- Raymond K. Mason
Raymond K. Mason has been an American business leader for nearly sixty years, almost 40 as head of the Charter Company. Charter was in the
Fortune 500for 11 years beginning in 1974 and ranked 61st in 1984. [ [http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500_archive/full/1984/ Fortune Magazine: Fortune 500 Archive-1984] ]
Raymond Knight Mason was born in
Jacksonville, Floridain 1927. Raymond and his wife, Minerva were married in 1948 and went to New York City for their honeymoon. They enjoyed New York and returned so often that in 1972, they purchased one of 75 co-ops at the Pierre, a 41-floor Hotel at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 61st Street that looks like a French chateau. The couple had three children: Raymond, Jr, Varina and Marcy; they celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2008. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/29/nyregion/29pierre.html New York Times: December 29, 2007-The Pierre, It Turns Out, Isn’t Ageless by Anthony Ramirez] ]
Raymond graduated from the
University of North Carolinain 1949 with a B.A. in Economics and immediately took over his family's business, the Mason Lumber Company.
Mason founded the
Charter Companythat same year and was the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer until 1987. The business was divided into three groups.
The oil business led Mason to meet "a lot of the world's interesting people." Mason recalled how his meetings with
King Faisalof Saudi Arabiain the early 1970s started a friendship with Gerald Ford. According to Mason, Faisal asked Mason to relay a message to President Richard Nixon. "I couldn't get in to see Nixon on account of Watergate," Mason said. However, he was able to get an appointment with the Vice President. "President Ford became a good friend of mine," he said.
He was a director of "Florida National Banks of Florida, Inc." from 1960 to 1974; in 1978, he became Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and controlling shareholder of "American Banks of Florida, Inc.", until their merger with "SouthTrust of Alabama, Inc." in 1998.
Raymond K. Mason has served as Vice Chairman of "Juniper Content Corporation" since January 2007 and as a Director of
Firestone Communications, which operates a Spanish children's television network, since July, 2003. That same year, he acquired a 35 percent interest in "Intrepid Capital Management Inc.", a Jacksonville Beachinvestment management firm. [http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/052205/bus_18785008.shtml Florida Times-Union: May 22, 2005-HE'S ALL ABOUT BUSINESS by Mark Basch] ] He also has an interest in AccentHealth, which provides medical information for consumers.Mr. Mason has been Chairman of "Rebuilding Services, Inc." (since July 1949), "Acorn Ventures, Inc." (since August 1998), "12K, LLC" (since December 2003), managing partner of "Middle East Ventures" and "Connemara Capital Company, LLC" (since December 2003), which are private investment companies with investments in real estate, media, financial services, oil and gas and transportation. [ [http://www.portfolio.com/resources/executive-profiles/Raymond-K-Mason-1238856 Portfolio.com: profiles of top executives-Raymond K. Mason] ]
Edward Ball was a powerful figure in business and politics in Florida for decades despite the fact that he never held public office and did not own the assets he controlled. He worked for and with his brother-in-law,
Alfred I. du Pontfor nine years before running the du Pont trust's businesses by himself for another 46 years. Mr. Ball was Raymond Mason's mentor, friend and confidant for decades. Raymond Mason, in turn, was claimed as a mentor by at least a dozen of his young executives at Charter.
Mason owned two unique properties, both of which were acquired through Edward Ball.
Epping Forest was the former estate of
Alfred I. du Pontand Jessie Ball du Pont, Edward’s sister.
Mason was good friends with President
Gerald Fordand hosted talks between Ford and Egyptian President Anwar Sadatin November, 1975 at Epping Forest, Mason's home. [ [http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/122806/met_visited.shtml Florida Times-Union: December 28, 2006-Ford visited the city numerous times by Jessie-Lynne Kerr] ] Ex-President Ford became a consultant to the Charter Company and attended the funeral of Charter president Jack T. Donnell in 1982
The Mason mansion, which the Masons still own, is a castle in
Ballynahinch, County Galway, Ireland, renowned for its salmon fishing, its 350-acre landscaped estate and 13,000 acres of woodcock hunting. [http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/052205/bum_18796393.shtml Florida Times-Union: May 22, 2005-The Charter Co. set a tremendous pace, all from Jacksonville by Karen Mathis] ]
Minerva Mason heads a mostly American syndicate that has owned Ballynahinch Castle since the late 1970's. It has been run as a hotel since the 1940s and was purchased by Edward Ball in 1957 for a fraction of its present value, which Mrs. Mason estimates at around $15 million.
Mrs. Mason stays about three months a year in a separate house on the castle grounds and admits that they spent "millions" on the castle's 28 guest rooms. They recently added an annex of 12 rooms. [ [http://www.irishside.com/tis/content/nyt/104.htm New York Times: June 20, 1999-The Cash of the Irish Is Talking in Castles by Alan Cowell] ]
The Eagle Foundation, Inc. is the entity used by the Masons for charitable donations. On December 7, 2006, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens received a $5 million gift to help "create a place of culture and beauty for all", according to museum founder Ninah Cummer's vision. Minerva's association with the museum goes back to the building's opening on November 11, 1961. She was a member of the advisory group to the board and served on the music committee.
The Masons also contributed to the complete renovation of the Swisher Theatre at
Jacksonville University, which re-opened in February, 2007. [ [http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/020707/neR_7754445.shtml Florida Times-Union: February 7, 2007-COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK: Swisher Theatre dedicated at Jacksonville University by John Carter] ]
*Raymond K. Mason and Virginia Harrison, "Confusion to the enemy : a biography of Edward Ball," University Press of Florida, 1976.
*Leon Odell Griffith, "Ed Ball, confusion to the enemy," Pineapple Press, 1975.
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