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John Mason: A revered teacher, a favourite colleague & a father to look up to & turn to

Memories and anecdotes shared by ex-students, colleagues and family members at burial ceremony

Nitin Waghela | Published 20.02.23, 09:13 PM
Beloved teacher John Anthony Mason's burial service in progress on Monday at St James' Church

Beloved teacher John Anthony Mason's burial service in progress on Monday at St James' Church

All images by Amit Datta/My Kolkata

Pride, respect and adoration for one man resonated at St. James’ Church, the venue for the burial service of legendary teacher John Anthony Mason, on Monday, February 20.

Remembering his father, who passed away in a Chennai hospital on February 17, Neel Mason said: “Dad was always somebody who stuck to what he thought was right, even if it made him unpopular or got him into trouble. I don't think he could live with doing something he knew was not right, which made his decisions easy."

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Dia Mason, too, shared some cherished memories of her father. “My favourite association with Dad are his gigantic, clean and white hankies. To me, they are and will always be a sheet of comfort and safety. They were soft and smelled just like him and were offered to me when I needed soothing or grooming."

The Mason family at the ceremony

The Mason family at the ceremony

Mason, who had been part of the faculty at La Martiniere for Boys (LMB), Kolkata; St. James’ School, Kolkata; Doon School, Dehradun; and Modern High School, Dubai; was known for providing his students and colleagues with the right outlook to life.

D.L. Bloud, who was a teacher at St. James’, shared an anecdote that illustrated Mason’s quiet leadership. "I remember teachers were not allowed to sit while teaching the boys and one day feeling exhausted in the last period I sat on the chair and Mason, while walking down the corridor, saw me sitting. He made a silent gesture to stand up as he didn't want to insult me while the class was on." Bloud went on to become principal of St. James’ after Mason.

D.L. Bloud, who succeded Mason as the principal of St. James’ School, shares his memories of the legendary teacher

D.L. Bloud, who succeded Mason as the principal of St. James’ School, shares his memories of the legendary teacher

Mason’s calm demeanour and his cheerfulness were such that even while going through surgery in Chennai, he would praise the doctors attending him and thank the patience of publishers with whom he was working on two books, Bloud said.

For his students, Mason was a guiding star. Abhenav Khettry, a 2003 alumnus of Doon School, Dehradun, said, "The biggest impact during his tenure at Doon School was that he absolutely crushed bullying. From being fearful of our seniors and then experiencing camaraderie with them, it was unimaginable."

Another 2003 Doon School alumnus, Siddharth Sethia, said: "The things students at St.James’ or at La Martiniere would say is exactly what we could say about him. The consistency in staying true to oneself on a day-to-day basis is what he represented."

(L-R) Siddharth Sethia and Abhenav Khettry, former students of Mason

(L-R) Siddharth Sethia and Abhenav Khettry, former students of Mason

Sethia reminisced about his last interaction with Mason. "I met him on a flight and had his attention for two hours, during which he enquired about what I was doing in life. Having said that I was into shipping, he discussed various aspects of the industry like problems in channel and what sizes of boats could possibly come to a port in Kolkata. Left speechless by his awareness, I realised how he was in the habit of utilising his time through non-stop learning."

Inside St James' Church during the service

Inside St James' Church during the service

As the burial service went on, the towering presence of Mason could be felt alongside his dedication to doing right and imparting high moral values to transform young lives for the betterment of society.

Last updated on 20.02.23, 10:56 PM
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