Members of the Grinnell Fire Department carry Mason Sieck’s casket under the large American Flag supported across Spring Street near the fire station by two of the department’s ladder trucks following his funeral in the department’s 1913 American LaFrance fire engine, ‘Old Betsy.’
by J.O. Parker
Mason Sieck loved riding in a red fire engine and hanging around the Grinnell Fire Department. In fact, the 7-year-old had his own turnout gear with boots and a fire helmet with his name on it.
“When the pager went off, he would have his full set of gear on before I could get my shoes on,” said Mason’s dad, Curtis, who volunteers with the GFD. “It didn’t matter what the page was for, he wanted to help people.”
Mason comes from a long-line of fireman. His grandpa, Scott Sieck, and two great uncles all serve on the Grinnell Fire Department. His mom, Shanna, said other relatives have served on the Brooklyn and New Sharon fire departments.
“He really liked the EMS side of things,” said Shanna.
On May 14, 2018, Grinnell Fire Chief Daniel J. Sicard named Mason an honorary member of the department and presented him with his own fireman’s helmet with the personal identification number, 500. He also received a fireman’s Maltese cross that had a wooden plaque that said associate member.
Those who knew Mason remember his infectious smile and his love of God and life. He was known as “Mighty Mason.”
Mason passed away on March 22 at the Crescent Cove Pediatric Hospice in Minneapolis. At age 2, he was diagnosed with Gardner Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that caused noncancerous and cancerous growths known as desmoid tumors to develop throughout his body.
Mason was under the care of doctors at the Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. He was a first grader at Fairview Elementary School in Grinnell.
“He always had a smile, no matter how much pain he was in,” said Shanna. “He loved music and loved his POA (Ponies of America) horse and farm playset.”
“He was good buddies with Tyler Fenner of Grinnell and loved helping him show his animals at the county fair,” added Shanna.
“We were able to take Mason to Disney World, thanks to the Poweshiek County Ice Fishing Club,” said Curtis.
He also loved to take pictures and had his own camera. Duane McClun, a friend and GFD volunteer photographer, said he and Mason always enjoyed taking each other’s pictures.
Duane said when Mason was presented with the honorary membership, he and his dad were in the fire station apparatus room and Mason was in the firetruck.
“I went to take his picture and he hid his face,” recalled Duane. “Curtis said, ‘Mason, don’t you want to see the picture on Facebook’ and Mason gave that big smile on his face.”
“After that, Mason would try and take my picture and post it on my Facebook page or I'd be taking his picture and posting it on Shanna's Facebook page,” added Duane.
Duane said when he was visiting with friends who live on Penrose Street in Grinnell, sometimes Curtis and Mason would drive by with the window down.
“Mason would be waving and he'd be yelling 'Hi Radar' and would say it again on their way back home,” Duane said. “The thing I will remember most about Mason is his smile and his love for everyone.”
“Mason was very important to me and the firefighters at the station,” said Chief Sicard. “Mason exemplified many of the characteristics of a great firefighter; strength, perseverance, respect, honor and faith were just the beginning of what made him special. But most important was that even with all he was going through, he always had a wonderful smile. His smile and attitude uplifted everyone he came in contact with.”
“He loved attending Prairie Lakes Church and really had a passion for worship music and wanted everyone to believe in God,” Shanna said. “He got baptized by his choice in November and wanted his whole family to get baptized as well so he knew we believed in God and Jesus. One of his last days, he told me it was ok because he had Jesus in his heart. He truly was full of more faith than a lot of adults.”
Those left to cherish Mason’s memory are his parents, grandparents and other family members including a brother, Colton, 13, and sister, Izzy, 1.
More than 800 people attended Mason’s visitation and 600 attend the funeral held at the Grinnell High School on Friday, March 26. Mason’s casket was carried to the school in the Grinnell Fire Department’s 1913 American LaFrance, ‘Old Betsy.’
Following his funeral, Nick Riley, President of the Iowa Firefighters Association, presented Curtis and Shanna with a Meritorious Service Award certificate naming Mason an Honorary Lifetime Member of the IFA.
“His spirit will always be a part of this department,” said Chief Sicard.