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George Mason, 86, director of nursing, hospice


George William Mason, a nurse and hospital administrator who helped establish a Baltimore hospice, died Monday of respiratory illness at Glen Meadows Retirement Community in Glen Arm. He was 86.

After a lengthy career at the former Baltimore City Hospitals, Church Hospital and Dundalk Medical Center, he became a founder of Joseph Richey Hospice on North Eutaw Street.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, where he graduated from a nursing school in 1939, he worked for a year at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital. He was a Marine Corps civilian nurse in Northern Ireland from 1940 to 1942, when he enlisted in the Navy as a pharmacist's mate and served in the Pacific.

After earning his bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing administration from Boston University, he moved to Baltimore in 1950. For the next decade, he was a nursing administrator for the former Maryland Department of Mental Hygiene.

In 1960, he was named director of nursing services at City Hospitals on Eastern Avenue, and six years later became director of nursing at Church Home and Hospital at Broadway and Fayette Street. In 1974, he was named vice president. When the hospital established the Dundalk Medical Center in 1977, he became its first president.

Retiring in 1984, he was recruited to be the first executive director of Joseph Richey House. He held the volunteer post for several years.

"He pulled it up by his two hands," said Sarah Larrabee, a friend of many years from Glen Arm. "He started at the bottom with a rowhouse and formed out of it a going institution. It was a place that took care of dying people with no money and no place to go. Hospice was the love of his life."

"At first, they only had three patients," said Ruth Eger, the hospice's executive director. "I was awed by his dedication and belief. He had such a dream."

Services were held Wednesday.

He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, the former Maureen Isabella Neely; a brother, Reginald Mason of Amesbury, Mass.; and a sister, Wilamena Bartlett of Newburyport, Mass.

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