Marble Hill Mayor Masterson dead at 72

Sunday, October 30, 2011
Russell Masterson

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- Marble Hill has lost a longtime civic leader and current mayor.

Russell P. "Bat" Masterson, 72, lost his battle with cancer and died at his home Thursday.

Masterson's friends called him "Bat," in reference to the old west lawman that inspired a television program in the 1950s. Marble Hill city administrative assistant Gary Shrum said he "wondered what kind of fellow called himself Bat Masterson," when Mr. Masterson, who had retired from Verizon, had moved to Marble Hill and opened a gas

station.

As they became acquainted, Shrum began to get to know the man who took a strong interest in the community.

"He was a good alderman," Shrum said. "He looked out for the city and he looked out for the employees' best interests. I've seen many changes within the city that he had been an important part of making."

Police chief Dennis Willis said he knew Masterson before either one became government officials.

"I can't tell you how many years it's been," Willis said. "He did a lot for this community. A lot of people don't realize or don't appreciate how much he did. I had a lot of respect for him."

Masterson served seven years on the board of aldermen, and was in his second term as mayor at the time of his death. He was a member of the board of aldermen when Dr. Ben Ellis was

mayor.

During Masterson's funeral Monday, flags will be flown at half-staff and city hall will be closed in his honor.

"Mayor Bat Masterson was a true public servant in every sense of the word," Ellis said. "His focus was always what was in Marble Hill's best interest, and he devoted more than 15 years to serving his community. He was the kind of man who gave 110 percent."

As a member of the board of aldermen, Masterson showed a strong interest in how the city worked.

"He would come out at night and ride with us," Willis said. "He wanted to know what was going on, what all we needed. When he was mayor he did a lot for the department."

It was under Masterson's watch that the police department began operating around the clock, instead of signing off after the midnight shift.

"That was a good thing," said alderman and Mayor Pro Tem James Sear. "It stabilized the community. He was very concerned about the city and solving its problems."

During his administration, the city acquired a new firetruck and tightened safety rules. Among the park improvements during Masterson's tenure was the total repaving of the road in Pellegrino Park.

"He was totally dedicated to the citizens and the city of Marble Hill," said alderman Roger Burr. "He was someone to confide in and there were no problems he couldn't handle. He was unflappable, and optimistic about the future of the city."

Masterson spoke bluntly also of his faith during his illness.

"About four months ago, a doctor looked me in the face and told me I had life-ending stomach cancer," Masterson said in May during a ceremony for the National Day of Prayer. "About two weeks ago, that same doctor, with a mile on his face, told me I showed significant improvement. Don't tell me prayer doesn't change things."

Masterson recovered enough to lead board of aldermen meetings in city hall until the disease knocked him back again.

Sear will most likely be appointed mayor to finish the rest of Masterson's term, which will end in April. The board is expected to seek someone to fill Sear's ward two term which will end a year from April. Sear said he has "no plans at this time to run for mayor."

"I personally was blessed to know and work with him," former mayor Ellis said. "He will be greatly missed."

"He was a good mayor, I believe," said Willis. " I had good times with him. I'm going to miss him a lot."

Pertinent address:

Marble Hill, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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