House Fire Victim Ona Masters Dies at 95

Former Riverhead teacher suffered from smoke inhalation during a Thursday fire at her Southampton home.

Editor's Note: This obituary was prepared by the family, provided by Brockett Funeral Home and edited by Patch.

Former Riverhead math teacher Ona Masters died Thursday night when she succumbed to smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation after being pulled from her burning home in Southampton earlier that day.

Born Aug. 31, 1917, in North Tonawanda, she was 95 years old.

Masters was the first member of her family to earn a college degree, when she graduated from Buffalo State College with a teaching degree in math. Later on, she earned a master's in mathematics education.

Masters taught on Grand Island near Buffalo until she married Arnold Masters in 1948. The couple moved to Southampton as Arnold was offered a position to teach art in the Southampton Public Schools system.

When her youngest child entered school, she went back to the classroom. She taught math in Eastport and Riverhead until her retirement in 1985.

The Association of Mathematics Teachers of New York State occupied a great deal of Ona's energy. She gladly engaged in many activities but her real love was selling books and games for the Scholarship Fund. Many young math teachers benefitted from her work. AMTNYS awarded her with the Distinguished Service Award, its highest honor for members that never held a major office in the group.

Masters loved gardening. It was always a great day when she could harvest a vegetable or beautiful flower grown by her hard work. She also loved sewing and knitting. There were many Easter Sundays when her daughter remembers wearing new clothes designed and sewn by Masters.

As a child, Masters loved camping and scouting. She remembered many songs she learned at that time and sang them with gusto until her death.

Masters was never happier than when she was surrounded by people to talk with. To the end of her life, she looked forward to evenings out, having dinner in a local restaurant. She discovered to her great joy that one of the waiters in her favorite restaurant shared her birthday. She made sure to include him in her celebration.

Masters loved to watch professional tennis. She spent many hours playing at her son's tennis club. She was a great sports fan, excited and happy when the Olympics were being held. For the last six years of her life, she enjoyed discussing the mysteries of life with her caregiver, Mattye.

In her spare time, Masters enjoyed her work in the First Presbyterian Church in Southampton. For many years, she directed the Christmas Pageant with full costumes and make-up. She was an active and enthusiastic member of the Presbyterian Women's Association. She was also the Sunday School superintendent.

For the last three years of her life she was a member and regular Sunday fixture at the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church. Her faith helped her to accept the challenges of getting older.

Masters was predeceased by her husband, Arnold. She is survived by her daughter, Margery, son, Paul, his wife, Di, and seven grandchildren.

A memorial service in celebration of Masters' life will take place on Nov. 3 at the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church at 1 p.m.

Richard Chizever October 16, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Mrs. Masters was a wonderful educator and a very special person. I was lucky too be in her 8th grade math class at the Riverhead Junior High School in 1969. She was very patient with her math challenged students. Mrs. Masters was always very proud of her family and would share stories about her son Paul's tennis exploits. I was lucky enough to play tennis against her son Paul and husband Arnie on many occasions . Mr. Masters was always a pleasure to play with or against and was a true gentlemen. Whenever I played against Paul , I was humbled. I wish the Master's family the very best at this very sad time. Your mother was a fine lady and made a positive difference in so many lives. Mrs. Masters gave me a very good math foundation, so that I was able to excel in math during college. I had been one of her students that had severe math anxiety. I am Forever your student and admirer.


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