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Beth Eloise Baker Mast
February 21, 2014


Beth Eloise Baker Mast, 97, died Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Bozeman, Mont., where she had lived since 2003. She was preceded in death by her parents, three siblings, her husband, Gifford, and two sons, Richard Frederick and Terrill Alan.

Beth was born on Sept. 21, 1916, in Waterloo, to the Rev. Earle A. and Grace Terrill Baker, and she spent her formative years in Mount Vernon, where her father presided as chaplain and vice president of Cornell College. She had fond memories of summers spent at the family cottage at Clear Lake with her brother, sisters, aunts and cousins. She moved to Davenport at the age of 23 to teach home economics at Sudlow Junior High School. Shortly thereafter, she met Davenport businessman and engineer Gifford Morrison Mast (1914-1972) at St. John's church, and on June 22, 1941, they were married. Together, they built a home on Kimberly Road, where they raised their six children.

Beth attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, graduating with honors in 1937, and she remained an active alumnus all of her life, serving as class agent for 32 years (1976-2008). She was a member of PEO and of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and she served on the board of directors of what is now the Vera French Community Mental Health Center. She was very active in community affairs in Davenport, playing many volunteer roles at St. John's Methodist Church and at the schools.

An avid reader and crossword enthusiast, she participated in many book clubs and completed crossword puzzles every day. Having been a cellist, pianist and singer in her youth, she also was a fan of classical music, especially Handel's Messiah, which she sang by heart and with great gusto every holiday season.

Beth was a lover of nature and especially birds, a hobby she developed in the 1970s that defined her among her family and friends. She traveled to dozens of countries and to off-the-beaten track destinations such as Galapagos, Easter Island, Malaysia, Iceland and Alaska. And she was fascinated by genealogy, spending countless hours documenting family trees and visiting cemeteries to trace the ancestry back to Cornwall, Scotland, and throughout the midwest.

Beth will be missed by all her surviving relatives, including four children, Gifford, Eric, Sara and Roderic; her 10 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

Gifts in Beth's memory may be made to: The Beth Mast Memorial Fund at Oceanic Society, a nonprofit nature conservation organization run by Beth's son, Roderic; and the Terrill Foundation, created in memory of Beth's son, Terrill Mast (1945-1998), the foundation supports scholarships to students with neurologic injuries and diseases.

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