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Mason (nee Bawden), Eileen

Eileen Violet Mason (nee Bawden) was born in Fort Macleod on July 19, 1915 and lived there for most of her 95 years. She passed away on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010, at Rosewood Manor in Fort Macleod.
Eileen was predeceased by her parents Albert and Melissa Bawden, and by her husband Arthur Mason. She is survived by her two sons, Neil (Elizabeth) and Larry (Svea); grandsons Nicholas (Neil) and Parker (Larry); sister Marjory Pozzi; and very dear friends Dick and Joanne Chute.
Family, friends, colleagues, and neighbours will remember Eileen for her intelligence, her sense of humour, her willingness to help others, and her genuine good nature. Former students will also remember her all-knowing, all-seeing gaze. She never lost her ability to cast that penetrating “schoolteacher look” and her sons dearly loved to tease her about that. She unfailingly responded with her characteristic self deprecating chuckle.
Eileen’s parents owned and operated the Bawden Bakery in Fort Macleod from 1910 to 1951. Eileen, along with her younger sister Marjory, grew up in the family business and had fond memories of working alongside her mother and father; helping them with bakery tasks and serving customers. On the many occasions she was recognized for the solid work ethic that characterized her long working life, Eileen referenced her early exposure to the work force and graciously acknowledged the role her parents played in forming her values.
Following graduation from Fort Macleod High School, Eileen attended Normal School and went on to the University of Alberta where she graduated with a BA in 1938. She taught in a number of Alberta schools before marrying Arthur Mason and settling in Picture Butte in 1944.
Son Neil was born in 1946 and Larry in 1948. Neil was still a toddler and Larry just a baby when a devastating fire destroyed the young Mason family’s home and all of their belongings. They moved to Nobleford to re-establish their lives and Eileen resumed her teaching career there.
After Arthur’s sudden death in 1956, Eileen’s widowed mother Melissa Bawden moved in with her and together they made the decision to return to Fort Macleod. ‘Granny’ Melissa helped Eileen raise the boys and, after they left home, continued to help run the household until shortly before her death at age 95.
After moving back to Fort Macleod, Eileen immediately began her 20-year teaching career with the Willow Creek School District and, while juggling career and demands of a young family, attended summer school sessions at the University of Alberta. In 1961 she completed the requirements for a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Her long-term interest in school libraries was heightened by her return to university and she focused on this area of education until her retirement in 1976.
Eileen was a life-long learner long before that term became popular. She was unfailingly surrounded by books and her extensive post retirement travels were always preceded by intense research on the language, history, geography and culture of the country she would be visiting. The preparation of an in-depth paper for presentation to her Fortnightly literary group began the moment she returned from a trip and her suitcase remained unpacked by the door until that task was complete. She was ever the teacher. Eileen took great pride in the fact that she had raised a family of readers and, not surprisingly, her last shopping trip was to a bookstore to purchase Christmas gifts for her sons and grandsons.
Eileen’s commitment to literacy and to education was evident both in her choice of career and in her volunteer activities. She served as a director of the Fort Macleod Public Library and was a representative of the Southwest Library Trustees on the Provincial Library Trustees Board. She served a term as Southwest Liaison to the Alberta Library Association and in 1991 was presented with a Provincial Achievement Award in recognition of her volunteer work.
Eileen was a long-term member of Trinity United Church, the Lewis Auxiliary, the Order of the Eastern Star, the Retired Teachers’ Association, and the Fort Macleod Fortnightly Literary Group. She was an avid bridge player and a good friend.
As a result of her multiple connections in the Fort Macleod community Eileen had many visitors who came to see her in her final years at Rosewood Villa and she was often greeted by those visiting other residents of the villa with the comment, “There is my old English teacher,” or, “That lady taught me how to find a book in the library.” She took great delight in that recognition and always remembered the connection.
When Eileen became unable to manage on her own and ultimately moved to Rosewood Villa in 2005, a group of dear friends and retired teachers insured that she always had a ride to church, to bridge club, to Fortnightly meetings, to Retired Teachers’ gatherings, to her Bible Study group, and to the library. As her health failed and she was unable to leave Rosewood, the same group continued to visit, bring flowers, deliver library books, and read her beloved poetry to her. Neil and Larry are greatly appreciative and thank this group for their loyalty and for their many kindnesses to their mother. Further, they thank the staff at Rosewood Villa for their attentive care and they especially thank Tillie Van Sluys who Eileen claimed had a special talent to make a cup of coffee “exactly the way I like it.” In Eileen’s last days and weeks it was Tillie who had the unique ability to make her smile and respond to a greeting. Thanks are not enough for that kind of care.
An opportunity to share stories about, and memories of, Eileen Mason will be provided following a memorial service at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010, at Trinity United Church in Fort Macleod.
In her later years, Eileen enjoyed the services of the Fort Macleod Handibus. She was also a supporter of the Fort Macleod Welcome Mat, housed in the Eileen Mason Building on Main Street in Fort Macleod. In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations, in Eileen’s memory, to either of these organizations.

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