Virginia S. Mason

Virginia Schiller Mason of Saranac Lake passed away Monday, June 23, 2014.

Virginia was born in 1916 in Utica to Emeline Jones of Burke and Walter Schiller of Utica.

Virginia’s father, Walter, owned Schiller Motors in Utica, the first automobile dealership in New York state. Her mother, Emeline, was a published poet and an accomplished homemaker. From her earliest years, Virginia spent much of her time at a family home on Lake Street in Saranac Lake, to which they moved permanently in 1932.

Virginia attended the Utica Country Day School and, ultimately, received a bachelor’s degree from Empire State College of the State University of New York. Virginia also studied piano and voice, and was known for her vocal achievements. She performed in New York City with the Robert Malone Singers at Carnegie Hall and the Rockefeller Choristers at Radio City Music Hall. She also sang in numerous recitals from entertaining the troops with the USO during World War II to radio station WNBZ to the choir at St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake where Virginia was a featured soloist renowned for her exquisite soprano voice. As president of the American Music Club, she organized and appeared in many benefit concerts for philanthropic causes.

Over the years, Virginia was employed by Bristol Meyers in New York City; Hamilton College in Clinton; the Saranac Lake General Hospital and Deerwood Music Camp at Saranac Inn. She is remembered fondly by many for her years as Executive Secretary in St. Bernard’s Parish in Saranac Lake, first at St. Bernard’s Elementary School, then at St. Pius X High School and, finally, at St. Bernard’sRectory-her career at St. Bernard’s spanning more than 35 years.

In Saranac Lake, Virginia was a member of the St. Bernard’s Mother’s Club, the Catholic Daughters of America, the Parent-Teachers Association and the Business and Professional Women’s Society of which she was President in the 1980s. She was honored as Mother of the Year at St. Pius X High School in 1968.

Virginia loved to travel and visited many interesting places in North America and Europe. She even organized and chaperoned a student tour of France and Switzerland while at St. Pius X High School. She especially enjoyed the time she spent in Italy with her daughter Diana and son-in-law Timothy who lived in Rome and Venice while Tim studied art. Frequent trips to Montreal, Canada were also a favorite destination to visit her daughter Jean.

Virginia is survived by her two daughters: Dr. Jean Schiller Mason of Toronto, Canada and Saranac Lake and Diana Mason Fortune of Bloomingdale; and by her sons-in-law: Christopher Parkinson and Timothy Fortune; her very special “extended family:” Msgr. C.J. McAvoy, the Rev. James Kane, Margaret “Peggy” Campion, Sam Cerasaro and former husband, Richard Mason; three grandchildren: Jean-Francois St-Laurent and Jeremy Parkinson of Montreal, Canada, and Caroline Parkinson Wright of Charlotte, North Carolina; and two great-grandchildren: Raphael St-Laurent and MorganeMarie Emeline Wright.

Calling hours will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, July 2 at the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home in Saranac Lake. A Mass of Christian burial will take place at 1 p.m. Thursday, July 3 at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church in Saranac Lake, with Msgr. C. J. McAvoy presiding.

Friends wishing to remember Virginia may make memorial contributions to St. Bernard’s School or the Tri-Lakes Humane Society in care of the funeral home. Family and friends may also share their memories and sign the online guestbook at fortunekeoughfuneralhome.com.