By Nicole Hamilton
Enquirer Staff Writer
COVINGTON - One of Bobby G. Mason's favorite things to say was: "To be a friend, you must show yourself friendly."
For several members of his extended family, that meant more than a kind word or gift. It meant opening up his home to them, and caring for them as his own - providing them shelter, food and clothing.
"He was selfless," said his niece, Darla Griffin of Latonia. "He took in his three nieces and a nephew and made sure that all their needs were met. Being the sixth of 19 children, he knew what it was like to struggle - to need."
Mr. Mason, the retired director of operations of Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky, died Saturday at his Covington home of cancer. He was 71.
Mr. Mason, a native of Orlando, Ky., in Rockcastle County, made an impact as a director at TANK. His niece said that someday next week, all TANK buses will stop for a one-minute observance in honor of Mr. Mason.
"Bob probably wouldn't like that the buses will be one minute late, but that's the least we can do for him. If there was ever a model employee at TANK it would be Bob," said TANK's former general manager Mark Donaghy of Hebron, who worked with Mr. Mason for 23 years.
Mr. Mason moved to Northern Kentucky about 1957 and began working for the Green Line (the private company that preceded TANK), where he operated an electric trolley.
"He was the last active TANK employee to have run an electric trolley," said Mr. Donaghy.
He became a dispatcher in 1970 and director of operations in 1990.
"He had a heart of gold, and was like a father to many," said Mr. Donaghy, who remembered that once when Mr. Mason saw a child wandering busy Alexandria Pike alone, he parked the bus in the street to stop traffic and led the child safely home. He also stopped the bus for homeless people and took them to restaurants.
"He was always ready to give someone a second chance, " said Mr. Donaghy.
Mr. Mason officially retired in 1996 but continued to work part time until October 2003, when he became ill.
He was a member of the Cincinnati Transit Historical Association and an executive board member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 628.
Besides his niece, survivors include his stepmother, Gladys Mason of Orlando, Ky.; a son, Karl B. Mason of Latonia; four daughters, Delores A. Mullins of Latonia, Gail Hurst of Bronston, Sarah Lynn Mason of Covington and Tina Waterman-Rothfuss of Latonia; six brothers, Frank, David, Paul and George Mason Jr., all of Orlando, Ky., Ronnie of Berea and Jimmy of Chipley, Fla.; three sisters, Dorothy Rader, Mary Ann Vanzant and Karen Morgan, all of Orlando, Ky.; 14 grandchildren; three adopted nieces, Dorothy Smith of Mount Vernon, Carol Price of Felicity and Sue Mills of Bethel; and an adopted nephew, Charles Murphy of London, Ky..
Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Swindler-Currin Funeral Home, 214 W. Southern Ave., Latonia..
Service will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Brush Creek Holiness Church, Orlando.
Burial will be in Briarfield Cemetery, Orlando.
Memorials can be made to St. Elizabeth Hospice, 401 E. 20th St., Covington, 41014-9988.
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