Lawrence University is mourning the passing of Ronald Mason, an accomplished archaeologist whose influence on the university’s anthropology program continues to be felt nearly three decades after his retirement from the faculty.

Mason died Sept. 5 at age 94. His death comes shortly after the passing of his wife, Carol, who worked alongside him in his research.

Led by Margaret Tifft Janis ’71, the Ronald J. and Carol I. Mason Excellence in Anthropology Fund was established in the early 2010s. It honors the Masons while allowing former students and others to support Lawrence students in research and training opportunities in anthropology.

Mason joined the Lawrence faculty in 1961. An award-winning scholar and teacher who was foundational in developing and curating the anthropological collections at Lawrence, he retired as the Henry Merritt Wriston Professor of the Social Sciences in 1995. 

Peter Neal Peregrine, professor of anthropology, said Mason’s scholarly and research work is felt not only at Lawrence but across the region.

“His early work with students formed a foundation for understanding the prehistory of the Fox Cities area, and his later work attempted to place our local prehistory into a broader context,” Peregrine said. “He was widely recognized as one of the most important Midwestern archaeologists during his time here, and his importance to the field was reflected in his being elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.”

Mason, a recipient of Lawrence’s Excellence in Teaching Award, played a key role in establishing the university’s archaeological collection. He was the first to catalogue and professionally curate archaeological and ethnographic materials that had been accumulated through the years.

Following retirement, he continued to be active in the field, publishing frequently. He and his wife remained a constant presence on campus until recent years.

No funeral services are planned. An obituary can be found here. Gifts are welcome to the Ronald J. and Carol I. Mason Fund for Excellence in Anthropology.