April 1971 – William Mason in his office, signs a petition to incorporate the city of Irvine. With him, from left, David Smith, Betsy Cousins, C. Barr Fletcher and John Burton.

A man, a plan, and a city

William Mason was instrumental in creating a new kind of city, with a Master Plan to guide it

by TOM BERG

William Mason built two of his own homes in his spare time. He taught civil engineering at the University of Washington, and served as a Boy Scout leader. Then he helped create the city of Irvine.

Preserving the outdoors

Mason became president of Irvine Company in 1966.

As a youth leader, he understood the importance of the outdoors.

So under his leadership, the company created a three-mile-long ocean marine reserve. It preserved the San Joaquin Marsh. And it donated 340 acres to the county for a huge regional park near UC Irvine.

“The best in man will triumph,” Mason liked to say, and his life was proof.

According to Al Trevino, one of Irvine Company’s original planners, Mason helped create the Irvine Master Plan. And he helped create the city of Irvine itself – even as Santa Ana tried to annex the land in a last-minute land grab.

Mason Park

When Mason died in 1973, he was eulogized in dozens of newspapers, in the halls of the state Capitol, and on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

“He was more than our president,” said Ray Watson, his successor as Irvine Company president. “He was our guiding light. He gave us a sense of mission, to build better places for people.”

More than 500 people gathered for Mason’s memorial services, and a few weeks later, a new regional park opened, named in his honor: William Mason Regional Park.