A damned good, retired, Highway Patrolman died a little over a week ago, his passing as unobtrusive as he lived, a gentleman hailing from the river country of southwest Missouri. Howard “Bub” Mease was a fine officer who left a legacy of kindness cloaked in a gentle veneer that one would be advised to respect. Bub was 79 years old when he died, a nuclear submarine veteran and career officer. I am at that age when folks who I worked with are slipping away, leaving ever smaller gatherings to celebrate their lives and work on earth. Sgt. Mease graced our presence from May 14, 1943 to November 8, 2022.
I met Bub while attending the Highway Patrol’s supervision school back in the early 80’s. Bub was quiet in class but quickly assumed the role of a spiritual leader with his disarming style and ability to read people. In 1989, I was assigned to Springfield, and made the move from the Kansas City area to southwest Missouri. Troopers, especially those from other areas of the state, naturally illicit caution among the established officers when they are transplanted among them. Patrol officers form their own judgements, part of the “Show Me” thing with Missourians. Bub made his presence known on the first day of my Springfield assignment, stopping in headquarters to invite me to lunch at his parents home in Reed Springs, down in the deep hollows, where I was treated to a wild game and fish lunch topped off with one of the best gooseberry cobblers I have ever eaten. Bub wanted me to know that I was welcome in the new Troop and I never forgot his kindness. I still have a home made gooseberry picker that was gifted to me by Bub’s father, a White River guide for the legendary Owen Guide Company. Bub came about his love of the outdoors honestly.
Bub was a terrific officer. He was unflappable, reliable and a superior supervisor earning the respect of both his fellow senior officers and the newer troops. We shared a deep appreciation for hunting and fishing, and spent many days on Table Rock Lake, taking advantage of his knowledge of the lake. Bub was also an excellent float fisherman and we spent numerous days on the James and Finley rivers where I gained an appreciation for both his skill with a rod and vast knowledge of river lore. Bub was a tall guy and his tales of life in the North Atlantic, in a cramped US Navy submarine, were hilarious. It was a wonder he could still stand upright.
Bub Mease was not overly complicated. He was perfectly content to take care of his officers, drive an old Chevy pickup and drink a cold beer while standing over a gallon or two of hot peanut oil frying crappie for his friends. He was a joker, strong as an ox and blessed with those big hands that accomplished pistoleros all seem to have. He was a trooper’s trooper, the highest praise you can receive as a patrolman. He was a enduring part of the Patrol’s legacy in southwest Missouri.
While fishing with Bub late one evening, I personally watched him smoke a cigarette, hold a can of Coors, pee over the side of the boat and still manage to set the hook on a fish…..all at the same time. The Lord called home a good one and I could not be prouder of our association. You left a wake Bub, on the water and in life. God bless you.
Have a good week!