Joan Schnittker Mason

October 23, 1928September 24, 2012

Joan S. Mason

On September 24th, 2012, Joan S. Mason died peacefully after a two-month battle with cancer. Joan was born in Nashville, Kansas, the daughter of John Schnittker and Theodora Steffan. After schooling in Kansas, she earned a masters degree in Music Education from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC in the early 1960s. Joan began her teaching career in music with the Arlington County Public Schools, but soon switched to private instruction, teaching piano students at her home for close to 30 years. In addition to her skill at the piano, Joan was an accomplished singer, church organist, and choral director, who performed with the Encore Chorale and directed the Angel Choir at the Saint Charles School in Arlington, Virginia. As a community volunteer, she presented music programs at the Powhatan Nursing Home in Falls Church, Virginia for many years. Later in life, she founded the Vinson Hall Voices singing group.

Joan is survived by her husband, Ralph B. Mason, Jr., two sons, R. Bryant and Andrew J. Mason, her brothers, John A. and Jerry Schnittker, and numerous nieces and nephews. A mass followed by a reception will be held at Missionhurst, 4651 N 25th Street, Arlington, VA 22207 on Saturday, October 27th, 2012 starting at 11 a.m. A remembrance service is planned for the chapel of the Vinson Hall Retirement Community, 6251 Old Dominion Drive, McLean, VA 22101 on Sunday, October 28th, 2012 from 3 p.m. until 4 p.m., with a gathering of family and friends to follow until 6 p.m. A mass and burial will be held in Cunningham, Kansas at a later date.

The family would like to extend their appreciation to the many friends who offered their companionship to Joan throughout her life, allowing her to pursue her love of family, friends, and music. [In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible donations may be made to the "Joan Mason Memorial Fund -Music" at the Saint Charles School. Please make checks payable to St. Charles School, note the name of the memorial fund in the memo section, and mail to the St. Charles School, 3299 N. Fairfax Drive, Arlington VA 22201. Donations may also be made on-line at


  • Mass of Christian Burial Saturday, October 27, 2012
  • Remembrance Service Sunday, October 28, 2012
  • Memorial Gathering Sunday, October 28, 2012

Joan Schnittker Mason

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Julie Atkins

October 29, 2012

It was my privilege to participate with Joan in the St. Agnes handbell choir, to share her music ministry at Marymount and St.Charles, and to enjoy performances of the Encore Chorale in which she sang and sometimes substituted for the director at warm-ups and practices.

Joan was always warm and kind -- truly a lovely and loving person. We are all better for having known her.

Charles Coles

October 27, 2012

What can I say about Mrs. Mason (Joan)? Several things have gone through my mind. First, I was going to write about something that has circulated on the internet over the years and it was even written on Greeting Cards. It is about folks that you meet. They make an impact either good or bad. Whether the impact is good or bad, some stay for a short while and some stay longer. I can say of Joan that her impact was good and even with her stay after our meeting was over thirty years ago it was still too short. When I think of Joan, I think of Bob Hopes' theme song, “Thanks for the Memories”.

I will miss getting the notes for the little things that I would do for her, like sending her a birthday cards. I will miss chatting with her when I would call Ralph. I will always remembered going to the Encore Concerts and Joan will be seating on the front row and she would let me know where Ralph was sitting. One of my best memories was meeting Ralph and Joan for dinner at Vinson Hall. I arrived a little early and got to see Joan in action during a Vinson Hall Choir rehearsal. I think the song was “Oh What A Glorious Morning” from the musical Oklahoma. She told the group that it was not enough to get the words and music correct; they had to insert feelings and the correct emotional inflections while singing.

Thanks Ralph, it was because of you that I got to meet Joan. I will have great memories of her. Memories like when I first met her at one of the JDSSC Christmas Party, that time her group did a Concert at the Kennedy Center, the many Encore Concerts, the times we visited Al, and the time I surprised her when the Arlington Seniors were in Richmond.

My deepest sypathy and heart felt thoughts to the family. Joan will always be in my thoughts.

Beverly Simons

October 24, 2012

I will always remember Joan's beautiful smile and joie de vivre and the special light in Ralph's eyes whenever he spoke of her. My deepest sympathy to her family and friends.

Bill Tupper

October 12, 2012

I had several conversations with Joan on different topics, some thought-provoking topics, and found her to be a very interesting person. I watched her direct a choir rehersal at Vision Hall at which she illustrated to those present her talents and expertise in music that she had developed throughout many years of her life. I will miss her as will many who knew her.

Randy Kuklis

October 11, 2012

I'll remember Joan as a very elegant individual, one who took pride and joy in her musical abilities and her family. Watching her rehearse one evening with the choir at Vinson Hall, she really strived for perfection. She really pushed the group to learn their respective parts. She was tough! Rest peacefully Joan.

Judy Finn

October 11, 2012

Joan was a classy, talented woman who will be missed by the many people whose lives she touched. She was always kind and gracious with a definite spark of playfulness. My deepest sympathy goes to Ralph, Bryant, Andy, and all her family. She will always live in my heart and memory.

Clara Steffan

September 30, 2012

My deepest sympathy to the family. Joan will not be forgotten.