Although unusual, George Mason's anonymous creation of a public chapel in Michigan was quite in character. Mason insisted on anonymity in his innumerable private philanthropic projects.
For example, about three years after World War II, he had become interested in helping the blind -- and not just by giving money to the various concerned organizations. He learned of a small school in Detroit that trained Dobermans for use as guide dogs. Called Path-Finder Dogs for the Blind, it was loosely organized and little known.
Mason gave his PR chief, Fred Black, the enormous task of seeking financial support for the school, which first had to be restructured according to state law, with a staff, a board of directors, and a building to house the blind boarding students. There were myriad other problems to be solved, but now by people who knew far more about promoting automobiles and refrigerators than running a school.
Black became president of Path-Finder and John Conde was named secretary and business manager. "We worked more than four years to build and strengthen it, ultimately raising funds to provide guide dogs for nearly 300 students," Conde recalls. Path-Finder then merged with the Leader Dog League of Rochester, Michigan.
"Another of our boss's projects was what we called 'Mason's Coffee Lift'," says Conde. In the late 1940s, a decade after succeeding company founder Charles W. Nash as president, Mason learned that coffee was one of the scarcest of life's pleasures in the new war-torn state of West Germany.
Again calling on his public relations staff, he arranged to send packages of coffee to Lutheran churches throughout the country. It was all done with no public mention and little, if any, fanfare among Nash-Kelvinator executives and employees, most of whom didn't know about this further expression of Mason's generosity until after his death.
In addition to all this philanthropy, reading It's Later Than You Think sparked George Mason's creativity. Learn about the results on the next page.
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