On May 24, 2022, Gerald Eugene Mason of Green Acres in Lowell, formerly of Belding, left this Earth for his Heavenly home. Jerry, as he was known by all who knew him, was born at home in Orleans Township to Charles and Gladys (Jewell) Mason on February 24, 1932, and was one of 13 children.
In his youth, Jerry helped his father on their small family farm with various chores including plowing the field with a team of horses. Growing up during The Great Depression taught Jerry to be a very resourceful person, and provided him the experience to repair or build almost anything as needed. After attending Dorr School, he quit to work at local farms and various jobs to help support his family. With the Korean War in action, Jerry volunteered to serve his country and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951 and served until 1954, being honorably discharged as a sergeant. After enlistment, he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, received his training at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, and then boarded a ship for active duty in Korea to serve in the 2nd Infantry Division. While serving in the Korean War, he mastered the art of weapon repair. After his Army tour of duty, he returned to Belding to marry the love of his life, Alice Coates, on May 28, 1955; a marriage that would last 50 years until her death in 2005. Together they raised three daughters in a little home he built with the assistance of his father, Charles, and father-in-law, Elmer Coates. During the early years of his marriage, Jerry worked for Nelson’s Welcome Orchard in Ionia where he developed a passion for growing apple trees. After leaving Nelson’s, he pursued a career as a professional truck driver, earning his certificate from Lansing Community College. In 1968, Jerry commenced work at Indian Summer in Belding and retired in 1998 after 30 years of employment.
Jerry had many talents and interests in life but his passion was his music. When he was 15, his mother enrolled him in Hager’s Schools of Music where he learned to play the steel guitar. From these music lessons, Jerry gained an early appreciation for music, which would continue and grow throughout the remainder of his life. For many years, he would accompany local musicians to perform at various gatherings throughout Michigan. It was during these musical events he would meet many wonderful people that would become lifelong friends. When potluck dinners were included, Jerry was sure to bring along a homemade apple pie featuring the fruit from his well-maintained apple trees.
A memorable characteristic of Jerry is that he had a sense of responsibility. Without hesitation, he would assist a family member, friend, neighbor or stranger in need of help at any time, day or night. He also loved to visit with family and friends and was quick to share stories of his many life experiences and memories. Thus, “a short visit” with someone was never really short.
Preceding Jerry in death were his parents, his beloved wife, Alice, and his eldest daughter, Linda. He was also predeceased by his siblings, Ilah, Orville, Roy, Laura, Thomas, Alfred, Nancy, Herbert, Marian, Dorman and James, several nieces and nephews and relatives-in-law. Surviving Jerry to remember him with love are his daughters, Audrey (Steve) Ackerson of Benton Harbor, Michigan and Tina (Jeff) Williams of South Bend, Indiana; grandson, Trey, great-granddaughter, Ozlynn; sister, Janette Neilson-Phillips; brother-in-law, Gordon (Barb) Coates; many dear nieces and nephews and many special friends that have shared in his journey through life.
A Memorial Service will be conducted at Lehman Funeral Home, 220 Rich Street, Ionia, on Friday, June 10, 2022 at 2:00 p.m. by Pastor Kendall Harger, with a graveside service following at Greene Cemetery on Johnson Road, Belding. Visitation with the family will commence one hour prior the memorial service. The family wishes to extend their heartfelt appreciation for the loving care and attention provided by Jody, Nancy, and all of the caregivers at Green Acres in Lowell and Kindred Hospice of Grand Rapids. For those wishing, donations in memory of Jerry may be made to the Parkinson’s Association of West Michigan, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, Kindred Hospice – Grand Rapids or to a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be made at www.lehmanfuneralhomes.com.
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