September 26, 1940 - May 16, 2021
Al was born in Los Angeles, California, and, as an “Army brat," grew up on the East Coast in New York, Virginia and North Carolina. After graduation from Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia, he joined the U.S. Navy and served as an oceanographic analyst in a special intelligence unit stationed off the coast of California at Pt. Sur and San Nicholas Island. This unit was charged with monitoring and tracking Russian submarines during the Dulles "brinkmanship" cold war era.
After graduating from Santa Barbara City College with an AA degree in English, he began his television career at KEYT in Santa Barbara where he was a cameraman, writer and editor. After moving to San Francisco in 1968, he worked as a photojournalist at NBC and ABC affiliate stations where assignments took him to Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He covered stories of political unrest in Somalia, the first Concorde flight from Europe to North America, and traveled on a Russian ice breaker to the North Pole with a National Geographic International Expedition.
He won both an Emmy and a Peabody Award for videography in the documentary, "Old Age — Do Not Go Gentle," and traveled with the press corps covering Ronald Reagan's campaign for governor of California. He later became the first Technical Operations Manager at KGO-TV in San Francisco when remotes and "live shots" were starting to change television news.
Before retiring to Tubac, Arizona in 2001, he worked at various freelance positions and was employed at Pacific Telesis/ATT in San Francisco where he set up their first "live" video conference events. During retirement he wrote four novels under the pen name of Casey Eastman: "Sand," "The Bird People," "The Road Builders," and his final novel, set in World War I, "When this Thing is Over." An avid reader, he wrote numerous book reviews enjoyed by readers of the Green Valley News and was a contributing writer to Range Magazine. Al is survived by his wife, Karin; daughter Kim Mason; son-in-law Jerry Mason; granddaughter Cynthia Topping; grandson Jacob Mason; and brother Walter Topping of San Ynez, California.
Al was known for his intelligence, sharp wit, and engineering problem solving skills during a lifetime of many accomplishments. Along with his writing, he enjoyed joining the regulars at Grumpy Gringos in Tubac. A celebration of life and scattering of his ashes will be held September 26th in Tubac.