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10 April 2013
By Rudi Schiffer
The official obituary from the funeral home in Gulfport stated that Warren L. Mason, 56, of Biloxi, MS died Easter Sunday after a long courageous battle with cancer. And that he was a devoted husband and survived by his beloved wife of thirty-three years, Sherrie, and was the proud father of three loving children, Nicole, Shane, and Laura, and Papa to his precious grandchildren, Mason, Maya, and Maddox.
Obits stick to the facts like a legal notice in the newspaper, but there is a larger story to tell. It’s not easy to summarize a man’s life in a short feature so forgive me if I pass over some milestones.
Warren, Regional Vice President of Operations at the MGM Resorts properties of Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike in Tunica, had a remarkable career that spanned 30 years in a tough business. But he was a devoted professional in that industry and over the years he rose from a dealer at Dell Webb’s Claridge Casino in Atlantic City, became a pit boss at Trump Castle, moved to casino shift manager at Southern Belle in Tunica and when that house went bankrupt, he moved to Horseshoe and later became Vice President of Table Games where he was a protégé of legendary Jack Binion. His career was bearing fruit.
When Binion sold Horseshoe Warren moved South to join his close friend, George P. Corchis, Jr. President and COO of MGM Resorts International Regional Operations. That was in 2006 right after Hurricane Katrina paid an unwelcome and devastating visit to the Gulf Coast gaming industry. He went right to work and played a vital role in the reopening team’s efforts to get the the beautiful resort back on its foundation and within a year the property was restored.
Two years later Warren was promoted to VP of Table Games for MGM Resorts International Mississippi properties where he was instrumental in conceptualizing and implementing strategic initiative to increase market share and ensure profit not only at the Beau Rivage but at Gold Strike.
A native of New Jersey, Warren came South with a group of friends, the Jersey Boys, to start a new life with more opportunity. It paid off for most of them and Warren, who was a tireless worker with a capacity to make friends with everyone he encountered along the way. Those thousands included not just players, but his staff, colleagues, and people outside of the industry. His kind heart and unwavering dedication to his profession proved that casino executives were not just cold-hearted guys looking at the bottom line all the time, but were real people who respected the various publics they dealt with daily.
He considered his team of loyalists as an extension of his beloved family and his bare-faced enthusiasm was contagious to all he came into contact with. How did he maintain this great demeanor when he was harboring a killer within; Cancer.
Two weeks before the Southern Belle Casino went bankrupt, Warren was found to have cancer. When the Belle folded he was left without medical insurance and faced a future with his life in the balance. He fought the enemy tenaciously, for off and on for20 years, but on this past Easter Sunday, he passed to a better place. He was so loved by his family, that son Shane, quit a well-paid job in Texas to be with his father in the last several months of his life.
Corchis had an insiders’ perspective of Warren and said, “to paint a complete picture of Warren’s contribution to this world is impossible, but I can honestly say that he had two true passions in this life…his family was first and foremost and next was his ‘other’ family, the casino industry.
“He had a passion for his job and the people he managed unlike anyone else I’ve ever met…he was a man who truly cared about everyone he came in contact with. His legacy of love, compassion, strength and passion for work and family lives on directly through all of those fortunate enough to have known him.
Heard it on the River is published courtesy of Jackpot Magazine, the South's leading gaming newspaper.
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