David J. Mason’49, whose long association with Beloit College included writing a comprehensive college history as well as serving three college presidents, died on June 27, 2016, in Beloit, Wis., at age 91.Over more than four decades, Mason wore a number of Beloit hats with grace and skill, most notably as an administrator and teacher from 1953 to 1993. He started teaching English and journalism part-time and directed the college’s public relations office before being tapped to serve as executive assistant to sixth College President Miller Upton. He went on to serve in the same capacity for the next two college presidents, Martha Peterson and Roger Hull, and was long-time secretary to the board of trustees. Mason officially semi-retired in 1991, but soon took on the monumental task of researching and writing what became Sweet Mad Youth of Old Beloit, an 800-plus page history published in honor of the college’s sesquicentennial.
He called the book “an unconventional chronicle of the coming of age of Wisconsin’s historic and unconventional Beloit College.” Now out of print, the book is an insightful account of Beloit’s past, written with a sense of humor and wonder. “My only claim to legitimacy is that I’ve hung around as long as I have,” he told Beloit College Magazine with characteristic humility when he started the project in 1991. “I’ve known a lot of people and I’ve studied the college a lot because I like it.”
In recognition of his service, he received Beloit’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1989 and an honorary doctorate in 1991.
Mason was a Beloit native who enrolled at the college after serving in the U.S. Army infantry in Europe during World War II. He was wounded twice in action in Germany and earned the Purple Heart. After Beloit, he completed his master’s degree in American literature at Columbia University.
He was active in many civic organizations throughout his life, including the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra and the Greater Beloit Area Association of Commerce. In recent years, he and his wife, Gloria, volunteered as a delivery team for Meals on Wheels.
Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Gloria Mason, a daughter, Holly Mineau, a son, Keith Mason’81, four grandchildren, including Megan Mineau’11, one great-grandchild, and two brothers. A campus memorial service is planned for September 25.
The family is directing gifts to Beloit College in Dave Mason’s name for a creative writing scholarship fund.