Grebel mourns the loss of Wilbur Maust

Friday, July 4, 2014

With sadness, the Conrad Grebel University College community mourns the 

Wilbur Maust
loss of Professor Wilbur Maust on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Bill Maust was Professor of Music at Grebel for 20 years until he retired in 1996.

Professor Maust has had a positive impact on thousands of students who have studied music or performed in an ensemble in Grebel’s Music Department over the decades. “Whenever I feel busy,” explained Music Department Chair, Laura Gray, “I need only remind myself that, when Bill moved from Queen’s to chair the newly formed Music Department in 1977, he had a six-course load, was chair and undergraduate advisor, directed choirs, and established the music curriculum that is largely the framework of our program today. More importantly, he infused the program with a welcoming and hospitable spirit that we strive to maintain as the program grows. We wouldn’t have a thriving music program at UW without him. And, of course, the Vienna trips he and Mim led for decades have become legendary and have been life-changing for many students.”

Stephanie Martin, with Schola Magdalena and Kirk Elliot (a former student of Bill's from Queen's) treated Bill and 170 friends to a concert in the Grebel Chapel on June 4, featuring Machaut's La Messe de Nostre Dame. It was a fitting tribute to Bill’s appreciation of Medieval music and it was wonderful to have him hear the concert with family and friends. The college will miss Bill’s regular visits to the campus and his warm encouragement of the Music Department.  The Music and Culture trips he initiated have continued with Ken Hull taking students to London and Leipzig and Carol Ann Weaver’s journeys with students to South Africa.  There is a “Music and Culture Award fund” that provides funding for students to take these travel courses. 


Bill was grateful for the successful management of his several cancers for a 23-year period spanning the lives of his grandchildren. He finally succumbed to cancer and passed away at home in Waterloo early morning July 2, 2014 with his family around him.

He loved, and was much loved by, his wife Miriam (Pellman), his son Chris (Liz Albertson), his daughter Janice (Tim Hedrick), and his grandchildren Danika and Blayne Maust, Tessa and Willem Hedrick. Border officials were always intrigued by Bill’s birthplace—Bad Axe, Michigan—and his birthdate--April Fools’ Day 1934 (also Easter that year). His parents were Richard and Elizabeth (Gunden) Maust, and of their nine children, only Bill’s brother Clayton remains. His many nieces and nephews, both of the Maust and Pellman families, have adored their uncle.

As a young teenager Bill followed his older brother for a high school and college education in Virginia. From there he was led to one of his life-defining experiences working with refugees in post-war Europe for two years under the Mennonite Central Committee. His friendships there and his love of Vienna came together in later years as he combined these with his vocation in music, offering seminars in Vienna to students and adults for a period of 30 years. Another defining experience was his 1984 pilgrimage on the Camino to Santiago (Spain), long before the hordes of walkers travelled it in more recent years. Along the way, he introduced other pilgrims to early music notation and led them in song in chapels and monasteries. His interest in Gregorian chant and monastic life was shared with students and became integral to his busy life. Bill conducted choirs and taught vocal studies and music history at Eastern Mennonite University (Virginia), Earlham College (Indiana), Queen’s University, and Conrad Grebel University College.

 In retirement he had more time to pursue his love of gardening, renovating houses, building furniture, baking bread, and watching the Blue Jays. Heartfelt thanks to the medical community who cared for Bill both recently and over the years: the CCAC team, Dr. Jakda, Dr. Fortin, Dr. Mulkovsky, Dr. McFarlane, and Dr. Ensing.

Friends are invited to a visitation at Waterloo North Mennonite Church, 100 Benjamin Road, Waterloo on Sunday, July 6 from 3-5pm. A memorial service will be held at Waterloo North Mennonite Church on Saturday, August 9 at 11am. Condolences for the family and donations to Mennonite Central Committee or Conrad Grebel University College may be arranged through the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home, 171 King Street South, Waterloo at or 519-745-8445.

Bill Maust conducts a choir at Conrad Grebel University College