Clarence Richard Mason (Richard) of Windsor passed away peacefully on January 29, 2021 at VITAS Hospice in Gainesville of complications following a stroke. He was 83.
Richard was born in Waynesville, North Carolina on July 24, 1937. He proudly served as a Corporal in the United States Marine Corps and spent part of his service stationed in Japan.
Richard was well known to many local residents as Gainesville’s original “Mr. Christmas,” a title he was proud to have. From 1969 to 1999, the Mason family’s Christmas decorations on NE 15th Terrace near 16th Avenue entertained thousands of local families who piled their children in the car and came to enjoy the over-100,000 lights, displays, Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and the numerous choirs that came to sing. He first began decorating his house with a single strand of lights to delight his daughter. Each year, he added to the decorations, designing and building many of the displays by himself. He eventually asked GRU to install another light pole in his yard to accommodate the electricity needed by the decorations. His decorations were featured numerous times in newspapers and on television and a pilot once described to him how beautiful his lights looked from the sky. Richard and his family moved to acreage in Windsor, Florida in 1999 where he was able to add even more decorations to his collection. Several years ago, Richard began to scale back his decorations due to failing eyesight; however, he continued to put up what decorations he could and was actually going outside to turn his lights off for the evening when he had a stroke on December 18, 2020.
Before retiring, many locals will also remember Richard as manager of the Park Lane Cafeteria in the Gainesville Shopping Center on North Main Street in the 1960s, manager of Doug’s Dairy Twirl on NW 6th Street during the 1970s, and catering manager at Sonny’s BBQ until his retirement.
Richard was preceded in death by his mother, Wilma Smith, and father, Woodrow Clarence Campbell. Richard is survived by his daughter, Belinda Chapman, son-in-law, James Chapman, granddaughters Kellie Chapman and Madison Chapman, sisters Pauline Jeff and Linda Lyles of Gainesville and MarshaCampbell Kirby of Waynesville, NC, and nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Richard’s arrangements will be handled by Philip & Wiley Mortuary in Melrose. He will be buried at Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery in a private ceremony with a memorial service to be held at a later date. Flowers or donations are not requested by the family. All they ask is that when you put up a string of lights on your house at Christmastime, think of Richard and the enjoyment he received for over 50 years sharing his lights and decorations with you and your family.
The family would like to thank the caring staff at VITAS hospice for their kindness and compassion in Richard’s last days.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Clarence Richard Mason, please visit our floral store.