Marilyn Mason grew up in Alva, OK
Photo (1925) of infant Marilyn Mason with her grandmother May Clark Mason and grandfather Harry E. Mason.

Harry started the Alva State Bank in 1904, which today still uses its original motto, “Older than Oklahoma”. The Bank later managed to survive the twin challenges of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, due to the determination of Harry and his son, Merritt C. Mason (Marilyn’s father).

Photo titled “Summer of 1942 – Alva Okla, our backyard”, showing mother Myrtle Else Mason with her three children: James, Carolyn, and Marilyn (at age 17).

Myrtle was the organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Alva, and Marilyn remembered playing for church when she was so young she could not reach the organ’s pedals. Myrtle instilled in her daughter a love of music and a strong connection with religion and churches.

She received her degrees from the University of Michigan and Union Theological Seminary
1948 photo of Marilyn Mason playing the organ at Hill Auditorium (Photo by Stanley Yoder).

Marilyn studied at the University of Michigan, completing her Bachelor of Music in 1946 and Master of Music in 1947 (her two degree recitals at Hill Auditorium are two programs below). At U.M., she studied with Palmer Christian, who was a major musical influence on her, but he passed away on Feb. 19, 1947 (see memorial program from 1949 below). She eventually became the organ professor at U.M. in his stead.

Early University of Michigan Performances
1954 photo of Marilyn Mason playing the organ at Riverside Church.

Dr. Mason received her Doctorate in Sacred Music from Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1953. Her connections with New York City were strong and included recitals at:

Union Theological Seminary
Riverside Church
St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University