Robert Mason Jr., a true servant leader whose passion for helping others will forever be remembered by those who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Robert’s wife of 41 years Sonja was interviewed for this blog, not only because she knows everything about Robert but because she too enjoys assisting those in need. Sonja likes to volunteer, and she and her family look forward to taking part in Mercy Care’s annual candlelight vigil. Sonja has one son, a daughter in law, three grandsons, and a granddaughter. The vigil is now the Robert L. Mason, Jr. Candlelight Memorial and honors those who died while homeless. Robert loved assisting with this event, so it’s a fitting tribute to his legacy. Sonja remembers a time when Robert had her read the names at the vigil at the last minute, and she discussed how much fun her grandchildren have handing out coats at the vigil.
Robert grew up in Dublin, Ga and served in the United States Air Force. He attended Salem State College and received a BS in Social Services. Robert believed in continuous education and enjoyed attending conferences. His role as the Director of Community Relations at Mercy Care was one facet that enabled him to touch the lives of those who needed assistance. He worked at Mercy Care for over twenty years. Robert was also actively involved at his church, Big Bethel AME and was described as, “a faithful and devoted servant of God.”
Sonja discussed Robert’s tendency to be the “go to guy” for those in his life from the clients he served to his nieces and nephews. He was the person you called if you or someone in your life needed help; he always connected individuals with the right resources. Sonja describes Robert as always kind and compassionate, a man who saw the best in others, even if that meant giving a person multiple chances. Sonja remarked about how many people Robert helped that she didn’t even know about until later.
Patricia Brooks, a Clinic Manager at Mercy Care discussed a time in which she and Robert worked together on the mobile coach. Robert wanted to see every person even though they did not have enough time that day. He made sure everyone received information to come into the clinic because he truly wanted to aid every person he could. Patricia remembers Robert as, “consistently cordial and a model leader”.
Tom Andrews, the President of Mercy Care and CEO of Saint Joseph’s Health System has fond memories of Robert. He remembers Robert as, “a very special man with a sincere dedication to the Mercy Care mission and those we serve. He had such a calm and thoughtful approach to everything he did and when you were with him you felt his genuine presence that made you feel connected. As everyone knows, Robert was a very proud individual, whether it was his work or his attire, he always strived to do good and look good! Robert was very helpful in guiding me when I first came to Mercy Care. He was so well respected by our partner agencies and helped me develop very important relationships. In many ways though, Robert was the go to person with many of those agencies because of the respect he had throughout our community”.
Robert was the type of coworker you listened to when he spoke, not because he was authoritative but because of his wisdom. Robert encouraged others to do more than expected, and he was very active on committees. Robert often spoke of his family, hometown, and love for cooking at work.
When asked about leaders that inspired Robert Sonja listed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, John Lewis, and President Obama. Sonja believes the most interesting job Robert ever had was when he worked on a Brinks security truck for six months. Those in attendance when Robert’s life was honored heard numerous stories about what an honorable man Robert was, one who always served others with a smile on his face. Those that believe servant leaders don’t exist, never met Robert Mason, Jr.
Sonja is currently enjoying retirement and desires to travel the country visiting national parks. She enjoys volunteering with her sorority and at Mercy Care, it helps to fulfill her. Mercy Care was an unlikely place for Sonja to volunteer however a bond formed between her and the organization. She speaks highly of the leadership team and friendships that have formed. Sonja also likes going to the theater, spending time with good friends, and nestling up with a good book. Time with her grandchildren makes her smile, and she hopes to convince them to travel cross country with her. She and her family traveled to the White House earlier this year, and she expressed how much they enjoyed the trip and how proud Robert would have been, especially with their desire to dress sharply.
Sonja encourages future leaders to:
Always… be honest, open, friendly, and prepared.
Follow… someone with integrity.
This year’s Robert L. Mason, Jr. Candlelight Memorial is tentatively scheduled for December 21st, 2016 and occurs at
424 Decatur St SE, Atlanta Ga
For more information about the event and Mercy Care visit: https://www.mercyatlanta.org/