Mason loved history, especially that of his hometown, Houston, Minn., as well as Houston Township and Houston County. After living away for a period, he was able to return once more to the Bluff Country he loved before he died on Saturday, December 23, 2017, at the Valley View Healthcare and Rehab center in Houston, Minn.
Mason Arthur Witt, 87, was born on September 19, 1930, to Arthur D. and Marion J. (Mason) Witt, at Grandview Hospital in La Crosse, Wis. He would spend his childhood growing up on their farms; first on South Ridge, and then in Looney Valley, Houston Township, Houston County, Minn. He attended grade school in Upper Looney Valley, and then Houston High School, where he graduated in 1947.
Mason attended Winona State Teachers College and taught rural school in Money Creek, Minn., during the 1949/1950 school year. He then continued his education at the University of Minnesota - Minneapolis and graduated from there in 1952 with a degree in anthropology.
Mason returned to farming in Houston until he accepted a position with the National Archives in Washington, D.C., in 1956. He would return to Houston to farming the family farm in Looney Valley with his brother, Mark Witt, in 1958.
Mason’s intense love of history led him to participate in the reorganization meeting for the Houston County Historical Society in 1960, and he was elected as the first president of the revived organization. He participated in the ground-breaking for the first museum building, and remained a life member.
Mason began working as the editor of the Houston Signal in 1973, which later became the Houston Gazette & Country Journal. In 1992 he began to work as an Administrative Assistant for the Houston Community Education program in the Houston Schools until he retired in December 2002. Mason participated in civic duties as a Houston Township Board supervisor for three years, and the township clerk for 26 years. He was an election judge, and served as treasurer on the Silver Creek Cemetery Board for many years.
Mason’s family was a very high priority. He spent much of his life researching his family’s history, becoming an accomplished genealogy researcher, and helping many others with their genealogy research. He was a long-time member of the La Crosse Area Genealogy Society. Mason enjoyed collecting antiques and artifacts. He helped his mother with her antique business, attending many auctions, and traveled with her on antique buying trips. He loved to read all types of literature, especially historical.
In December 2002, Mason moved to Waterford, Wis., and later to East Troy, Wis., with his partner, Douglas Tomas. While there, he continued his genealogy research, and joined the German Interest Group – Wisconsin, a German genealogy association in Janesville, Wis. He also joined the Rochester Area Historical Society in Rochester, Wis., where he helped with cataloging papers, photos, and artifacts into its museum collection. Mason and Douglas did some traveling, culminating with a trip of a lifetime to Europe in December 2011/January 2012 to Munich, Germany; Vicenza, Italy; Prague, Czech Republic; and Wyrzysk, Poland. There Mason was able to walk the land where some of his ancestors lived before coming to America. After 15 years in East Troy, Mason returned to Houston on December 7, 2017.
He is survived by his partner of 19 years, Douglas Tomas; his sister, Rachel (Glenn) Ukkestad of Rushford; his brother, Mark (Kathryn) Witt of Houston; nieces and nephews, Elizabeth (Allen) LaFleur, Rushford, Carl Ukkestad, La Crescent, Diane (Russel) Hummel, Money Creek, Kenneth (Courtney Moe) Witt, Allen Witt, and Riquell Witt, all of Houston; numerous cousins; and a special friend, Shirley Johnson.
Mason was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Arnold; brother-in-law, Glenn Ukkestad; and nephew, Daniel Witt.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. with visitation one hour prior on Sunday, January 14, 2017, at Hoff Funeral and Cremation Service, Houston. Celebrant Vicky Nelson will be officiating the service. Please view his tribute video and leave a memory at hofffuneral.com.
The family suggests memorial contributions be sent to the Houston County Historical Society in Caledonia, Minn., or the Rochester Area Historical Society in Rochester, Wis.