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John Masterson, A Renaissance Man

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John Masterson, who passed away on May 13, lived a life that proved it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. To his family, of course, he was a husband, father and grandfather. To friends, such as Linda Campo, John was a “strong and honest man who always saw the other side of things and was sensitive to people.”

Ms. Campo remarked, “John always had confidence in me and it was because of him that I had the courage to audition for one of his shows ‘Anything Goes’ and got the part of Bonnie.”

Speaking of theatre, John had a long association with Stage West and Live Oak, two local community theatres. Vince Vanni was active with Stage West for many years and then helped to found the Live Oak Theatre. Vanni has many fond memories of John, starting with when they both acted in Stage West’s production of “Plaza Suite” in the 1980s. John once came to Vince’s rescue.

“I was directing Agatha Christie’s ‘Witness for the Prosecution.’ Two weeks before opening night, our set designer had not yet constructed our courtroom set. John contacted a whole crew of people and, in one week, he constructed and painted an entire British courtroom on the stage. He understood better than anyone that acting is a team sport.”

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“He had a deep appreciation for things and was able to sense things that many couldn’t,” Vanni added.

John’s career was in law enforcement, first in a patrol unit and then as a detective. He compiled some of his experiences into a crime thriller entitled “Dolan, Murder Cop,” which was published this year. For more on this, refer to an article that appeared in the March 24, 2023 issue of The Hernando Sun. https://www.hernandosun.com/2023/03/26/local-author-pens-true-to-life-crime-thriller/

John coached Little League for more than 20 years and also worked with the young people at Live Oak.

“Cast members (especially the kids) would love to listen to him talk about personal experiences…like sharing the stage with Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy in ‘Inherit the Wind,’” Vince stated.

Ms. Campo knew John for 22 years. They met when he and his wife, Nancy, started playing cards with her mother, Libby Campo. The four would go out to dinner together and to baseball games. John was an avid Yankee fan.

“When we went to see a game at Steinbrenner field, he would always wear all of his Yankee gear. At his gravesite, we all sang ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ which he had requested.”

John was married to his wife, Nancy, for 67 years. They have two children and three grandchildren. Michelle Wyllie is the eldest and married to Dennis Wyllie. Cornelius, his son, is married to Joann. His three grandchildren are Cornelius, Stefano and Tracey.

He had many passions−acting, directing, writing and coaching baseball. He also loved to go to the theatre, work in his garden and travel−Italy being one of his favorite places to visit. John and his wife took many cruises as well.

Michelle remarked, “He met his mark with everything he set out to accomplish. His family was his pride and joy.”

John Masterson was a man who truly lived a fulfilling life and I’m sure he had very few regrets. He exemplifies the sentiment of a poem written by Linda Ellis. Here is an excerpt from it:
I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
From the beginning…to the end

He noted that first came the date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
Know what that little line is worth

For it matters not, how much we own,
The cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.

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