James Dailey Mason, age 77, of Mankato, died Friday, April 12, 2013, at his home.
A Memorial Service will be held 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at Centenary United Methodist Church in Mankato, with Rev. Dean Wolf officiating. Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. on Monday at Mankato Mortuary and continues one hour prior to the service at the church on Tuesday. Memorials may be given to the donors choice.
James was born in Mankato on November 7, 1935, to Milton Donald and Marion (Dailey) Mason. He was educated in Mankato schools, the University of Texas (BBA), William Mitchell College of Law (JD), and National Judicial College at the University of Nevada. During his college years, he played the tuba with the University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band and the Symphonic Band. He also played trombone and tuba professionally when in Minnesota with the North Sturgis Street Six and the Spike Haskell Orchestra. He was a member of the Chi Phi Social Fraternity, and the Kappa Kappa Psi Band Fraternity.
In 1958, he married Marcia Olson in Marshall. Upon admittance to the Minnesota Bar in 1962, he served as a Special Assistant Attorney General to Walter F. Mondale from 1962-1965. He then returned to Mankato to form the first Mother-Son Law Partnership in Minnesota with his mother. He had a varied civil and criminal law practice, and served part-time as Village Attorney for the villages of Good Thunder and Madison Lake, Assistant City Attorney for the City of Mankato, Assistant County Attorney for Blue Earth County, and Attorney for the Mankato Charter Commission.
In 1976, he was elected to succeed Carl W. Peterson as a Blue Earth County Trial Judge, and was re-elected without opposition in 1982, 1988, 1994, and 2000. While a Judge, he was appointed by the Supreme Court to hear lawyer disciplinary cases and make recommendations. He retired in 2002, but continued as a member of the Minnesota Judicial Commission. In Mankato, he was active in a number of organizations including: the 6th District, Minnesota, and American Bar Associations, Mankato Rotary Club, Mankato Masonic Lodge, Toastmasters, American Legion, Mankato Paddling & Outings Club, and the Mankato Symphony Orchestra Board. He was a member of First Baptist church for nearly 50 years until its dissolution, when he became an active member of Centenary United Methodist Church.
Judge Mason loved the outdoors, particularly canoeing, kayaking, and camping. Over a 17 year period, he canoed or kayaked the Mississippi River from its source to near Bemidji, and from St. Cloud to St. Louis, Missouri. He also canoed or kayaked the Blue Earth, Minnesota, St. Croix, Wisconsin and Illinois rivers, and Lake Superior. He enjoyed camping with his family in the Boundary Waters and Quetico Park. After retirement, he and his wife took numerous trips to Glacier and Waterton Parks, Newfoundland, Alaska, Iceland, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, and Germany. Above all, he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and always looked forward to the times he could be with them.
Judge Mason is survived by his wife, Marcia; sons, James D. Jr. (Marlys) of Stillwater, Oklahoma and Olivier Milton of North Mankato; daughter, Laura K. Thompson (Jason) of Waconia; grandchildren, Cassandra, Alexander, Nicholas, and Anthony Mason, and Joshua, Benjamin, and Isaac Thompson; brother, Dr. Donald Mason (Elaine) of Novato, California; sister, Jean Caswell of Racine, Wisconsin; aunt, Barbara Ruud of Austin, Texas; and many cousins, nephews, and nieces.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, John M. (Jack); sister, Marilyn; and brother-in-law, Phillip Caswell.