SEABURY CONE MASTICK (1871-1969)
Seabury Cone Mastick was born on August 19, 1871, in San Francisco, California, the son of William Henry Cone and Laura Jeanette Mastick Cone. Orphaned early in life, he was adopted by his mother's brother and his wife, Seabury L. Mastick and Mary Wood Mastick (n.d.). He spent his childhood in the San Francisco area, attending the Hopkins Academy in Oakland, California, before entering Oberlin College in 1887. After graduation (A.B. 1891), he returned to California to study law at the University of California Hastings School of Law, receiving his LLB in 1894. He also received an A.M. Degree from Oberlin in 1894. Admitted to the bar that same year, he practiced law in San Francisco until 1896, and then in New York City until 1917. He specialized in patent litigation. During 1912-17, he also studied chemistry at Columbia University and in 1916, published a book, Chemical Patents. That year Oberlin College awarded him an honorary A.M.
In 1917 he became an officer in the United States Navy rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander before his retirement in 1920. During his World War I naval service, he was given sole responsibility for the development and manufacture of high velocity star shell artillery ammunition used for illuminating purposes. At that time, these were only such shells in the world, and the Navy awarded him the Silver Star citation for his invention. Beginning in 1920, he worked in New York City as a manufacturer of chemicals, serving as Vice President of the Warner Chemical Company until 1928 and Director from 1930. He was President of Westvaco Chlorine Products, 1922-27.
In 1921, he entered politics (Member of the New York State Assembly, 1921-22; New York State Senator, 1923-35) and began perhaps the most significant aspect of his career, public service. Although a staunch Republican representing the heavily Republican and conservative Westchester county, his experiences during the great depression led him to take socially progressive positions, becoming known as a Depression-Era Reformer. While in office he sponsored a bill to allow women to sit on juries; a bill to create a state liquor monopoly after the repeal of Prohibition, and a bill to establish a system of state unemployment compensation. He was the author of an old-age pension bill that provided small pensions for persons over 70. It was signed by Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1930. He led unsuccessful attempts to limit women and minors to a forty-eight hour work week and to bar detectives from divorce proceedings. He labored to eliminate ineffective and costly government offices throughout the state.
In 1930, Lieutenant Governor Herbert H. Lehman (d. 1963) appointed Seabury Mastick chairman of a special committee to study tax reforms. His service on this committee, which lasted until 1938, well beyond his legislative term, garnered him political and personal prominence. He argued against limiting real-estate taxes to 1.75%, arguing that government spending would inevitably increase and other tax sources would pay a disproportionate share of the costs. With Mayor Fiorella La Guardia (d. 1947), he fought for home rule for the city and the right of the city to create housing authorities to clear massive slums. In 1946, he guided a commission that abolished the Tenement Housing Law in NYC and substituted the Multiple Dwelling Law which set modern standards for air, light, and fire protection.
On leaving the New York State legislature, Seabury Mastick entered banking, serving as President of the Mt. Pleasant Bank and Trust Company (Mt. Pleasant, New York) from 1936-43; Director of the County Trust Company of White Plains, New York from 1943-47 and Advisory Director of the County Trust Company, Pleasantville, NY from 1935-58. During World War II he also worked as Chairman of the Army and Navy Committee of the National Board of the YMCA, a position which made him executive head of the YMCA-USO agency and necessitated his visiting YMCA-USO units throughout the United States. Other service to the YMCA included membership on its national board, national council, and international committee.
For several years, Seabury Mastick served as President of the New York School for the Deaf (1943-47); Vice President of Camp Cloane, a YMCA camp in Connecticut (1936-47); Supervisor of Mount Pleasant (1940); and as an advocate for conservation projects. He was successful in his efforts to establish Harriman State Park. For his unstinting service to government and the public and private sectors, Pacific University (Forest Grove, Oregon) awarded Seabury Mastick an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1952; and Wagner College (Staten Island, New York) the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1953. New York State awarded him the Conspicuous Service Cross (n.d.).
Seabury Cone Mastick met his future wife, Agnes Eliza Warner, in 1888 when they were undergraduates at Oberlin College. Agnes, born in McGrawville, NY on February 22, 1872, was the daughter of Dr. Lucien Calvin Warner (A.B., 1865; A.M., '70; LLD '00), donor of the first Warner Concert Hall in 1884. The couple married on October 1, 1896 and shared an active, life-long interest in social political and religious matters, education of young people, and especially their alma mater. Both served Oberlin College alumni groups both off and on campus. In 1961, their generous donation enabled the construction of the new Warner Concert Hall, named in memory of Mrs. Mastick's parents. In 1964, Mr. Mastick established the Seabury Cone and Agnes Warner Mastick Scholarships, annual awards covering the financial needs of two entering freshmen, renewable for four years. In recognition of their outstanding service and generosity, Oberlin College granted Agnes Mastick the Alumni Service Medal in 1954 in appreciation of her outstanding contributions to the college; in 1962, it awarded honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degrees to both Agnes Warner and Seabury Cone Mastick. Mr. Mastick has previously received an honorary A. M. from Oberlin in 1916.
Mr. and Mrs. Mastick had no children. They were active members of the Episcopal Church. In retirement, they divided their time between Pleasantville, New York and Sarasota, Florida. Agnes Warner Mastick died November 8, 1963. The following year, Seabury Mastick married Kathrin Cawein, a longtime friend and caretaker for Agnes. She was an accomplished artist, and Oberlin College recognized her talents by granting her an honorary degree in 1966 at the commencement ceremonies for which her husband gave the address. An exhibition of her prints, drawings, and pastels was held in Mudd Learning Center at Oberlin College in May/June, 1975.
Seabury Cone Mastick died in Manchester, England on August 21, 1969.
A photograph and biographical information about Seabury
Cone Mastick are
included in the digital collection “Oberlin
College and Military Service in World War I,” presented
by the Oberlin College Archives.
AGNES ELIZA WARNER MASTICK (1872-1963)
Agnes Eliza Warner was born on February 22, 1872 at McGrawville, NY, the daughter of Lucien Calvin Warner (A.B., 1865; A.M. '70; LL.D. '00) and Keren (Karen) Sarah Osborn Warner (A.M. h. 1902). She entered Oberlin College in 1888 and graduated (PhB) in 1892. Four years later (1896), she married a former classmate, Seabury Cone Mastick and moved to New York City. There she engaged in what was to become a lifetime of educational and philanthropic activities.
A former debutante now living a life of privilege, she had a deep concern for labor and the disadvantaged. She served the YWCA, first as President of the Harlem (NYC) Branch and later helped to organize and direct other branches. Her organizational skills led to her election to the National Board of the YWCA and later to her being awarded honorary membership for life.
Many of her philanthropic endeavors were personal. She sent produce from her extensive truck gardens in Westchester to New York City to assist the undernourished. Though a life-long Congregationalist, she joined her husband in many activities and projects of the Episcopal Church.
Politically and socially involved, she was a member of the Westchester County Women's Republican Club and served as chair of the Board of Directors in 1934. She was active in both the Sorosis Club of New York ("the Mother Club of America") and the AAUW.
Throughout her life she served her alma mater with skill and dedication. She organized and served as first President of the Oberlin Women's Club of New York. She was a member of the Alumni Association Council for several years, three as Vice President, and chaired its Alumni Affiliation Committee. For 61 years she served as secretary for her class, 1892, each year sending out detailed letters and reports to all her classmates. As long as her health permitted, she attended all college reunions.
In 1954, Oberlin College awarded her the Alumni Medal for Distinguished Service for her close work with the college to help councils and committees function more effectively. In 1961, the generous contribution of Agnes Warner Mastick and her husband, Seabury Cone Mastick enabled Oberlin to build Warner Concert Hall, named in memory of her parents. They had endowed the first Warner Concert Hall. In 1962, Oberlin College honored both Mr. and Mrs. Mastick with honorary degrees, Doctor of Humane Letters. In 1964, Mr. Mastick established the Agnes Warner and Seabury Cone Mastick scholarship, which annually cover the financial needs for two freshmen.