Trust the Torch!

Don Mast

Donald C. Mast transitioned peacefully on April 14, 2024. He leaves behind his second wife, Erma, with whom he enjoyed the last 20 years both in Woodstock then in a beautiful senior living residence at Garden Spot, in Pa; his five remaining children: Dean, Colleen, Tim, Jill and Hans (son Pete had passed 5 years before); and many friends; most who remember him and his first wife, Eunice through their monthly sing-alongs at Masthouse. 

He got his start in a life of community service through music when in the 60s Don and “Euni” helped start a communal living “experiment” with the intention of being involved in community outreach and social justice issues. They began a weekly coffee house in their basement, free to the public; inviting speakers and musicians from Northwestern University and beyond to participate. One of the earliest influences that developed his strong passion for human rights was participating in the Walk on Washington for economic and racial equality with MLK Jr. Soon after an opportunity came from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to  participate in their summer seminars on civil rights and peace. 

Being a teacher with summers free, he and Euni, a self-taught guitar  player and teacher, and along with their six children, enjoyed several years at Conference Point Camp in Wisconsin, organizing nightly folk music programs around the campfire. In the 70s, Don and Eunice moved to Woodstock eventually opening their home up for monthly sing-alongs. Both beginners and well-known musicians (Pete Seeger and Taj Mahal, among them ) were given the opportunity to play on stage for a fast growing audience, creating a community where hardships were shared and friendships forged. They joined a Volga River peace cruise in Russia comprised of musicians,  This cruise began a friendship with Russian folk musicians Sergei and Tanya Nikitin, whom they eventually hosted in the U.S; finding venues where they could share their powerful music of peace and life.

Don had a strong sense of integrity and honesty.  He didn’t hold back on speaking his truth to family, friends, through music, or at times in passionate letters to the editor. He will be missed but his memory will live on and the music is still alive in others who continue to inspire hope and peace in their communities today. As the Mast house slogan says, “Music alone shall live.”

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