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Shelter Island Reporter obituary: Francis Mason

Francis Mason

Francis Mason

Francis Lucien Mason, of Warrenton, Virginia and Shelter Island passed away on March 14, 2017. He was 93 years old.

Francis is survived by his wife of 59 years, Colette (nee Martin); their three children, Catherine (Carlo) Grigioni of Zurich, Claire (Yakir) Lubowsky of Warrenton and Patrick (Kristin) Mason of Marin County, California; his sister Nicole Grey of Oakland, California; and six grandchildren: Stephan and Claire Grigioni, Margot and Cassandra Lubowsky, and Henry and Philip Mason.

Francis was born in Le Havre, France in November 1923, the eldest son of Frank and Christiane Mason. Together with his brother, Christian ,and sister, Nicole, the family resettled in Santos, Brazil in 1934, where his father was in the coffee trading business.

Francis attended French boarding school in Sao Paolo, and traveled extensively throughout South America. He worked for Continental Grain, a French commodities company in Brazil, which in time moved him first to Paris and then, in February 1956, to New York City. The following year he met Colette, a young French-Swiss woman newly immigrated from Geneva, and they married a year later in Manhattan.

Francis’ financial acumen and fluency in four languages were noted in transactions by The Chase Manhattan Bank — earning him a job there — where he caught the eye of David Rockefeller, the future bank chairman then leading Chase’s major international expansion. Francis’ skills and sophistication impressed Mr. Rockefeller, his family said, who sent him with his family to run Chase’s initial European bank acquisition, Banque de Commerce in Brussels.

It would prove the first of a series of important international assignments Mr. Rockefeller gave Francis, culminating in his position as senior vice president with responsibility for managing the bank’s Latin American affairs and chairing its country risk committee, where Henry Kissinger was his long time adviser.

As part of his Chase portfolio, Francis also chaired the international restructuring committee renegotiating Venezuela’s obligations in the debt crisis of the late 1980s, an effort requiring his coordinating the various interests of over 500 banks globally with the activities of the IMF, all under watchful pressures of the U.S. secretaries of State and Treasury.

In that stressful time, his family said, Francis especially enjoyed the respite of his homes in Manhattan’s West Village and Shelter Island where he loved to garden and sail.

In retirement Francis added civic and other activities, serving as president of the Shelter Island Association, co-founder of the Shelter Island Educational Foundation and as a board member of the Shelter Island Yacht Club, among other responsibilities.

In 2003, Francis and Colette moved to Warrenton to be near Claire, Yak and their two then-young granddaughters. They loved their adopted hometown, embraced the community and made their home into the extended family’s mecca at holidays, just as Shelter Island had been before. That mecca is no longer the same without Francis, his family said, but the beautiful memories remain, of his life well lived and his devotion to family.

Rest in peace beloved husband, father, brother and grandaddy, his family said. Ta famille t’aime beaucoup.