The concept of Jack Mason’s Tavern in Clifton Forge, Virginia was first envisioned by Martha Mason Atherholt II and Wendy Hudler in the fall of 2008. They chose the name in tribute to Martha’s grandfather, whom they admired for his many and varied accomplishments.
Jack Hiram Mason was born in 1916 and grew up in Norfolk, Virginia. As a teenager he achieved his Eagle Scout rank with the Boy Scouts of America and then finished his secondary education at Randolph-Macon Academy in Bedford, where he enjoyed pursuing his musical talents as the company bugler. After graduation in the early 30’s, he went to Washington & Lee in Lexington, where he spent a lot of time “enjoying life” with his Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity mates. It is reported that he even occasionally studied during those years. He was called back home before he was able to graduate, to help run the family manufacturing business when his father died. He kept the business sound through World War II in large part because of government contracts. In addition, during the war years he formed a small business with a neighbor to bring inexpensive items of necessity to his neighborhood because it was difficult for people to travel any distance from home to shop.
He also used his woodworking skills to produce handmade wooden toys in his garage, calling that business KidKraft Toys. This filled another need in the community. At the conclusion of the war he sold those businesses to the P.H. Rose Corporation who was forming Roses 5 & 10 Cent Stores. After the war years he emerged as a civic leader heading up various business and civic clubs. Among other hobbies he found time to write poetry and used his graphic arts talent to assist in advertising for the civic and business groups to which he belonged. Being musically inclined he took up the guitar during the post war years and loved to entertain family and friends by singing and playing the music of the 40’s. He was a golfer who maintained an 8 handicap for years, but still found time to enjoy a small yacht he kept moored near his home, and on which he loved to go out fishing on weekends.
Jack Mason was a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church and gave countless volunteer hours to his home parish and the Diocese of Southern Virginia. He and his wife, Dorothy, lived in the country outside Norfolk for a time, where he managed their farm as well as his business. In the 1960s Jack once again founded a new business, having sold his ownership in his father’s company. He saw the changes coming to the marketplace because of the then brand new concept of using computers in business. As a result he chose to redesign the ideas first developed by his father to better meet the emerging business market adjusting to the computer age.
A Renaissance man is defined as one who excels in a wide variety of subjects or fields. An Entrepreneur is defined as someone who creates value by offering a product or service, and by carving out a niche in the market that may not exist currently. Jack Mason was truly a Renaissance man and a highly successful Entrepreneur. He was happy, fun-loving, and would have enjoyed an evening of good food and beverage and the company of good friends in this community gathering place that bears his name. Why, you would probably have found him at one of the tables after a hearty meal playing a tight game of checkers or cribbage or shooting pool in the game room!