NASA People

Center Snapshot: Ruth Mason
Ruth Mason, center snapshot Image above: Ruth Mason has added a new husband, riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle and hunting deer to the prime of her life. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Jim Hodges

At a point at which many would consider the prime of her life, Ruth Mason took stock and made some changes.

Her job: Mason went from working at the Badge and Pass office to the Video Services team at NASA Langley.

Her home life: She married Fred Mason, who works as an aerospace engineering technician equipment specialist Engineer at Langley, adding daughters Brittany (now 19) and Mackenzie (14) to Ruth's 17-year-old Samantha as family.

Her avocations: Mason went from the beach to the wild, taking a bow and some arrows along.

Even her mode of transportation: She frequently spends parts of her weekends on the back of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

"You have to try new things," Mason said. "You can't be scared to jump into another area. That's how I felt. It was an opportunity, a new challenge to see what's out here."

She was speaking of her job, then reflecting on her life.

Mason, who moved to Hampton Roads as a third-grader when her Army father was transferred to Fort Eustis, gravitated into banking for 15 years before moving on to Langley.

She has spent one year in video services.

"At Badge and Pass, it was almost the same atmosphere I'd had at banking," Mason said. "When this came along, I figured it would be a new opportunity to get out and about, to see people, to learn more about video and production.

"The majority of the people on the center do not know that video and multimedia services are available to them, basically at no cost." Her change in avocations is another story. Long a beach devote, she married a woodsman and hunter whose primary armament is a bow and arrow. Ruth has a bow of her own from which she launches arrows at a target 25-30 yards distant at their Gloucester home. Last fall, she finally shot at a deer in Pennsylvania.

"Hunting is something I'd never imagined myself doing," she said. "For myself, it's like anything else, when you start shooting at a target, when the real thing comes along, there is excitement. I love deer, but it is a sport, and there is an over-population of deer."

That population didn't shrink any after her first shot, which came on her first hunting trip, with husband Fred and some of his cousins on land near Johnstown, Pa.

"I did hit one, but it wasn't a good shot," Mason said. "He healed fine. Right before the arrow hit, he moved his foreleg back and the arrow glanced off. Just nicked him."

She'll try again this fall, after her own private harvest. Working in a garden at home is a part of her life that hasn't changed.

"Gardening relaxes me and is calming," Mason said. "When I see plants in the spring coming up, it's exciting. We have a big garden this year. I can stay out in the yard and garden all day and it's fulfilling to see what I've done."

And rewarding to see the jalapeno peppers, squash, cucumbers and tomatoes ahead.

It's as though she has her own garden at work. A long vine sits on the window-sill of her third-floor office, and plants are everywhere and serve as a reminder that some things don't change.

Among the vines are three "Telly Awards," honoring the AV&V/Video Services team's successes and reminding that change can be a good thing.

Getting her first deer this fall would support that, Mason believes. So would getting her own Harley-Davidson. She had ridden before Fred came along. After all, she has three older brothers.

"Maybe a three-wheeler," she added, describing the motorcycle of her future.

Like so much in life, it would offer another challenge.