It was at about the time of his 60th birthday and his reading of It's Later Than You Think that George Mason, head of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, made several fundamental changes in his will.
During World War II and for several years afterward, he had been quietly buying up land on both sides of the Au Sable River's south branch in northern Michigan, and he loved trout fishing along this 20-mile ribbon of beautiful, unspoiled countryside.
Now, Mason specified in his will that all this land, then worth well over $2 million, be left in perpetuity to the people of Michigan and in its natural state, with no trails, cabins, or other signs of civilization. He also willed $25,000 to the state's Department of Conservation for replacing the trout that he estimated he'd taken from the Au Sable over a lifetime of enjoyment.
Mason also wanted to provide a place for meditation and prayer that would inspire visitors of all denominations. Thus, a year or so before his death, he arranged with the state to have a small Norwegian log chapel erected in a virgin pine forest near Grayling, Michigan. For the dedication he composed a simple prayer and gave it to Nash-Kelvinator public relations director Fred Black, asking him to review it and make whatever changes were necessary to improve it. Black showed it to the staff. "I hope you agree that not one word should be changed," he said. "These are George Mason's own thoughts."
"A few months later, my son Jeffrey and I attended the dedication ceremony and joined with hundreds of others in reading Mason's simple 'Nature's Prayer'," recalls John A. Conde, a public relations rep with the company:
"Our heavenly Father, creator of all that is nature, we humbly come to you in the midst of nature's splendor to thank you that, as Americans, we are free to worship as we please, work as we please, and move about as we please to enjoy all that is nature -- its mountains, its hills, its valleys, its lakes, its streams, and the living things that dwell therein; we pray unto you that some day the world may be at peace and all men free to enjoy nature's abundance. We ask you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that we be guided to protect this priceless heritage which we, in America, are privileged to enjoy. Amen."
Nowhere was there any indication that the chapel and its grounds were the gifts of George Mason.
What else did reading this simple book inspire George Mason to do? Find out on the next page.
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