Even if you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Bill Mason personally, you have surely walked by his apartment door and seen a big brown bear sitting outside. It’s a very festive bear, dressing up in costume for each holiday and special occasion throughout the year.
“My impression is people know me as “the owner of the bear” instead of Bill Mason,” he said. “My daughter, Peggy, is the person who decides what costume he will wear and when to change it.”
He says displaying the bear started out as a Christmas family tradition some thirty years ago, and when he moved into Montereau he wanted to keep the tradition alive. It’s something that brings a smile to his neighbors’ faces as they walk by his apartment.
In fact, Dr. Mason is much more than the owner of the bear! He’s impacted the lives of thousands of Tulsans and continues to do so on a daily basis.
As a pastor at Asbury United Methodist church for 28 years, Dr. Mason was a part of many happy moments in the lives of his congregation members; likewise, he helped them through some very tough times, as well. When he moved to Tulsa from Oklahoma City in 1964 to become the pastor at Asbury, the church had 115 members, and when he left, the congregation was almost 6,000 people strong!
“I enjoyed the people I associated with at Asbury – we have some of the very finest people, and what I mean by finest is they are humble people,” he said. “They are born again, spirit-filled, Christian people. They have provided leadership over the years that a congregation that is growing needs.”
Dr. Mason spent 12 years in business before he felt the call to become a pastor. He attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and soon after graduating was appointed to become the pastor at Asbury. Although a self-proclaimed “Oklahoma City Boy”, he was excited to make the move to Tulsa.
The church first met at Francis Scott Key Elementary School and under Dr. Mason’s leadership, the congregation quickly outgrew the space and broke ground on a building near 58th and Sheridan Road. It’s there where Dr. Mason dedicated years of service leading the church and making a difference in the community.
After nearly three decades he decided it was time to retire in 1993. “I served the church for over 28 years. I knew I was no longer healthy enough to do the work, and I thought a younger person should be sent to follow me. It all worked out as it should.”
Dr. Mason is still actively involved at Asbury and proud of the years he spent as lead pastor of such a magnificent church. So next time you walk by his door and get a giggle out of his bear’s latest wacky costume, take the time to think about the man behind the bear – the man who has dedicated his life to the Lord and bringing happiness to others’ lives.
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