Danvers — Leon J. Masse, 100, passed away, Friday, July 19, 2013, at his home in Danvers, with his family by his side. He was the devoted husband of Jeannette "Jeanne" M. (Soucy) Masse, with whom he shared 78 years of marriage.
Born and raised in Salem, he was the son of the late Edmond and Bruna (Nadeau) Masse. Leon worked as an architectural engineer for most of his career. Among the companies he worked for were Pitman & Brown, Morgan National and Naumkeag Lumber. Throughout his career, he worked on various construction projects including the Christian Science building in Boston, senior housing projects, schools, and many churches. He retired from Naumkeag Lumber in 1983, and was able to devote more time to his passion for woodworking.
When Leon retired, he constructed bird houses that were replicas of world-famous buildings, European cathedrals and castles. His desire for constructing developed into sophisticated scaled models of the Taj Mahal, Jefferson Memorial, and local historic sites.
Leon was a very generous man, making and donating historic models for the City of Salem, such as the Old Salem Depot, Custom House, Cadet Armory, and House of Seven Gables. His greatest reward was never financial, it was found in the recipient's delight upon receiving these masterpieces.
Leon constructed over 50 lighthouses, with no two ever being the same. Many of these houses are over 2 feet high with working light. All Leon needed was a photograph showing the different sides and he would build them out of scrap wood to scale. The finished lighthouses looked as they stood, detail for detail. This was another example of his unique woodworking talent.
Leon's kind heart was evident wherever he went. He loved to share his talent and volunteered his time teaching a woodworking class for young men. He saw the need in trying to keep these young men off the street and worked with them on several projects. The boat they built together was their biggest pride and Leon shared their excitement when the boat eventually made it to water. These boys later told Leon that he had been a tremendous influence in their lives. That was the only payment he needed.