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Mason Parker Ziegler lived his 16 years of life to the fullest before it was tragically cut short on August 9, 2012, as a result of a motorcycle accident while vacationing with friends in Winchester Bay, Oregon.
He was born the eldest of two children to Kelly and Tami Ziegler in Port Angeles on February 23, 1996.
Mason and brother, Daelan, were heavily involved in motor sports starting at a very young age. Their closeness as brothers and innate competitive nature resulted in an instant propulsion to the top of their sport, pushing each other to greatness.
This formed a special bond between brothers and within the Ziegler family that could never be severed. This bond was very evident and attractive to people outside the family and was notable on many weekends at the Olympic Peninsula Motorcycle Club by the sideline support he received from his immediate and extended family. Attendance at many races included anyone from grandparents to cousins.
When family were asked to comment on Mason's life and character, the overwhelming theme was that he was caring, considerate and loving.
Mason's cousin Kori remembers his tenderness when she tells the story of a time she was baby-sitting the boys and became literally "attached" to Mason as they cuddled while she put the boys to bed:
"Mason's hand would always find his way into my hair and twirl the strands until he fell asleep. I would wake up in the morning and attempt to get up, only to be stopped by Mason's hand tangled in my hair so tight the only escape would be to rip some of my own hair out. Knowing this was going to be the result, I still gladly allowed him to twirl my hair every time."
Cousin Jeremy remembers, along with his kindheartedness, Mason had a powerful sense of adventure:
"Several years ago when Mason was much younger, he and I attended the fair. He had never ridden on the Zipper, so after I persuaded him to go with me and while waiting in line, he grabbed my arm and told me he was 'really nervous.' I told him to hold on tight and everything would be OK. As the ride completed its first flip, he released his grip on my arm and proclaimed, 'This is AWESOME!'"
All could agree "Mr. P," as some affectionately knew him, bettered every life he interacted with and will be so greatly missed.
Both family friends Tina Rush and Melissa Barr described the level of integrity of this young man. It is not every day you hear of a 16-year-old being characterized as having honor, moral strength, backbone, resolve, grit and willpower, along with a reputation of being cooperative, amazing, helpful and kind.
This remarkable young man will forever be remembered for times that he offered help "packing groceries, doing dishes and picking weeds."
What other 16-year-olds do you know who have the moral fiber and selflessness to consider others' feelings and be the first to congratulate the second- and third-place finishers in a race that he himself just won?
Tina recalls that like all kids his age, he and her children occasionally found themselves in trouble for juvenile decisions. She knew that Mason would be the first to come out with the truth.
It was truly touching and humbling to read the sheer number of posts people made on Mason's Facebook account and the loving comments left by his friends. Many encouraged Mason to "tear it up in heaven" and were "thankful for all the times he enriched my life and those around him."
Mason was extremely well-liked as a student at Port Angeles High School by classmates and faculty alike. Mr. John Gallagher (one of Mason's teachers) gave a summation of Mason as a student.
As a testament to Mason's character, two additional teachers requested the chance to eulogize Mason. The additional teachers both echoed and confirmed all sentiments expressed by all who knew him.
Mr. Gallagher wrote this: "Mason was the student every teacher wants to have in class. He never seemed to have a bad day. No matter how hard or easy the subject, how interesting or boring the material, he was always an active participant in class. And he did it all with a smile. Mason was nice to everyone. Everyone. It didn't matter what your interests were, what clique you did or didn't belong to, Mason treated everyone the same with a smile and an invitation to friendship. He truly cared about everyone around him.
"School was important to Mason. He really wanted to make the Honor Roll last year, and he worked as hard as he could to make sure he did. He would recalculate his GPA every day to track his progress. He set a goal and he achieved it. He finished sophomore year on the Port Angeles High School Honor Roll.
"We will never forget all of Mason's stories about motocross. He has been described as the best rider of his age group in Port Angeles. He was very talented and proud but at the same time very humble.
"There is much we will never forget about Mason. He will be missed at Port Angeles High School. We will not be the same without him."
Mason's friends and family are planning a celebration of life for him on Saturday, August 25, 2012. It will be located at Independent Bible Church at 116 East Ahlvers Road, Port Angeles, WA 98362. The service will start at 10 a.m., with a reception time to follow, also at the church's Family Life Center.
The family is requesting that donations be made, in lieu of flowers, to the Mason Ziegler Fund at Strait-View Credit Union, located at 220 South Lincoln Street, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
Mason Ziegler's influence on this world and the people in it will never be forgotten. All who have crossed paths with Mason are forever changed at his loss of life.
It was expressed so well by a friend of Mason's: "It is hard to think of him in the past because he was so strong in the present."
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Aug. 22, 2012