James O. Mason

James Ostermann Mason (June 19, 1930 – October 9, 2019) was an American medical doctor and public health administrator. He was the United States Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) from 1989 to 1993 and the Acting Surgeon General of the United States from 1989 to 1990. As the ASH he was also a former four-star admiral in the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. He was also a director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

James O. Mason
James O. Mason USPHS.jpg
United States Assistant Secretary for Health
In office
PresidentGeorge H.W. Bush
Preceded byRobert E. Windom
Succeeded byPhilip R. Lee
Surgeon General of the United States
In office
October 1, 1989 – March 9, 1990
PresidentRonald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Preceded byC. Everett Koop
Succeeded byAntonia Novello
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In office
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byWilliam H. Foege
Succeeded byWilliam L. Roper
Personal details
James Ostermann Mason

(1930-06-19)June 19, 1930
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
DiedOctober 9, 2019(2019-10-09) (aged 89)
EducationUniversity of Utah (BA) (MD)
Harvard University (PhD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service Public Health Service
Years of service1983–1993
RankUS Navy O10 infobox.svg Admiral

Early life and educationEdit

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Mason earned B.A. and M.D. degrees from the University of Utah. Mason received an MPH from Harvard in 1963. He also earned a DrPH[1] in public health from Harvard University. He completed this later degree at Harvard in 1967.

Mason did residencies at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Medical careerEdit

Mason was the first managing director of the LDS Church's Unified Welfare Services, directing the church's hospital system beginning in 1970 when the church moved general authorities to a position of developing policy and handing over the managing of professional departments to highered professionals. In this position he gave a talk in LDS general conference announcing the health missionary plan in 1971. He continued as head of the church's hospitals until 1975 when the church spun them off as Intermountain Healthcare to allow it to focus health resources more to assist members around the world.

From 1978 to 1979, Mason served as chair of the division of community medicine in the University of Utah's college of medicine.

Mason served as the executive director of the Utah Department of Health from 1979 until 1983, when he was named director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia; Mason held the directorship of the CDC until 1989. In 1993, he was presented with the Gorgas Medal from the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS).[citation needed]

In 1989, the U.S. Senate confirmed Mason as Assistant Secretary for Health, which made him head of the United States Public Health Service, and Acting Surgeon General. He later served as the American delegate to the World Health Organization.

LDS Church serviceEdit

In 1994, Mason was appointed as a general authority by the LDS Church, serving in the Second Quorum of the Seventy until 2000. From 2000 to 2003, Mason was president of the church's Bountiful Utah Temple.

As a young man, Mason served an LDS Church mission to Denmark. Before his appointment as a general authority, Mason served in the church as a bishop, stake president, and regional representative. In 1974, while serving as Church Commissioner for Health Services, Mason wrote a pamphlet for the church titled, "Attitudes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Toward Certain Medical Problems", which expresses the church's views on abortion, birth control, and homosexuality.[2]

Family lifeEdit

Mason married Marie Smith in 1952 in the Salt Lake Temple and they were the parents of seven children. Mason died on October 9, 2019.[3]


  1. ^ https://www.thechurchnews.com/members/2019-10-11/elder-james-o-mason-emeritus-general-authority-seventy-dies-at-age-89-163981
  2. ^ Bush, Lester E., Jr. (1993). Health and medicine among the Latter-day Saints: Science, Sense, and Scripture. Crossroad. p. 227. ISBN 0824512197. OCLC 26400043.
  3. ^ "Elder James O. Mason — emeritus General Authority Seventy — dies at age 89", Newsroom, Church News, 2019-10-11


External linksEdit