Nov 15, 1929 –
Lucille (“Lucy”) Winkler Mason, MD died August 13, 2022, at age 92
The youngest of five children, Lucy was born in Chicago, Illinois on November 15, 1929. Her parents instilled in her a belief that she could be anything she set her mind to, and from an early age, she showed her fierce independence and confidence . At age 12, Lucy was struck by the marvel and power of medicine and decided to be a doctor after her older sister was taken to the hospital with appendicitis and returned home healed up after having an appendectomy. Lucy graduated from Mundelein College and obtained her medical degree from Loyola Medical School in Chicago where she was one of only four women in her medical school class.
Lucy grew up during the Great Depression. She recalled putting cardboard in the bottom of her shoes when the soles wore out, but with her innate optimism she observed, “We were luckier than most.” We suspect this fueled her insatiable passion for fashionable footwear throughout her entire life.
Lucy with her future husband, Gene Mason, also a physician in Chicago, in a morgue. He enjoyed recounting their meeting, saying, “She was the best lookin’ thing in that place” and they eloped six weeks later. They settled in the Pacific Northwest where Lucy became the Everett Clinic’s first female physician. She also served simultaneously as Medical Director of Snohomish County Hospice for several years. Lucy raised four children in addition to working full time and, in later years, she opened her own medical practice continuing as a family practitioner and assisting with surgery at Providence Hospital.
Lucy was a gifted doctor with an uncanny intuition about what ailed her patients. She often told her children, “If you take the time to listen to your patients, they will often diagnose their own problem.” Lucy was honest, even if it meant delivering bad news. Her patients valued her medical advice, but they most remembered her no nonsense, pragmatic, wise counsel about things troubling them beyond a medical diagnosis. She could be unflinchingly candid but her patients listened and learned. When she retired in 1995, she was flooded with numerous, heartfelt thank yous from her patients telling Lucy how grateful they were to have had her as their doctor and for improving the quality of their lives through her sage advice.
In the 1970s she and Gene moved their family to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where Lucy served as the American embassy doctor. This trip fostered a lifelong love of travel in Lucy and proved to be a profoundly life-changing adventure for every member of the Mason family. Africa held a special place in Lucy’s heart. She and Gene returned to Africa multiple times, providing free medical care in rural, remote villages. Lucy was able to return to her beloved Africa as recently as 2018 to go on safari in Zambia with several members of her family. She described it as her favorite trip ever and impressed everyone with her ability at age 88 to clamber in and out of the Land Rover.
Lucy and Gene loved boating and took many trips through the San Juan and Gulf Islands. Lucy was passionate about crabbing. She taught the grandkids how to bait the traps and which crabs were keepers. It was typical to end a day’s cruise by tossing in the crab pot and then enjoying fresh cracked crab on the deck of the boat with cocktails or an iced cold beer. After Gene passed away, she took over as captain of their cabin cruiser. The family secret is that Lucy was more adept than Gene at piloting their boat. Lucy received more than a few astonished glances as she docked the boat. Other boaters were not used to seeing such a small statured woman of that generation expertly captaining a boat.
Lucy was a fabulous cook and loved to entertain. She hosted a legendary Thanksgiving brunch, a tradition she started because she did not have her Chicago family here and she wanted to have a large and lively gathering. Lucy appreciated spontaneous drop-ins by friends and family and always had more than enough of something delicious to throw on the grill, even when it was cool and rainy outside.
Lucy enjoyed taking her kids and guests out to water ski on Lake Stevens where she and Gene raised their family. Evenings would wind down on the deck with a fire in the fire pit overlooking the lake, a good glass of red wine, one of her many dogs curled up at her feet, and lots of laughs and storytelling.
Lucy was seldom without a book by her side. She delighted in words and was a voracious reader. She especially enjoyed murder mysteries, tales set in Africa, science fiction novels, and the Patrick O’Brien books and Flashman series.
After Gene passed away, Lucy recognized how important it was to have a homestead where the family could gather for generations to come. She purchased a cabin and acreage in Eastern Washington and had the foresight to set up a conservation easement to protect the property from future development and maintain it for future generations. This became one of her favorite places on earth. Lucy loved to tell stories and never let her age determine what she did or the new friendships she established. She had friends across generations and her friendships were immensely important to her. She was interesting, funny, irreverent and fun. Lucy enjoyed celebrations and knew how to have a good time. Fourth of July in the Mason household was a spirited holiday and it was not uncommon for Lucy to wake up one or more of her children by throwing a lit firecracker into their bedroom.
Lucy was adventuresome and never stopped wanting to learn new things. She approached new situations with wonder, curiosity, and a “can do” attitude. She picked up hitchhikers in the 1970s, cross country skied well into her 80s, and traveled on her own to adventurous locales such as Morocco. It is fitting that she adored Audrey Hepburn who said “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m Possible.'”
Lucy was the toughest woman we knew. She was so smart, fiercely independent and fearless, a trailblazer markedly ahead of her time in social attitudes and more. We will miss her flair for dressing and accessorizing. She was a fashionista and seldom went anywhere without one of her signature hats or scarves, or one of her pieces of unique handcrafted jewelry from her travels abroad.
Lucy loved her family and made us want to be around her. It seldom felt like an obligation to spend time with her but more so an opportunity to talk and learn. Lucy always had things to share: a great book she was reading, an observation about an election or politics, a place she would love to visit, an obscure fact about an animal, foodie advice such as the best way to sous vide a steak, make duck confit, know if a melon is ripe, cut an onion.
Lucy was predeceased by her husband, Gene in 1993. Grieving for Lucy are her children: Robert (Karen), Jeff (Caroline), Linda (Herb), Lori (Sean) and her 10 grandchildren: Winfield, Nick, Cameron, Elijah, Nora, Colin, Will, Wyatt, Christian and Colter, as well as many friends and colleagues.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to the staff at Aegis at Ravenna, Continuum Care Hospice, and Silver Pacific for their kindness, compassion and care for Lucy, particularly in her final days.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations in remembrance of Lucy be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for research or to hospice care in Snohomish County or in Seattle.
– WE WILL MISS HER DEARLY –
August 13, 2022
Published by The Herald (Everett) from Sep. 4 to Sep. 5, 2022.
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