August 13, 1921 - November 26, 2018 Longtime Los Altos resident, Mason Clark, passed away peacefully on November 26, 2018 at age 97 from natural causes. Mason will be dearly missed by all who knew him. He was born in Ladysmith, Wisconsin on August 13, 1921. Mason’s family moved to Park Ridge, Illinois in 1927 so his father, Lester, could find work as a carpenter in the Chicago-area building boom. Mason graduated from Maine Township High School and the associated two-year junior college. As a teenager in high school he became a licensed amateur radio operator, W9JGM, which led to his interest in electronics. While Mason was an engineering student at Maine Township Junior College, he was served a draft notice in July 1942. He joined the Navy radio school in Chicago with the third-class petty officer rank the school guaranteed.
More radio training followed at Texas A&M and Corpus Christi. Mason joined Torpedo Squadron VT4 in January 1944 at Quonset Point, Rhode Island. During WWII he served as a VT4 radio and radar technician on the aircraft carriers USS Ranger, USS Bunker Hill, and USS Essex. VT4 suffered many pilot losses during the war and both the Bunker Hill and Essex were hit by kamikazes.
After WWII ended Mason used the GI Bill to pursue graduate degrees in electrical engineering and physics at Northwestern University in Chicago. After graduation he became one of the pioneering engineers at Bell Laboratories who developed power transistors. That innovative invention kickstarted the semiconductor industry and led to the development of microprocessors and the age of digital computing. The Clark family moved West in 1957 and Mason worked for several pioneering electronics companies in Southern California and Silicon Valley including Pacific Semiconductors, Hewlett-Packard, and Microwave Associates. In retirement Mason enjoyed a variety of interesting physical and intellectual pursuits including playing badminton and the complex board game of Go, self publishing books on various topics, studying and writing about economics, and exploring the fascinating history and literature of Turkey. He married Mary Deacon in Quincy, Massachusetts shortly after WWII ended in 1945. They had two sons: James born in 1948 in Park Ridge, Illinois; and Thomas born in 1958 in Torrence, California. Mason is survived by his son Thomas Clark in Los Altos; granddaughter Janet Clark and great-grandson Alex in Salt Lake City, Utah; and nephews Paul Clark and Peter Clark and their families in Florida. Mason was predeceased by his wife Mary Clark, son James Clark, brother Loren Clark, and nephew John Clark. A private family gathering to remember Mason and celebrate his remarkable life will occur at a future date.