— CARL JUNCTION, Mo.. — Lowell Mason, 75, knows his time as the oldest living dwarf, according to Guinness World Records, may be short – and not because of any pressing health issues. An Indian woman claiming to be 113 may one day claim the record.
Mason knows about her, but it's one of the ones he doesn't know about that may take his record.
"I knew when they gave me that title, I thought for sure that there had to be someone older," Mason said. "I've had the title for a year, but I'm OK with it if someone takes it away. I can still say 'former Guinness World Records holder.'"
The title is still his: A search for his name on Guinness' website pulls up the record he has owned since Feb. 16, 2012.
But before that, Lowell's wife, Judy, and her family made an interesting discovery: They found out they are descendants of legendary Native American Pocahontas.
"I found out through my aunts," Judy said. "They had researched it and found that she is related to us from 11 generations ago."
A desire to see her gravestone as well as the Guinness offices gave the couple a reason to go to Great Britain, making for a 50th anniversary vacation that neither one could have ever foreseen.
Lowell has familial achondroplasia, otherwise known as congenital dwarfism. Standing less than 4 feet tall, at 75 years old he is in good physical health, except for worn out cartilage in his bones. He uses a walker to get around.
He hasn't known life any other way, he said.
"It's hard for me to think in any other way," he said. "I grew up with the same kids. We started kindergarten together, but I just never thought of myself as different. I mean, I knew I wasn't as tall, but for me it made no difference."
Starting his career early, Lowell sang in his father's Michigan church as a child and at 17 joined up with Cecil Todd in Joplin, Mo., as a song leader and music director. Now known as Revival Fires, Lowell still works with Todd's ministries.
Throughout his singing career, he was known as "The Mighty Midget," "Little Lowell" and "The World's Smallest Gospel Singer." But it never occurred to Lowell to make that last nickname official -- until his 74th birthday. One of his grandsons, Cory Emmert, asked him a question.
"He asked me how old I was, and I told him 74," Lowell said. "Then he said that he had been looking at Guinness, and saw that the oldest living dwarf was in his 50s, and that we should try to do something about that. I thought it was a good idea, so we dived right in."
Lowell sent an email to the organization and heard back about two days later. He was presented with a massive list of records he would need to prove his age. The list included much more than simply presenting a birth certificate.
"I had to get business people to write letters that they knew me and had known me long enough that I could be the age I was claiming," Lowell said. "It took me probably six months to get all that info."
Weeks went by after Lowell submitted his application. But before he saw anything on Guinness' website, he received another call from Guinness. A woman asked him for a new picture they could use in the 2013 record book, which was released on Sept. 13, 2012. He knew he was in then, he said.
Actually, there is no need to be politically correct around Lowell Mason, who stands at about 3 feet tall. He's heard it all: Midget, dwarf, little person, runt, you name it.
While none of those terms bug him, he knows of others his size who are offended by the term "midget."
"There is a group of little people that is encouraging the idea of being offended by use of the word 'midget,'" Lowell said. "The term in Guinness is 'dwarf,' which is also medical. But I have absolutely no problem with anything like that."
Details for this story were provided by Joe Hadsall, a reporter for The Joplin (Mo.) Globe.