GORHAM – A large turnout is expected Saturday at First Parish Church in Gorham for a memorial service to honor Robert Masterson, a respected critical care nurse at Mercy Hospital, who advocated for his patients and was a mentor to hospital staff and medical students.

He died on Feb. 5 – just one month after being diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. He was 64.

Mr. Masterson was a critical care nurse at Mercy Hospital in Portland for the past 30 years. He was remembered by hospital staff as a passionate advocate for patients and their families.

“Bob’s deep-seated faith and unwavering compassion for the vulnerable — especially the chronically homeless — set him apart,” Eileen Skinner, president and chief executive officer of Mercy Hospital, said in a statement. “He led by example and embodied the Mercy values in a way that made everyone who worked with him feel privileged and inspired to be a better person, a better caregiver.”

Mr. Masterson was highly respected among Mercy staff. There, he taught continuing education courses and became a mentor to many medical students. His obituary, published earlier this week, said he was known for “calmly and confidently guiding others through difficult clinical situations.”

Though his work was an important part of his life, nothing topped the devotion he had for his wife, Althea Masterson, and their two children.

His wife spoke openly this week about their 36 years together. They met at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco in 1976. He was a nursing student and she was a staffing coordinator. He visited her office regularly to request time off. Soon after she left the hospital, he called to ask her out on a date.

“He had a BMW motorcycle and a Buick station wagon a big tank of a car,” she said, recalling the moment she fell in love with him. “We were driving around looking for a parking space in the city. He was so calm. I thought this is a good man.”

Six months later, they got married. They settled in Gorham, where they raised two children.

“We had an amazing life in that I think we never took each other for granted,” his wife said. “When the kids were little, there was so much going on. He was home, being an amazing father to them. He was so proud of them with the education and the careers they pursued.”

“As empty nesters some of our happiest times were sitting at the kitchen table on those quiet evenings when it was just Bob and I,” she said. “I always knew what I had with Bob. I knew we had a strong marriage. He was such a good man and so devoted to his family. He always put all of us first.”

His daughter, Kathleen Masterson, a registered nurse at Maine Medical Center, said her father inspired her career in nursing.

“All my life, I had a special connection with him,” she said. “He made me want to be a better person. He led by example, always offering us a perspective that was one of love and acceptance.”

His son, Daniel Masterson, said his father was his mentor and friend.

“I think about my life through the lens of my dad,” he said. “When I think about what I want to achieve and how I attack challenges and form goals in my life, so much of that comes from him and the example he set.”

At home, Mr. Masterson spent much of his spare time tackling challenging home improvement projects. During Wednesday’s interview, his wife and daughter sat in a sun room he built at their Gorham home. He also built a sizable family room and 110-foot stone wall, complete with an arch. His wife said the projects fueled his love of learning and took his mind off the cases he handled at work.

“There were times when the paint cans and piles of rocks wore on me, but I understood what it did for him,” his wife said. “It created the balance that we all want in our lives. The stone work was a love he had… it was so symbolic of the person he was. He was our rock. He was always positive and strong. He was pretty remarkable.”

Mr. Masterson’s memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Parish Church, 1 Church St. in Gorham.

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

mcreamer@pressherald.com