William Henry Mason, 91, passed away on April 28, 2021 at Schowalter Villa in Hesston. Bill was born on March 23, 1930 in Three Rivers, Mich. He was the oldest son of John and Areta (Stark) Mason.
Bill graduated from Tremont (Ill.) High School in 1949. On Aug. 12, 1950, he married Ruth Nafziger at the Hopedale (Ill.) Mennonite Church, and they shared nearly 71 years together. Ruth survives him and lives in the Lake Vista community in Hesston.
Bill’s early professional life in central Illinois included marketing for a farm equipment company and a position with an advertising agency. In 1970, he said yes to an invitation from then-Hesston College President Laban Peachey to head west to Kansas to join the staff of the college as Director of Student Life. This life-changing move to working for the Mennonite Church and becoming a teacher/mentor to hundreds of young people reshaped the rest of his life, bringing him great pleasure and fulfillment. In late 2011, Bill retired from teaching at Hesston College (HC). During the 40 years prior to that, he had served 28 of them at HC in staff/faculty roles, including public relations, student services, admissions and as a business instructor. In 2010, the endowed Bill Mason Business Scholarship was established by one of his former students.
Bill loved his work and didn’t really engage in hobbies, though he enjoyed reading the newspaper cover-to-cover every day. He never passed a blooming rose, mum or lilac without stopping to smell it and comment on its beauty. He was a cat-lover all his life. And, he never forgot the Northern Michigan lake country of his childhood. Starting in 1956—and until summer 2019–Bill and Ruth would annually take (and later join) their children for swimming, fishing and outdoor relaxation at Little Eden Camp, near Onekama, Mich.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children, Stephanie Mason (Md.), Bill (Lorna) Mason, Jr. (Mich.), Jim (Becky) Mason (Kan.), and Phil (Cindy) Mason (Ind.), and niece Joy (Avin Carter) Bailey (Texas); six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and one brother, Jerry Mason (Idaho). His parents and brother, John Mason, Jr., preceded him in death.
The Mason family invites you to a simple Celebration of Life Service at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 14 at Hesston Mennonite Church, where Bill was a member. The service will be livestreamed at https://hesstonmc.org/livestream/ (Appropriate Covid precautions will be observed.) Following the service, there will be a chance to greet the family in the HMC Community Center. A private family meal will follow. Cremation has taken place, and the family will have a private inurnment at Eastlawn Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hesston College, Mennonite Central Committee, or Mennonite Economic Development Associates. Please send these gifts in care of Miller-Ott Funeral Home, P.O. Box 32, Hesston, Kan., 67062, so that the Mason family can acknowledge them. Online condolences to the family may be made by visiting www.wigginsfuneralhomes.com/obituary/william-mason