Middle School students entering Mast Hall pass by the bronze dedication plaque each day, perhaps not realizing that they have always had a champion.
Joe Mast ’49, an often-anonymous benefactor to Randolph-Macon Academy who funded the R-MA Middle School, passed away on May 30, 2019 at the age of 87.
Among those honored in 2017 at R-MA’s 125th Anniversary Gala for donations totaling more than $1 million, Mr. Mast did not want to be highlighted during the ceremony.
“Joe was eternally grateful for the foundation the Academy gave him and wanted to pay it forward in any way possible,” said R-MA President Brigadier General David C. Wesley, USAF, Retired. “His legacy lives on with each child who has passed through our Middle School over the past 24 years. His example of modesty, tenacity, and generosity have been an example to our students, faculty, and staff for more than seven decades. I will remember Joe as a quiet, kindly gentleman who loved his country and our Academy. He put action behind that love and, in so doing, improved the lives of hundreds of young people for the rest of their lives.”
Born on June 19, 1931, in Washington, DC, Joe began attending R-MA in the eighth grade. He later said that it was a decision that guided the rest of his life.
During his time at R-MA, he grew in confidence and leadership, so much that during senior year, he was selected as Battalion Commander and was captain of the football team. He attended Randolph-Macon College for 1 1/2 years and left college to join the U.S. Coast Guard, spending more than three years overseas in the South Pacific.
Joe met his wife Lois on a blind date and they were married September 3, 1955. Following his time in the Coast Guard, Joe attended George Washington University and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. He and Lois relocated to Toledo, OH, where he went to work for a local construction company. Building spec houses led him to form his own construction company. Commercial construction projects including fire stations, post offices, and apartment complexes were Joe’s passion.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife, Lois; brother, David; and parents. He is survived by his children, Debbie Laycock, Kathy (Bob) Marquardt, and Jim (Shelly) Mast; his grandchildren, Mason, Paige, Laura, Bobby, Ryan, Justin, Braden, Alex, and Mackenzie; and his great-grandchildren, Bobby and Leah.