Walter Jost (89) died at Kidron Bethel Village in North Newton on Thursday, March 10, 2016. He was born on February 11, l927 to Dan G. and Bena (Goertz) Jost in Hillsboro, Kansas.
He grew up on a farm near Hillsboro. At an early age, he began to show an ability and passion for music which continued throughout his life. He attended Hillsboro High School, graduating in 1945. He went on to Bethel College, focusing on piano and voice.
Following his graduation from Bethel in 1949, he obtained a master’s degree at what is now Wichita State University. His first teaching position was at Freeman Junior College in Freeman, South Dakota. It was here that he met fellow faculty member Mary Ann Heiser. They were married in Fisher, Illinois on August 12, 1960.
After teaching in Freeman for seven years, Walt continued his education at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Upon completing the course work toward his degree, he began his thirty-two year teaching career at Bethel College in 1960. He completed his dissertation and was granted a DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) degree in 1966.
Walt’s and Mary Ann’s lives were enriched by the births of their children, Scott (1962) and Lora (1964.) Family was an important priority to Walt. He maintained an active interest in and support for his children and their spouses and for his grandchildren until his death.
At Bethel College, Walt directed choirs and ensembles, served as musical director for annual opera productions, taught conducting classes, gave voice lessons, and led choir tours throughout the U. S., Canada and several European countries. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, he directed church and community choirs and served as a frequent guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator and workshop leader.
Upon his retirement in 1992, Walt continued his love affair with music, directing church and community choirs, listening to music, and playing piano. He and Mary Ann visited a number of places throughout the country, and enjoyed many Kansas day trips. He delivered Meals on Wheels, and chaired the Life Enrichment Committee at Bethel College for 17 years.
As his hearing deteriorated, he was no longer able to enjoy playing or listening to music. Visiting with friends became difficult, and he was forced to “reinvent” himself. He began to read much more widely and maintained his life-long interest in world events. He followed the careers of his many former students with much interest.
Walt is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, his son Scott Jost and wife Kathy Holm of Harrisonburg, VA, and his daughter Lora Jost and husband Chuck Epp of Lawrence, KS., his grandchildren Evan Jost, June Holm, and Nicholai Jost-Epp, and four nieces and nephews and their spouses. He was preceded in death by his parents, Dan and Bena Jost, his sister and brother-in-law Esther and Wesley Bartel, and an infant brother, Arthur.
Visitation with the family will be from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. Thursday in Menno Hall at Kidron Bethel Village (3001 Ivy Drive) in North Newton. The Memorial Service will be at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 1 at the Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton.
Memorial gifts may be made to the Bethel College Music Department, or to the Bethel College Mennonite Church music program.