsed on a regular basis, where Matt learned a huge repertoire of bluegrass music, the history behind the original artists, and the background of the music and songs. It was wonderful that Glen could pass this incredible knowledge base on to someone who had both the interest and talent, and their love for each other grew as if he were a grandfather to Matt. Due to Glen's declining health, their newest venue was for convalescent patients. Glen's final performance was a duet with Miles at Sunnyside Rehabilitation Facility where Glen was a patient himself. This was only about 2 weeks before he died. He had the nurses and other patients' visitors dancing, clapping, singing, and making requests. They raved about his talent. Glen had such a passion for music, that even when he felt bad, he would often play for hours on end. Glen played mostly guitar and mandolin, but would frequently pick up a banjo, the fiddle, the Dobro, the ukulele, and since the piano has strings, he would play around with that, too, but only on the black keys!
It was a beautiful, peaceful ending when family and friends came by the house to entertain him with music and song during the last two days of his life.
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