If you like Viera, thank Bat Masterson
Bat Masterson cuts the IRCC anniversary cake while Skip Taylor looks on.
Retired Gen. Gordon “Bat” Masterson learned his work ethic from his father, who worked for the Ford Motor Company, where Masterson, the youngest of five children, joined his dad for a while as a machinist in the axle division.
His family eventually bought a 60-acre farm/country store/gas station outside Detroit, so Masterson’s father could basically work nonstop, weekdays at Ford and weekends on the farm. Masterson and mom minded the store and gas station and the family lived at the back of the store. Any spare time was spent working seasonal labor for neighbors.
Despite the commitments at home, the high school-age Masterson managed to participate in sports, play the trumpet and edit the school newspaper.
It was in high school that Masterson met Doris, the love of his life for six decades, before she passed away.
Masterson was the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree. He also joined ROTC and was commissioned upon graduation. By that time, he was also a married man, and his beloved Doris, who was working as an administrative assistant while Masterson finished school and worked odd jobs such as painter and parking meter installer, was happy he was interested in the Air Force as a career.
“We both fell in love with the Air Force,” Masterson said.
Masterson was directed to maintenance duties at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colo. By the time Masterson was assigned to Alaska’s Elmendorf Air Force Base, the Mastersons had four children. When all was said and done, the Masterson clan numbered seven children.
After attending Command and Staff College in Montgomery, Ala., Masterson was later promoted to inspector general, visiting 100 Air Force bases throughout the world.
He was given the opportunity to attend Air War College, something the young man who once installed parking meters never could have imagined.
“I couldn’t believe a kid like me was going to such a prestigious school,” he said.
A full colonel in 1973, Masterson headed to RAF Bentwaters in England, where he was in charge of three squadrons training for Cold War missions. A couple of more assignments followed, including the Pentagon, where he served for three years as director of maintenance and supply for the United States Air Force’s 130 bases scattered around the world.
The day he retired in 1984, he loaded his family and their belongings on a truck and headed to Melbourne Beach, where an uncle owned a home. During the 1970s, Masterson had been at Patrick Air Force Base and knew he wanted to retire to Brevard.
“We flew over the Intracoastal and it looked like paradise,” he said.
After Masterson became a member of the local chapter of the Military Officers’ Association of America, fellow officer Charlie Briggs approached him for help in launching Briggs’ vision of an active community for retired military.
“I was impressed by the man and his vision,” Masterson said.
Masterson agreed, setting himself up for many months of never-ending work, particularly after Briggs unexpectedly died from a heart attack leaving Masterson “last man standing” in a complex, long-lasting endeavor.
“I practically lived in my office for 10 years,” he said.
Masterson’s devotion to the Indian River Colony Club project made reality from what at times seemed a pie-in-the-sky endeavor and paved the way for the rest of Viera to follow.