SALLY ANNE MASON
August 7, 1970 to June 12, 2016
Crazy, mad love
Sally Anne Mason—a Southern charmer whose crazy, mad love for Florida State Football was surpassed only by her crazy, mad love for her adored family—died at home, in Castle Pines, CO, on June 12, 2016.
She was just 45.
Among those at her side at the end: her husband of 22 years, George Mason; daughter Lily, 16, and son Christopher, 13. Also in attendance, her mother, Nancy Simmons, and brother Scott.
Words—something Sally cherished as a librarian, avid reader, and the heart and soul of wit—can never fill the massive void she leaves in the world. Only the sweet memories held in perfect reflection by those she knew and loved can even begin to weave a lasting image of her vitality, humor and fierce loyalty.
She had a spring in her step
She had a spring in her step, this lively mother of two, often moving to the beat of her favorite 90’s music (Nirvana, Green Day, Foo Fighters) or while listening to one of daughter Lily’s modern gems (Iyaz, Pink, Justin Timberlake)—not to mention son Christopher’s favorite, Twenty One Pilots.
“Never too old to be cool” describes Sally perfectly, according to her husband George, a United Airlines pilot, who often swept his wanna-be-beach-bum wife off to Hawaii. Hot to trot in shorts and a tank top, ever ready to don a bikini and plunge into the waves, she loved Waikiki so much that she asked that her ashes be scattered, in the sea, off the coast—which they were on June 23.
The second of two children born to Billy Earl and Nancy Simmons, Sally came into the world in Oklahoma City, OK, on August 7, 1970. Extraordinarily close to her brother Scott, she grew up near Atlanta, GA and attended Brookwood High School in Snellville. She earned top grades and played the French horn and clarinet in the marching band, graduating in 1988.
FSU spirit like a religious conversion
But it was at Florida State University where Sally’s FSU Football spirit invaded her being with the force of a religious conversion. After graduating with a BS in Sociology, in 1992, her devotion to all things FSU only deepened. Miss an alumni event? A homecoming game? She would have to be anesthetized, chained to a post, and she would still find a way to be there.
Then there was George Mason, a tall, handsome, dark-haired, ex-Navy pilot, 12 years her senior. They met when Sally—a Human Resources Manager for Private Jet Expeditions in Atlanta—gave new-hire pilots a briefing on company benefits.
Recalling the seismic earthquake of his instant attraction, George said, “I fell in love.” But when Sally tried to give away two Atlanta Braves tickets she couldn’t use, he accepted them and upped and invited her to the game. She declined. She already had a boyfriend.
Refusing to give up, he kept finding reasons to stop by her desk and ask a benefits question, followed by a request for a date. The answer was always the same. No.
“Then, at a company function, I talked her into lunch, and then several dinners. But we always had to have her best friend, Christy Sawyer, along as a chaperon. I was too old and untrustworthy.”
Six months later, on December 11th, 1993, they married at an old, antebellum home in Roswell, GA. “Best day of my life until our kids were born,” George said. “Then it was a three-way tie.”
Sassy, no-nonsense manner
He loved how funny she was, quick on the draw with quips, this lanky, 5-foot-8 young woman with the straight blonde bob, flawless complexion and sassy, no-nonsense manner. Despite a miniscule, almost charming, backward slant of her teeth, her smile was infectious, especially when she lavished it on children and animals.
When she told George that she had always wanted braces, he quipped: “That was your parents’ responsibility, not mine.”
Such remarks triggered her inimitable sarcasm, “Seriously?”
For their honeymoon, they took an eight-day Caribbean cruise from Miami to Montego Bay, Cozumel and Grand Cayman. But when Sally got violently seasick, George dined alone in the ship’s elegant dining room for two nights. “Everyone thought I was lying about being married.”
From 1996 to 1999, they lived in Greenwood Village, Colorado, and then moved to a spacious, new home in Castle Pines, CO. Sally picked out everything: clean, modern, leather, neutral paint. She especially liked the view from the back patio and enjoyed a dip in the hot tub. Rather than ski in winter, she preferred to bundle up in jeans, a bulky sweater and Ugg boots and sit by the fire with a glass of white wine.
Chose kids over a career
The Masons first child, Lily, who Sally dubbed “Sweet Pea,” came along on July 9, 1999; their second, Christopher, who she called “Christopher Lulu,” on April 10, 2003. Chris was always her “sweet boy.”
After the couple moved to Colorado, Sally got a job at Gart Sports in Denver, but she gave up working to stay home with the kids.
It was all super fun, never an issue, driving Lily to soccer and volleyball; Chris to volleyball and archery. Lily also played the piano and violin. Chris sang in the choir. Family meals were sacrosanct, a balance of protein, veggies and starch. Always. Then dessert.Although the kids had chores—cleaning their rooms, their bathroom, taking out the trash—Sally “was all bark and no bite,” her husband said. She ended up cleaning the bathroom herself.
She kept a strict eye on the kids’ moral compass. “Do what’s right,” she would say, adding, “It’s not who’s right, but what.” Easy going by nature, Sally wouldn’t hesitate to put anyone in their place if they were out of line.
And then there was the family dog, Rockie, a great, big, teddy-bear of a Newfoundland. Sally “loved on Rockie Boo-Boo”, as she called the dog, rubbing his big belly, giving him treats, and taking him on long hikes in the open space behind the house.
Swimming with dolphins
Sally was all about having fun, her preferred location for any celebration was the beach, any beach, but especially Hawaii. Kona on the lava-lined western coast of the big island was one of her favorites, a place where she could admire the huge sea turtles and envy the dolphins.
Sally also knew how to have a good time, dependably the life of the party, although her irreverence and sassy attitude sometimes got her in trouble with people who didn’t know her.
Although she dropped her Georgia drawl somewhere between FSU and Colorado, she always included, “Luv Ya!” in a funny nasal way when bidding people adieu.
If George reminded her that she forgot to do something, like replace the cap on the toothpaste, she’d reply, “It’s not a competition.” A few days later, she would complain the toothpaste was all dried up.
A second calling
After Chris started school, in 2008, Sally went to work as a Teacher’s Assistant at Redstone Elementary. A few years later she accepted a position as the school librarian. It was like a second calling. Her co-workers invigorated her and the children delighted her, especially the younger ones, the kindergarteners.
An inveterate reader, rarely without her Kindle, she escaped in novels about love; also TV, any “Housewifes of…” and “Property Brothers”. She considered politics a waste of time.
Sally’s best friend Christy Sawyer, the former “chaperone” for Sally and George’s first dates, lives in Atlanta. The two would do yearly girls-only trips to far off places such as Cancun and the Dominican Republic. Sometimes, just a weekend getaway to Atlanta, Denver or Colorado Springs.
There is no question about one thing, Sally’s entire universe revolved around her husband and children, their times together, their celebrations, their vacations. Their happiness and wellbeing were all that mattered to her. And Sally was life itself to them.
Baptized a Protestant just ten years ago, she found the perfect answer to her deep spiritual yearning. Her favorite Bible verse was John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Sally is survived by her husband George Mason, daughter Lily and son Christopher of Castle Pines, CO; her mother, Nancy Simmons of Highlands Ranch, CO; her father, Billy Earl Simmons of Georgetown, TX, and brother, Scott Andrew Simmons of San Mateo, CA.
Contributions may be made, in the name of Sally Anne Mason, to any Children’s Cancer Research Center.
A Memorial will take place on July 12th, 7—9 pm, at Valor Christian High School, 3775 Grace Blvd, Highlands Ranch, CO, 80126.