Holiday a reminder of a patriot and friend

In honor of Memorial Day and the thousands of air crews that lost their lives during World War II, I sat down last night and watched the movie “Memphis Belle” again. I can’t help but remember a Durango veteran by the name of Russ Mass who passed away a few years ago at the age of 87. He was a gentle man who, as a navigator, flew 30 missions over Italy or Germany in B-17s.

I came to know him because he was one of the original founders of the Durango Wildlife Volunteer Group almost two decades ago. This group still hosts the Division of Wildlife museum co-located with the Durango Fish Hatchery.

He was a wonderful man who could really relate to the kids he took on museum tours over the years.

I remember when I first started volunteering, I watched him with a group of 6-year-olds and he asked them, “Where do fish keep their money?” The answer: “The river bank.” The kids would all moan and say, “Aw, Mr. Mass.”

Although he was going blind with glaucoma, he continued to host at the museum and conduct tours.

I never saw an obit or a funeral announcement for him. I guess he never wanted notoriety. I just thought people would like to hear about him. A true patriot, sleep well, my friend.

Derek Snyder

Durango Wildlife Volunteers, Hesperus