Tributes for former publican
By JULIA ILES
ESTHER Mason thinks her husband Garry stayed alive just long enough to be her Valentine one more time.
But by the afternoon of February 14 he couldn't hang on any longer, and the beloved father of two, former publican and all-round good guy died, aged 56.
"I can't think of any one who had a bad word to say about him," Esther said.
"He was Papa-Gaz to the four grandchildren who adored him."
For more than a decade Garry Mason was the publican of two Clarence Valley hotels, the Blue Goose and the Village Green.
"He was a really special man, and I am not saying that because he was my husband, but if someone had a million dollars or a dollar, he treated everyone the same," she said.
Esther described Garry as 'quiet and unassuming', but one of the original publicans who was popular. He liked to have fun with the patrons as well as having an occasional drink with them.
He could also spot an under-age drinker a mile away, she said.
Five months ago Mr Mason was struck down with an aggressive form of cancer, which is related to asbestos exposure.
But with his background in real estate and hospitality, it remains a mystery as to how he became affected.
"We tried to fight it with chemotherapy but it was too aggressive, the thing is he never worked in the building industry and we were never the type of people to fix things ourselves, we didn't even own a hammer," Esther said.
The Mason's 36-year-old love story began when Esther went to hear her brother's band at a venue in Casino.
"He (Garry) came up to one of my friends and asked who I was, we were married in Casino in 1970, his parents came from Kyogle and still live there, they are lovely, gentle people," Esther said.
Garry also served in the Royal Australian Air Force during the time of the Vietnam War, but was based in Australia.
Their two children each have two sons, David and his wife Brenda have Oliver and Domanic, while their daughter Jody and her husband Troy have Riley and Lewis.
After serving as a delegate for the Australian Hotels Association, Garry and Esther started Country Hospitality Services, a training company for the hotel industry, and decided to establish a sub-branch in Grafton.
"We just loved Grafton; even now, friends there have given me such support."
Garry's funeral is today at the St John's Anglican Church, Evans Head, at 11am.