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Martha Mason

LATTIMORE - Ms. Martha Mason, who lived at 204 Oak Drive in Lattimore, died shortly after dawn on Monday, May 4, 2009, one month shy of her 72nd birthday.
Stricken with polio in the epidemic of 1948, she had lived 61 years in an iron lung, longer than any other polio survivor in the world.
Following a year of hospitalization after she was stricken, she returned to her parents' home. Her doctors told her and her parents that she could not possibly live a year, if that long. The late C.C. Padgett, principal of the Lattimore Schools, organized a home schooling program for her. She graduated from Lattimore High School in 1956, first in her class. She graduated from Gardner-Webb College (now Gardner-Webb University) in 1958, first in her class. In 1960, she graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University, first in the first class to graduate from the University's Winston-Salem campus. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Her book, "Breath: Life in the Rhythm of an Iron Lung", was published to critical acclaim in 2003. In September of that year, Wake Forest University honored her with its Pro Humanitate Award. The following year, Gardner-Webb University awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. She was a member of Shelby Rotary Club and had been awarded its Paul Harris Fellowship.
She is survived by two longtime and devoted caregivers, Ginger Justice and Melissa Boheler.
Memorial Service: Wednesday, May 6, 3 p.m., Lattimore Baptist Church, where she was a lifelong member
Visitation: Friends will be greeted in the fellowship hall of the church, one hour before the service.
Burial: Pleasant Ridge Baptist Church Cemetery, where she will be laid to rest with her parents, Willard and Euphra Ramsey Mason; and her brother, Gaston Owen Mason, who died of complications from polio the day Martha was stricken in 1948
Memorials: Martha Mason Scholarship Fund, c/o Gardner-Webb University, P.O. Box 997, Boiling Springs, NC 28017; or Lattimore Baptist Church, P.O. Box 188, Lattimore, NC 28089
Funeral home: Cecil M. Burton Funeral Home and Crematory
Online guest registry: www.cecilmburtonfuneralhome.com
Published in Shelby Star from May 4 to May 7, 2009
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