Mason Neil Zinser left this earth to go to his beloved Faye on August 10th, 2021.
To say he had a colorful life would be an understatement. Neil arrived in this world a little too early on April 22,1939. His will to fight was evident from the beginning as he was born premature and survived at a time when many preemie babies didn’t.
He grew up in Minnesota on his grandfather’s farm with his mother Helen, and his 3 brothers. He told of hard winters where the upstairs porch door was the front door due to the snow being so high it covered the first story of the house. They would track out in a tunnel through the snow to care for the livestock, gather eggs and milk cows. Neil was picked by his grandfather to be the family Jesuit Priest. His training lasted just over year before he gave that up. Always a self-aware man, Neil would say that he liked whiskey and those pretty women that wore “that bright red lipstick” much better.
His mother moved them to California where she raised the boys as a hard-working single mom. She worked her regular job and to make ends meet, she bet the horses at the famous Santa Anita racetrack. Neil was very proud of and loved his mom very much.
During his time in California, Neil owned a Pure Oil service station in Van Nuys, California across from Universal Pictures. Neil serviced the studios cars and even leased one of his personal cars to the studio for the 1954 Rock Hudson movie “a magnificent obsession”.
He met war hero and western movie star Audie Murphy there and was good friends with him. He hauled Audie’s personal horses which were used in movies back to Oklahoma and picked up fresh horses for the next picture. Neil also was a talented water skier. He was a part of a team that traveled and competed in water shows.
While in California, he trained at General Motors to become an area service manager. When Neil accepted an assignment to work in Lubbock, Texas, he could not have possibly known how that fateful decision would change his life forever.
It was at Don Crow Chevrolet where Neil would meet Faye, and one of the most epic love stories ever told would begin.
They were both hard workers, Faye was a cotton farmer. Neil worked at the dealership and spent evenings and weekends fixing the equipment on Faye’s farm. He eventually quit GM to join Faye on the farm full time. They were inseparable from the start and worked side by side every day.
When they got out of farming in1978, they continued their partnership and opened Zinser automotive, which Neil operated until June 2021.
When Faye suffered a stroke in 1996, Neil’s love for her became the stuff of legends. Faced with a grim prognosis, Neil and Faye teamed up once again for the fight of a lifetime. Neil’s business partner Ronnie Nelms stepped up and took over at the shop so Neil could live at the hospital with Faye, helping her rehabilitate and learning to care for her. He even learned to fix her hair and put on her lipstick.
After a year in the hospital, Neil announced to the doctors that he and Faye were going home. The doctors warned that “she wouldn’t live 6 months” if she left the hospital. Neil flatly told them,,,,, “You don’t know us.”
Faye did pass…. 13 years later,,,,, at June Lake, California while on yet another trip that Neil had taken her on. Neil would pack her support equipment and wheelchair up and they traveled this country both by car and by air till the very end.
The very night she passed in June Lake; Faye was standing outside the cabin. Neil would say about that evening, “I thought she just looked beautiful that night”. Neil quietly got his camera and took a picture of her. That photo would stay on bedroom dresser and was there with him the night he died.
After Faye’s passing, Neil wasn’t done with caring for those he loved. After a brief rest, (to get his foot fixed that Faye had run over with her golf cart, twice,) he drove to California and picked his mother up and brought her to his home in Lubbock, where he cared for her 9 years until she too passed at age 99.
Neil was a modern-day renaissance man. Not only was he a great farmer and skilled mechanic, but He also cooked, canned, baked, and painted landscape portraits. He was an avid reader, and one of the most well-rounded men we know.
Neil loved farming, and it makes sense if you think about it. Only those who live in a state of grace can have a connection to the earth and all things living like Neil did. His very favorite thing to grow on his farm was sunflowers.
He loved to garden too. In the winter, he nurtured his seedlings in his heated greenhouse. Come spring, he would plant those seedlings in his gardens and would tend them all summer. He would harvest his gardens, give fruits and vegetables away to friends and family. He always canned some and stored it in his root cellar for another day.
Neil also planted and cared for an astonishing number of trees at his home. Among those trees was an aspen that he dug up in Colorado and brought home to Lubbock. Neil said several people told him “That aspen will never make in the Texas heat and low altitude”. That was 35 years ago and that aspen lives today.
Neil’s life teaches us if tend things with love and care,,,,, whether it’s a marriage, or animals, or a garden, a business, or even an aspen tree, they can amaze you and flourish, even in unexpected places.
Neil left this earth September 10th, 2021, at about 3 AM. He died in his sleep in his home during his battle with cancer.
Neil is preceded in death by, his beloved wife Faye, Mother Helen, Brother Bill, Stepdaughter Nelda, and his Stepson Clifford Ray.
He is survived by 2 brothers, 4 grandchildren several great grandchildren and scores of nieces and nephews.
The Family asks everyone to join them at Neil and Faye’s house for a reception, immediately following this service.
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