Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Last Post

This blog's title has two meanings: one, it is the last time I will post to MNGrandMaster09; the Last Post is also the British bugle call that is a precursor to our American taps...

It was a great year. Thank you to all the Brothers who showed such respect and affection to the Grand Master. I greeted so many old friends, and made so many new ones... I have truly a lifetime of memories.

I have put over 22,000 miles on my car, attending over 170 Masonic events during the year. I was at 14 table lodges, and 8 conferrals of degrees, including giving the Middle Chamber lecture four times and taking the part of King Solomon twice. Patty and I made two trips by air to each of Washington DC and Texas and one to Phoenix.

I have had a lot of fun posting my travels and thoughts on this blog. Thank you for reading, and for mentioning to me that you have seen an event mentioned here.

I must confess to succumbing to a bit of curiosity when I Googled my own blog. I was surprised to see a reference to it show up on a neo-Nazi website:

Let's see what kind of a can of worms we can stir up with a look behind the Lodge door.

It seems as if the Most Highly Anointed Grand Poobah in The Soviet Socialist State of Minnesota is a big fan of "Tolerance" and is a worshiper of all things Jewish.

If my blog can generate a disparaging remark from this ilk, I must have done something right!

Thank you, all, once again. It has truly been a pleasure to serve our Craft for a year.

See you in Lodge!

Past Grand Masters' Dinner

After the ceremony and business of the Annual Communication, and after the Installation of the new Grand Master, Past Grand Masters, Grand Lodge officers, visiting dignitaries and honored guests are invited to an informal dinner.

Songs are sung, toasts are made, stories are told and friendships solidified. It is a great event.

And my first as a Past Grand Master.

And, the world premier of the "Past Grand Master's Song." It is sung to an old Irish tune "The Wild Rover" (which, coincidentally, was performed by Ring of Kerry the night before!) (Click on the title to see the Clancy Brothers perform this song!)

When I was Grand Master and I rose for to speak,
All the Brothers there present would come to their feet.
But now my term's finished, Grand Honors are o'er
And I'll never play the Grand Master no more.

(Chorus) And it's no, nay, NEVER!
No, nay, never no more
And I'll play the Grand Master
No never, no more.

Well being Grand Master, it is a delight
But you're away from your home just about every night.
And you ride in the car till your back, it is sore,
Then it's time to play the Grand Master no more!


Well my darlin' wife, shure she says to me,
"You can have one full year for your Freemasonry.
"But when the year's ended and you come through our door,
"You may never play the Grand Master no more!"


Past Grand Master's Gift

The officers of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, 2009-2010, presented me with a wonderful remembrance gift: an exact replica of the Baal's Bridge Square.

Baal's Bridge over the River Shannon in Limerick, Ireland, was rebuilt in 1830. Found tacked to the foundation of the old bridge was a bronze square, with the inscription, "I will strive to live with love and care, upon the level and by the square." It bears the date, 1507.

The card included with the gift indicated that it the Square is Number 152 of a limited edition of 500 cast in silver from a mold taken from the original.

I have spoken and written about the Ball's Bridge Square several times during the past year. It reminds me that Freemasonry has roots deep in Ireland, as well as England.

I am speechless with gratitude for this thoughtful gift from the friends and brothers with whom I have had the pleasure of serving the Masonry in Minnesota. Thank you!

Installation of Grand Master John L. Cook, Jr.

In a most impressive ceremony, John L. Cook, Jr., was installed as Grand Master of Minnesota Masons on March 27.

It was my privilege to present the jewel to be worn by the Grand Master in the ensuing year. In presenting the jewel, I used the presentation by PGM Ray Christensen:

This is the Jewel of Minnesota Masonry, presented by the craft, to be worn by the Grand Master of Minnesota in the performance of his duties for the Craft. Its weight is a reminder of his obligations and the source of his authority.

The leather is battle worn, indicating that the humble and intense service of your predecessors is expected of those who would wear it.

The jewel has amazing clarity and value, denoting the clarity of thought demanded of you and the value the craft places in your decisions and leadership.

The badge is tarnished, not only from the errors of each of its wearers, but also from the many tears each has shed for the craft.

The Past Grand Masters join with me in the admonition to wear this badge of office with pride and honor, acting with kindness and knowledge, and above all being humble and acting with fairness to all.

Godspeed my brother!

(The photo shows Grand Master Cook with a beautiful hand-crafted gavel, presented to him prior to installation.)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ladies' Relaxation Program

Patty hosted a luncheon and relaxation and mini-spa program for 56 ladies attending the annual communication on Friday morning. Patti Lenz of BeautiControl gave a great presentation that was very much enjoyed by all.

I had a chance to stop by the luncheon and bring greetings, and thanks from all the Masons who simply could not do what they do for our fraternity without the love and support of their ladies. That is especially so for me. I do so appreciate my wife, Patty ...

Ring of Kerry

With all the bad Irish jokes and stories told during the 157th Annual Communication, I decided we had to have some good Irish music. The local band with a regional reputation, Ring of Kerry, did not disappoint.

To see this group in action, you can click on YouTube for a sampling.

Masonic Mentor Award

Tomorrow, I will present certificates to the Masters of 26 lodges that have shown a next increase in membership in 2009. In almost every instance, these exceptional lodges have a mentoring program. If not THE official Grand Lodge program, then one or two or more brothers that intuitively know the value of keeping in touch with a new brother.

I dare say that most of the Masons in this room, mostly Masonic leaders, also have had a mentor. It is a rare person who can legitimately claim that they have made themselves Masons.

I am tonight awarding the first Masonic Mentor Award. For me, it is a very personal recognition. For I, too, had a mentor.

My proficiency coach taught me more than the words to pass on to the next degree. I learned about Masonry. I learned about fellowship. I learned about commitment and dedication.

I learned about making a friend.

He pushed me – sometimes gently, sometimes with that proverbial well-placed boot – to get me active in lodge activities.

He didn’t just tell me to learn the ritual, he showed me by being Senior Deacon in the degree work whenever one was needed, and by doing the “G” lecture in the second degree better than anyone else I have ever heard.

Grand Standard Bearer Steve Saxton, would you kindly escort your dad, Worshipful Brother Orville Saxton to the podium so that I may make this presentation.

Thank you, Brother Orville, all you have taught me, and most of all, for being my friend.

I leave you with this Irish Blessing:

When the first light of sun, Bless you.
When the long day is done, Bless you.
In your smiles and your tears, Bless you.
Through each day of your years, Bless you.

(One of the photos shows me with WB Orville and his son, Grand Standard Bearer Steve Saxton. The other is with our wives.)

Masonic Sweetheart Award

My next presentation will be to a person who is involved in the work of the Grand Lodge, the Zuhrah Shrine and the Order of the Eastern Star.

Our Sweetheart of 2010 has been the editor of the Eastern Star Starlites, the Minnesota Mason from the Grand Lodge and most recently, the Zuhrah Arabian.

Bobbie Lampe has been most active in the Order of the Eastern Star including as Grand Organist in 2004-5. She has served as Worthy Matron of Granite Chapter several times. She has been an active supporter of Job’s Daughters and has served on the Board of the Minnesota Masonic Historical Society.

Bobbie plays a mean piano. Actually, it was at the Past Grand Master’s dinner last March when I knew Bobbie would be the Masonic Sweetheart this year. She found and played the Notre Dame Victory March for us!

I leave you with this Irish Blessing:

May God grant you always...
A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you. Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray, Heaven to hear you.”

(The photo was taken at the Past Grand Masters' Dinner Saturday night, where Bobbie accompanied the sing-along!)

District Representative of the Year Award

The vast majority of District Representatives are entitled to recognition for their dedication to making our Gentle Craft the best it can be. So, I am being quite presumptuous in picking out one to recognize.

My choice this year was pretty obvious to me. Robert Holley was raised a Master Mason on April 1, 1990 Griswold Lodge No. 218. He is a dual member with Golden Fleece Lodge No. 89 in Litchfield. Bob was appointed District Representative March 2009 and will serve the Craft in the coming year as Area Deputy Assistant in the Northwest area

I would like to quote the Master of Golden Fleece Lodge when he talked about Bob’s contributions to Masonry this year:

Bob has made Golden Fleece Lodge a better lodge, indeed. And for those of us who have allowed Bob to touch our hearts, he has made us better Masons and better men.

But Bob doesn’t save his passion for just this lodge. He is a true ambassador of Masonry to the world. Who better than he to spread the word and light of Masonry? He has the gift of gab, a wonderful knowledge of Masonry and he is hard not to like.

Bob, as I present you with this small token of our appreciation for your endeavors on behalf of our Beloved Craft, I end with your Master’s final words:

Bob, thank you for all you have done, all you do and thank you in advance for what I know you will continue to do.

And with this Irish Blessing:

May good luck be your friend
in whatever you do
and may trouble be always a stranger to you.

Grand Lodge Hiram Award

The Grand Lodge of Minnesota HIRAM AWARD is a singular, once-in-a-lifetime recognition presented to a brother as an earned tribute for outstanding service to Freemasonry. The Master of every constituent Lodge in Minnesota is entitled to recognize one brother with this special distinction during his term of office. The local lodge should determine the criteria and method of selection.

The Grand Master has, on occasion, awarded a Hiram from the Grand Lodge. I intend to make such an award tonight.

The Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Minnesota bestows the GRAND LODGE HIRAM AWARD upon a Mason who has served the Grand Lodge with distinction over a period of time.

In 1996, MWB Eric Neetenbeek asked a brother to give a hand on a project until a permanent replacement could be found. For over 13 years George Miller has practically single-handedly run the KidsID program for the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. I’m guessing there are dozens of brothers in the room tonight who have worked with George to put on KidsID events.

And, of course, that is far from the only Masonic duty he has performed…

George Miller, Jr. is a dual member Compass Lodge No. 265 and Minnesota River Valley Lodge No. 6. He was raised a Master Mason on March 6, 1967, at Compass Lodge No. 265.
George was honored as the 2002-2003 Grand Lodge of Minnesota Mason of the Year. He has served as Grand Chaplain and Grand Orator.
George is a Past Grand Patron Minnesota Grand Chapter OES and Past Associate Grand Guardian, Job’s Daughters. He is a Past Master both Compass and Minnesota River Valley Lodge No. 6, and has been a Life member since 2000.
In 2007, George was honored at Compass Lodge Hiram Award.

Yet George doesn’t do these things to win awards or recognition. He does them because he’s George – a Mason’s Mason and a Hiram if any Mason is.

Worshipful Brother George Miller, on behalf of the members of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota, it is with great personal pride that I present you with the Grand Lodge’s HIRAM AWARD for 2009-2010.

Thank you, George for all your years of service. I’ll leave you with an Irish blessing:

May God grant you many years to live,
for sure He must be knowing
the earth has angels all too few, and heaven is overflowing.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Masonic Charities Breakfast

The Saturday morning breakfast was sponsored this year by Minnesota Masonic Charities. We had a great meal of steak and eggs, and were treated to a wonderful video on the work of Masonic Charities produced by Grand Chaplain Steve Johnson.

After the video reviewing the programs of Charities, the Annual Giving Campaign was introduced. This should be a great way for Masons and others of any giving level to contribute to the work of Masonic Charities.

Daniel Carter Beard Award

The Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award is an honor due to members of the Masonic Lodge who act as role models and provide dedicated service to the young men in the BSA. The Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Award not only supports the Masonic relationship through the man who brought Scouting to America, but proclaims the integrity of the recipient who is honored by receiving the award.

Recipients are presented a medallion on a neck ribbon, a photo of which is shown.

This year, the Grand Lodge of Minnesota was privileged to present this prestigious award to two Minnesota Masons, Kirby Olson and Wayne Butt.

Congratulations, Brothers Mayer and Olson. You do our Fraternity proud!

Sibley Lodge No. 209 Opens Grand Lodge

It is a proud moment for a Grand Master when the brothers from his home lodge open the tyled session of the annual communication. This year, Worshipful Master Kevin Pioske and the officers of Sibley Lodge performed that duty.

These fine brothers have given me tons of support this year, and for the entire journey to become Grand Master. Just because I can't say thank you enough doesn't mean that I won't say it again:

THANK YOU, Brothers of Sibley Lodge! Job well done!

A Surprise from the DeMolay Master Councilor

DeMolay Master Councilor Talon Beck brought greetings from our young men's organization. It is so very inspiring to see how these youth leaders are so poised to bring greetings to such large groups.

Talon had a big surprise, too! At the conclusion of his remarks, he pulled a Petition for Degrees from his pocket and asked me to be his second line signer! He then met representatives from Garnett Lodge at the altar and delivered the signed petition to them.

I do hope my schedule permits me to attend at least one of Talon's degrees. He is a fine young man, and will make an outstanding Mason.

Greetings from Job's Daughters

One of the traditions of the public opening of Grand Lodge is to hear greetings from the Honored Queen and Miss Minnesota Job's Daughters. This year, those greetings were brought by Emily Niederhaus and Kelsey Wyman.

The photo of these lovely ladies was taken the night before, at the Grand Master's gathering.

Debt Paid

You may recall that MWB Craig Hummel, Grand Lodge of Iowa, challenged me to a bet on the Insight Bowl - Iowa State vs. the University of Minnesota. You may also recall that the loser was to don the school colors of the winner. And finally, you will recall that our Golden Gophers snatched defeat from the jaws of victory ...

It had been a long time, and I hadn't heard from MWB Craig, so I hoped he had forgotten the bet. "Vain hope." When invited to bring greetings from the Masons of Iowa during the public opening, he produced a jersey and quite an unusual hat for me to wear.

I suffered through perhaps 15 minutes with the ISU colors. But, when it was time to introduce Dr. Yee from the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota, I just couldn't wear it any more.

Fortunately, I just happened to have some Maroon and Gold for the occasion...

50-Year Award

I have commented before on the thrill to be present when a Mason receives a longevity award. At the Annual Communication, I had the pleasure to arrange for the presentation of a 50-year award to Past Grand Master Ralph Hultquist and a 25-year award to his son, John Hultquist.

Shown in the photo are District Representative Vern Schwalbe, yours truly, PGM Ralph and John.

It's pretty unusual to make such presentations at an annual communication, but for Masons who have contributed so mightily to our Grand Lodge, it is only appropriate.

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's Not Over Till the Paperwork is Done

And I'm having trouble finding time to blog about all the truly wonderful things at the 157th Annual Communication.

Be assured, John L. Cook, Jr. was installed as Grand Master last Saturday afternoon. It was a great ceremony, and I will blog about it soon.

Thanks for your patience. I expect to have the blogs posted this week, and then this site will likely go inactive. I'll keep you posted ...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Annual Communication Public Opening

The 157th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota started Friday morning with a public opening. The Heroes of '76 presented the colors and tributes were given to the flags of the United States and Canada.

There were presentations by Eastern Star, Job's Daughters and DeMolay. Dr. Douglas Yee made a very interesting presentation on behalf of the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota. Grand Orator Bill Callister gave the oration, which came straight from the heart.

It was a great start to the communication. I'll make a couple more blog entries on some of the special things that happened during the opening.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hospitality Room

The Grand Master has traditionally hosted a hospitality room, where guests and friends are able to mingle and continue the fellowship of the evening.

This year, the Kelly Inn has a new space for hospitality, and it worked very well.

Shown are the crack waitstaff for the event, Mark McCarthy, his sister, Carrie Zak, and brothers-in-law Chuck Kelsey and Rick Zak.

In Ireland, the pubs close at 11:00. That's when I left, but the conviviality continued....

Grand Master's Gathering

Thursday evening, the festivities of the Annual Communication were kicked off with the Grand Master's Gathering. This year, it was an informal mingling at the Herberger Room and Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame at the St Cloud Civic Center.

Patty and I were very happy to mingle with brothers and guests. There was good food and lots of good conversation and fellowship.

This bodes well for the communication....!

Checking In

I spent most of Thursday with luggage carts at the Kelly Inn in St Cloud. It's really here! Early birds and distinguished guests arrived and were greeted by PGM J.V. Christianson, Julie Neddermeyer, PGM Neil Neddermeyer and Assistant Grand Secretary, Gary Odegard.

The truck is unloaded. Hundreds of brothers and guests will, in just a few hours, assemble in the St Cloud Civic Center for the public opening.

So what am I doing putting up this blog??? I have WORK to do!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Counting Down

The Deputy Grand Master will tell you that it was only hours after my installation as Grand Master last year that I announced the number of weeks, days and hours until my term expired.

It is now down to hours.

I'm almost packed. The speeches are almost done. The agenda is almost finalized. But, ready or not, the kick-off to the annual communication is less than 24 hours away.

Patty and I will be heading to St Cloud tomorrow morning. Doug Campbell and Gary Odegard will be loading the truck at the Grand Lodge office and heading north themselves. Tomorrow will be a day of frantic activity and of asking over and again, "What else did I forget?"

But Friday morning, the public opening of the Annual Communication will begin at 9:00 a.m. and all will be well. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it)

I hope to see many of you in St. Cloud on Friday. Until then - actually, until Saturday afternoon at 1:00 - remember me in your applications to Deity.