David Lane Mason, 79, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, passed away on Monday January 4, 2021, from COVID-19 complications at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. David was a nuclear physicist and community advocate for over 50 years.
Dave was born on August 18, 1941, to David Franklin and Mildred Lane Mason in Madison, Tennessee. He grew up in Clarksville, Tennessee, where he met his future wife, Judy, when they both attended Clarksville High School. Dave was the first person in his family to go to college, and he attended Austin Peay State University for a bachelor of arts in physics and mathematics. During this time, he was a summer student at Oak Ridge National Laboratory through the Oak Ridge Institute for Nuclear Studies program. After graduation from APSU and his marriage to Judy in 1962, Dave went on to graduate school at the University of Florida, where he received a doctorate in nuclear physics. He completed his dissertation research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Dave began his professional career working for Union Carbide at Y-12, where he was Group Leader for Instrumentation, Department Superintendent for Instrumentation and Characterization, and Division Director for Health, Safety, and Environmental Affairs. In 1982, Dave and his family moved to Elkhart, Indiana, where he was a manager for Cabot Corporation. Dave later worked for Hobart Brothers Corporation in Troy, Ohio, before returning to Oak Ridge in 1988. After returning to Oak Ridge, Dave worked at the K-25 site in various positions, including Deputy Director of Environmental Management and Enrichment Facilities. Dave retired from the United States Enrichment Corporation in 2005 as the Director of Centrifuge Engineering and Manufacturing Project.
Throughout his life, Dave was most proud of his community service work. He was an active Rotarian, first in The Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, then as a charter member and the first President of the Sunset Rotary Club of Oak Ridge. Dave was an Assistant District Governor for Rotary in 2015. In addition to Rotary, Dave was also a member of the Board of Coalition of Oak Ridge Retired Employees, a loaned executive for the United Way of Anderson County, and an Emeritus Board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Oak Ridge. Dave sat on the City of Oak Ridge Industrial Development Board and Health & Education Facilities Board. As a founding member of the Oak Ridge Rowing Association, he helped develop and construct the rowing course at Melton Hill Lake. He also served on the Tennessee State Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Responsibility and was chairman of the East Tennessee Boys Club Council. As a member of the Sunset Rotary Club of Oak Ridge, Dave helped establish the annual Da Vinci Arts and Science Fair for elementary and middle school students. He also assisted in the establishment of an endowment fund for the Boys & Girls Club of Oak Ridge. In 2012, Dave was named a Safeco Community Hero for his efforts in the community, raising $10,000 for Aid to Distressed Families of Anderson County.
Dave was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather. From driving early morning ACAC swimming carpools in the 1970s to coaching his son’s sports teams at the Boy’s Club and encouraging academic success, Dave was a constant source of support and wisdom for his children. After the arrival of his grandchildren, his greatest pride and joy, he endlessly supported and encouraged their education and extracurricular activities. He instilled in his grandchildren the importance of service, gratitude, and family. He kept up with his grandsons’ sporting events and hobbies, even coaching his grandson’s baseball team, and always took late night calls from a stressed-out granddaughter to offer advice. He was always there for his children and grandchildren. His favorite part of the day was having dinner with his family.
Dave always believed that it “doesn’t matter where you start, it matters where you go and what you do with what you’ve been given.” He lived every day trying to do what was right and to give back to those around him. Dave also treasured his friends, especially travel companion and fellow scientist David Reichle. For more than 30 years, Dave was an avid squash player. Before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, he played several times a week with his long-time friends and competitors Syd Ball and Chuck Darling.
He is preceded in death by his parents David and Mildred Mason, father- and mother-in-law Clifford and Ann Lantrip, and brother-in-law Thomas Lantrip.
Dave is survived by his wife of 58 years, Judy Lantrip Mason; daughter Cathy Warmbrod and her husband, Kurt Warmbrod, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee; son Dave Mason Jr. and his wife, Amanda Mason, of Seattle, Washington; grandchildren Kelsey Lane Warmbrod and Matthew Warmbrod of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Van Mason and Guy Mason of Seattle, Washington; brother-in-law Bill Lantrip and his wife, Jean Lantrip, of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and their children and grandchildren; and many beloved friends and former colleagues.
A celebration of life will be planned for a later date. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties (ADFAC) PO Box 5953, Oak Ridge, TN 37831 or Rotary International, myrotary.org/en/donate.
Weatherford Mortuary is handling the arrangements. An online guestbook can be signed at www.weatherfordmortuary.com.