James Albert Mason
1929 - 2014
{ "" }
Share James's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
January 4, 1929 ~ May 15, 2014
James Albert Mason was born in Eureka, Utah on January 4, 1929 to Rolla N. and Mary Garn Mason. He died with loved ones near by on May 15, 2014 in Orem, UT. Dr. Mason was the founding director of the Museum of Art at Brigham Young University. During his forty years at BYU he served as the chairman of the Music Department and as dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications for eleven years. As dean he was able to realize a dream he had for the university- to build an innovative art museum. This required gaining permission to proceed with this venture as well as fundraising without using any university or church funds. After completion of the Brigham Young University Museum of Art he was appointed its founding director. Some of the exhibits were: BYU's treasures, art from the Vatican Museums, Chinese museums, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
He grew up in Springville across the street from the art museum which had an influence on him throughout his life. His high school years were dominated by music. His studies at Brigham Young University were interrupted to serve in the Armed Forces during the Korean War. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from BYU and his doctoral degree from Arizona State University. While playing the French horn in the university's orchestra he met and married Lynne Galbraith, a violinist. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on June 4th 1956. He began teaching music in Nebo School district and after completing his master's degree was hired by Brigham Young University High School. Five years later he joined the University's Music Department. He was given an extended leave for professional activities. After serving as editor of the Utah Music Educator, he accepted a job in Chicago as editor of the Instrumentalist, a monthly music magazine. He left to complete his doctoral degree. While teaching at BYU he wrote "News of Research" column for the Journal of Research in Music Education. He was elected president of the Western Division MENC and some years later was elected national president of MENC, the National Organization of Music Educators with more than a 100,000 members. He taught as a visiting professor at Northwestern University, Indiana University, University of Texas, and Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He lectured at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China and was the American speaker at the International Conference on Music Education in Warsaw, Poland. He served on a number of boards including the Music Education Research Council in Washington, D.C., The Barlow Foundation for Music, The Music Council in New York City, the Music Industry Council in Chicago, the Presser Foundation in Philadelphia, Utah's Statehood Centennial Commission, Utah Opera Board, and Utah Museum Council. He was the co-founder of the Utah Valley Symphony. During these years of service he received many awards and recognitions consisting of an award from the Israeli Government, two awards from Educational Press Association of America, the San Francisco Art Critics Award, the Utah Outstanding Music Educators Award, the Utah Museum Association Award, the Reed Smoot Award, the Arthur Watkins Award, the Franklin S. Harris Award, the BYU Alumni Award and the Life-time Achievement Award from the Mormon Arts Committee. He has been listed in Who's Who in America. He served in many callings in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition to teaching he served as elder's quorum president in three different wards, high councilor in three stakes, bishop in two wards, and on the General Music Committee. He served on an advisory committee for the development of the LDS Conference Center. Although James achieved international recognition for his professional work his proudest accomplishment was his dear family.
He is survived by his wife of fifty-eight years and his three wonderful children: Julia Johns Davis (Kevin Johns, deceased, and Patrick Davis), Margo Turner (David) and Christopher Mason (Mican), fifteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his two sisters Shirley Beardall and Elaine Rothwell, and a granddaughter, Angela.
Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 11:00am at the Sunset Heights 6th Ward, 500 South 600 West, Orem. Friends may call Wednesday, May 21st from 6-8pm at the Sundberg-Olpin Mortuary, 495 South State, Orem and Thursday from 9:30 -10:30am prior to the funeral. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the BYU Museum of Art. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.SundbergOlpinMortuary.com

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Deseret News on May 18, 2014.
Calling hours
06:00 - 08:00 PM
Calling hours
09:30 - 10:30 AM
Funeral service
11:00 AM
Funeral services provided by
Order by phone: (866) 764-7853
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Sundberg-Olpin Mortuary - Orem
Not sure what to say?
8 entries
August 31, 2014
(Intended to accompany the photo.)
Dear Lynne,
We were shocked to learn of Jim's death and dismayed that we missed the obituary. Ann had total ankle replacement surgery in April and presented me with a 24/7 caretaker role--in May we were both absorbed by this; consequently, days passed without taking time to read the paper. Jim (whom we called Bert in our college days) was a close and valued colleague, as well as a giant in his field; we consider you both to be dear friends (and present tense seems the only appropriate reference). You may recall that he was instrumental in obtaining my position at the BYU lab school to follow him when he moved to the music department. We both completed doctoral studies during a similar time frame. His incredible career at BYU et al. progressed during the time we lived in Kansas I served as director of the School of Music and later, associate dean, fine arts at Wichita State University. I am amazed at the breadth and extent of his achievements and reflect on the constancy and value of your support and presence through all of them. We love and admire you both and offer heartfelt sympathy and condolence to you and your family. Bill and Ann Mathis
August 30, 2014
Bill and Ann Mathis
Bill Mathis
June 26, 2014
Dear Lynne, Julie, and family,

So very sorry to hear of Dr. Mason's passing. He was a kind and wonderful man. I enjoyed our travels together in Europe and getting to know each of you on a personal level. I lost my father on May 20th and understand your great loss. Our love and respect to each of you. Our prayers will be with you .

Layne & Kristine Westover
Layne Westover
May 24, 2014
I just learned of the passing of James A. Mason (unfortunately too late to attend the memorial service) and suddenly find myself reflecting on my years at BY High where I had the good fortune of playing under him in the band. He was a wonderful mentor--imbuing us with an appreciation for not only music, but the arts in general (I remember Picasso's "The Musicians" in his office). He always had us playing the best of literature and to a very high standard (often using recordings of the Eastman Wind Ensemble as an example). Even during the cold early morning marching band drills in the fall, his attention to detail and doing things correctly (our turns were always crisp and our lines straight) was evident. However, his primary concern was not mere execution, but his students as individuals and the aesthetic experiences open to them through music. He was an outstanding, inspiring conductor--and our joint experiences with him in both rehearsal and performance at such a formative time in our lives were priceless. Beyond this, he was a true friend. While I have been aware and appreciative of all he has accomplished since those early days (including the creation of the wonderful Museum of Art), for me, nothing can compare with the personal touch he had in my life as a young musician. I will always be grateful for what he did for ma (and others like me).

Ralph B. Woodward
May 24, 2014
Dear Lynne & Family, We are very sorry to learn of your loss. Jim was a wonderful person & will be missed. Our thoughts & prayers are with you at this sad time. Joyce & Tom Sawyer
May 23, 2014
I had the privilege of studying and taking french horn lessons from James Albert Mason in the mid 1950's. He was assisting our Band teacher, George Puckett in our band program at Springville High School at that time. I was in either the 9th or 10th grade. He was an excellent teacher, encouraged me to work hard and taught me a lot. He was kind, thoughtful and thorough in his teaching. He taught my lessons at his parents home in Springville, Utah which was just across the street, west of the Springville Art Museum. He was truly an artist and I felt like a friend as well as a student. I worked hard and loved playing the french horn. I also had the privilege of teaching in the BYU Music Department with him, serve with him while he was Music Department Chairman and also while he was Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications. What a wonderful and great man. David H. Sargent
David Sargent
May 20, 2014
Chris -
On behalf of Minnesota Life and myself we wish to extend our condolences for the loss of you father. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.
Sincerely -
Nancy Cooke
May 18, 2014
I knew James A. Mason as a member of the BY High School concert band and marching band. He made such an impression on me that I have never forgotten his great love for music and his kind, gentle personality. Completion of the fine arts museum and his directorship will remain a lasting achievement and memorial to a great man. Hundreds of thousands will continue to benefit from the achievement of his dream. Thank you, Brother Mason!
Paul T Smith
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences