David T. Mason, retired appellate court judge, dies at 88
Pioneering former Cabinet member under Mandel suffered from cancer

By Bill McCauley
Sun Staff

November 17, 2003, 11:40 AM EST

David T. Mason, Maryland's first African-American appellate court judge, died Sunday of cancer at his home in Cross Keys. He was 88.

Mason was a trailblazer in other areas, too.

He was the first black to serve as a Cabinet member when former Maryland Gov. Marvin Mandel named him secretary of the Maryland Department of Human and Social Services. Mandel also appointed him to the Special Court of Appeals, Maryland's second-highest court, in 1974. Mason retired in 1983.

He also was chairman of the state parole board, an assistant state attorney general, rising to the rank of chief of the Criminal Division, where he was responsible for all appeals of state criminal cases.

Mason was a graduate of Frederick Douglas High School, where he was captain of the football team. He attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, served in the U.S. Army from 1942-46 and graduated from the University of Maryland law school. Mason was admitted to the bar in 1951.

He was active in the Fourth District Democratic Club, and he was a member of the Guardsmen, an influential black professional and social organization with chapters along the East Coast.

Mason is survived by his wife, Margaret, a daughter, Donna Peterson, and two grandchildren, all of the Baltimore.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday at the Centennial Courtroom at the University of Maryland School of Law at 500 W. Baltimore St.

Family hour will begin at 11 a.m., with the service at noon. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the University of Maryland-Baltimore's foundation for the Law School Scholarship Fund.

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