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Drivers in Elizabethtown might have spotted an unusual funeral procession Monday morning as they went about their day. But for Edward Y. Mason’s family, it was the perfect way to say goodbye.
Mason, a former mayor of West Point and a longtime funeral director, died five days short of his 103rd birthday, which would have been Jan. 28. Following his funeral Monday, his body was taken from Manakee Funeral Home on Leitchfield Road to Elizabethtown City Cemetery in a horse-drawn hearse.
The carriage served as a fulfillment of Mason’s last wish. Although Manakee owned the antique hearse for about a quarter century, Monday’s service was the first time it was used.
Mason had a great deal of life experience with horses said his son, Charles Mason.
“He grew up, day one, with horses,” Charles said.
Edward Mason’s father, R.E., used horses in his work building bridges.
Son-in-law Bob Irvine said Mason still had a saddle at his home.
“It was one of his beloved possessions,” Irvine said.
Through his work with Manakee, Mason knew then-owner James Manakee purchased a horse-drawn hearse and asked his family to request its use in the funeral procession.
Duane Manakee, co-owner of the funeral home, said the hearse is more than 100 years old. His father purchased it as a collector’s item.
Manakee said Mason worked many years at the funeral home and they wanted to return the favor.
“We wanted to give him whatever he wanted and we hope we made him proud,” Manakee said.
Mason was asked in the last few weeks of his life about his last wishes, Irvine said. Mason said it would be to ride a horse.
Charles Mason said the hearse was “the next best thing.”
“It’s only fitting to go out like this,” he said.
Mason served as mayor of West Point for 13 years. He also had the distinction of being the oldest licensed undertaker in Kentucky as Manakee associates kept his license active even after he left the funeral home.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Katherine, and two sons, Robert and Edward. Edward Mason Jr. was a former member of the University of Kentucky basketball team. He is survived by his son, Charles, and a daughter-in-law, Rebecca Mason Irvine, and her husband, Bob.
Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.