Major A. Mason, III, Ph.D, 79, son of Gordon and Nannie Mason Sr., was born on July 15, 1940 in McKeesport, PA. He departed this life on June 28, 2020 at UPMC Presbyterian. He was also preceded in death by his wife Ann Mason. He leaves behind his daughter, Arianna Mason; son, Major A. Mason, IV; brother, Gordon Mason, Jr. of White Oak, PA; sisters, Margaret Friend, Sylvia Carter, Lorraine Turner; nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Dr. Mason served as the Co-editor with Ralph Bangs, Ph.D., of The State of Black Youth in Pittsburgh, a 562-page book printed by the University of Pittsburgh for the Urban League of Pittsburgh, Inc. in 1997. It was very well received by former University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Marc Nordenberg who purchased 210 copies for the Board of Trustees. Dr. Mason also served as the Editor of the Youth Edition, which contains excerpts from the larger book told in story form. The 60-page Youth Edition is entitled "It's Just About Making the Right Choices."
Dr. Mason received both his Master's Degree in International Education and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. He served as a Musician in the US Navy during the Vietnam War era, playing the trumpet and flugelhorn. After his Honorable Discharge in 1966, he played with various well known jazz artists in New York City before returning to McKeesport.
In 1969, he founded and directed NOW Enterprises, Inc., (New Opportunity World) a nonprofit organization in McKeesport, which advocated for residents, and printed and published a semi-monthly newspaper for five years. After NOW Enterprises, Inc., Dr. Mason completed "Blacks in McKeesport: An Oral History Project," focusing on the lives of working class Blacks and interviewing older African Americans in the City of McKeesport. This was done in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Oral History Project. The tapes and transcripts of the 26 interviews and copies of the NOW Newspaper are now in the Pennsylvania Historical Society and Museum Commission in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh.
During his 22-year career in Institutional Research at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) Mason came to be considered an expert in the area of employment needs data. At CCAC from 1974 through 1996, he was responsible for producing many results of his institutional research including the college's first Master Plan, their first Student Development Master Plan, and many other studies. He gave presentations on employment needs data around Pittsburgh and at New York University.
Dr. Mason also served as an evaluator of the Pennsylvania Micro OIS (Occupational Information System). Many of his recommendations about that system were used to enhance the current system, which enables the Department of Labor to project where jobs will be in the State of Pennsylvania.
After CCAC, Dr. Mason went on his first study tour to Africa with the late well-known historian, Dr. Asa Hilliard, that time to Egypt. In 2001, Dr. Mason again went to Africa with Dr. Hilliard, this time to Ghana. Dr. Mason is a Life Member of the NAACP Pittsburgh Branch. He served as a Commissioner (on the Board) of the Program to Aid Citizen Enterprise (PACE) for six years. Recommended for inclusion in "Who's Who in Black America” in 1975, he was also inducted into the McKeesport High School Alumni Hall of Fame in 1998, the first in his graduating class to be so honored. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors of Bethany House Academy, which provides educational programs for youth in Northview Heights Estates in Pittsburgh and at the Healthy Village Learning Institute in McKeesport, and also on the Coordinating Council of the Black & White Reunion. In 2012, he served as the Volunteer Coordinator, with his wife, Ann, for the 97th Annual Convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) in Pittsburgh. They are members of the Dr. Edna McKenzie Branch of ASALH and the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society. In 2012 and 2013, Dr. Major Mason III and then his wife Ann gave presentations at ASALH’s 97th and 98th Conventions respectively on “Daisy Lampkin: Mentor, Activist Extraordinaire—50 Years Fighting for Freedom, Equality and Justice.” They are currently completing an illustrated chronology of Daisy Lampkin’s life and legacy, in keeping with his promise to the late Dr. Edna B. McKenzie to complete her work. In December 2012, he was instooled as a member of the Council of Elders for Bethany House Academy.
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Originally published July 09, 2020.