The Northern Light November 2021

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NOVEMBER 2021 VOL. 52 | NO. 4

Sovereign Grand Commander

Peter J. Samiec

A M A G A Z I N E O F 3 2 ˚ S C O T T I S H R I T E F R E E M A S O N R Y TM




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November 2021



7 An Eventful 2021 Annual Session 8 New Leaders of the Rite 11 Honors/Awards 14 Commander Glattly

Inside this issue…

4 Leadership Report

Greetings My Brothers

6 From the Editor’s Desk

To Those Who Keep Us Safe

13 Southern Jurisdiction Scottish Rite Journal


23 Sovereign Grand Commader

Peter J. Samiec

Honoring our Front Line Heroes

Announces Retirement 15 Staff Updates


CULTURE 16 “Friendship in Adversity”

The Masonick Fire Society 18 Nearly 200-Year-Old Scottish Rite Document Conserved



A Journey of 1,000 Steps

20 HAUTS GRADES ACADEMY 32 26th Degree

Franklin, Lincoln, Pickett and Me

26 Meet Brother Steven

Stefanakos, 33°: First Responder at Ground Zero

28 Becoming a Policeman

a Lifelong Dream for Brother Joshua Nytch

C CHARITIES 34 When This Veteran Had

Nowhere Else to Turn, You Were There

30 A Life of Service: Fire Chief

and Brother Robert Pursley

About This Issue The Northern Light is pleased to welcome our new Sovereign Grand Commander, Brother Pete Samiec, 33°, and our new Grand Lieutenant Commander, Brother Mark Roth, 33°, who were both elected at our Annual Session in Cleveland. We congratulate our new Honorary 33rd Degree Masons as well. The fall campaign honors our first responders. In this issue, we are pleased to feature three of the thousands within our ranks who have made it their mission to keep us safe. Thanks to all of you who exemplify our Core Value of Service to Humanity every day as front line heroes. We hope you enjoy this issue of The Northern Light.

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M 36 39 44 45

MEMBERSHIP A National Treasure Around the Session Masons Go Over the Edge Valleys of Excellence

M MASONRY 46 Youth Advisor of the Year

Recipient Recognized at Annual Session


Greetings My Brothers

by Peter J. Samiec, 33˚, Sovereign Grand Commander

It is an honor to write my first message to you as your new Sovereign Grand Commander. It is the privilege of my life to take on this role. What could be more fulfilling than to serve an organization in which each man vows to keep at his core the values of Reverence for God, Devotion to Country, Justice, Tolerance, Integrity, and Service to Humanity. As Freemasons, we rely on these resolute principles to guide us as we strive to be steadfast, worthy, and true. Our Craft demands much of us, and I assume this office with a sense of honor, vigor, and purpose—and a huge dose of gratitude and humility. As we undergo a period of transition in leadership, there is always concern about the future. What can we expect from the new Sovereign Grand Commander? The question is filled with anticipation. I can assure you of this: In the coming months, the momentum of the NMJ will continue and we will move forward unabated. In November, we cordially invite you to the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s new exhibition, “The Masonic Hall of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History.” This major installation will introduce visitors to 10 inspiring Freemasons who made their unique mark on history, our Fraternity, and mankind. Each year, new inductees will be added to the exhibition.


As we undergo a period of transition in leadership, there is always concern about the future. Valley Reunions are being re-energized across the jurisdiction. However, for members and candidates who cannot attend an in-person event but want to receive our degrees and be part of all we have to offer, we are presenting Virtual Reunions on November 13 and 18. A recent candidate described the Virtual Reunion this way: “It was absolutely brilliant! I feel privileged, honored, and grateful to be a member.” Whether in person or online, our

Brotherhood will again unite in fraternity and friendship this fall.

My passion for our Fraternity, coupled with the energy and vision of our staff, will keep us moving forward. I am very proud of our fall membership campaign: Honoring Our Frontline Heroes. The past few years have shown us how vital first responders are to our communities. Taking the time to spotlight these Brethren means a lot to me; a number of my friends have served in various frontline capacities, and their commitment and bravery has always been an inspiration. In my former role as the Grand Almoner, I came to know the stories of several first responder Brethren facing personal crises resulting from job-related issues. Being able to facilitate aid to these Brothers made me proud to be a Scottish Rite Mason time and time again. We are living through one of the most invigorating and innovative times in the history of Scottish Rite. My passion for our Fraternity, coupled with the energy and vision of our staff, will keep us moving forward. We will not settle for status quo. We will

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continue to aspire and build. We will continue to both lead and serve. 2022 will be no less rich in programming and member service. Listening to and taking care of our members remains our focus. And, finally, I extend a sincere thank you to former Commander Glattly for his visionary and trend-setting term of office, his years of service to our Scottish Rite, and for helping set a successful leadership transition. I wish him and lady Monica all the best in the next chapter of their lives.

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To Those Who Keep Us Safe

by PJ Roup, 33˚, Editor, Active for Pennsylvania


N O RT HERN LI G H T A magazine of 32˚ Scottish Rite Freemasonry

November 2021 | Vol. 52 | No. 4 SOVEREIGN GRAND COMMANDER Peter J. Samiec, 33° EXECUTIVE EDITOR Linda Patch

stepped up again, putting themselves in harm’s way to try and make our world safe. This issue of The Northern Light is dedicated to those heroes—the firefighters, police, medics, doctors, and nurses whose work usually goes unnoticed until we need them most. They leave their homes daily never knowing what horrors may lie ahead. They may do it out of a sense of duty, a love for their fellows, or because it is their true calling, but they always do it. And they keep doing it even when it is difficult, dangerous, and exhausting.


of us old enough to remember can tell you precisely where we were on that sunny September day 20 years ago. We were sipping our morning coffee, commuting to work. We were in school or at the dentist. You will never forget how you felt as you watched the horrible scene unfold. Nor will you forget the heroism of those who rushed in to save the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Recently, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, our front-line workers have

At the 9/11 Memorial Glade at Ground Zero, a plaque sums it up far better than I can: This Memorial Glade is dedicated To those whose actions in our time of need Led to their injury, sickness, and death Responders and recovery workers Survivors and community members Suffering long after September 11, 2001 From exposure to hazards and toxins That hung heavy in the air Here and beyond this site known as Ground Zero And at the Pentagon And near Shanksville, Pennsylvania In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Here we honor the tens of thousands From across America and around the world Who came to help and to heal Whose selflessness and resolve Perseverance and courage Renewed the spirit of a grieving city Gave hope to the nation And inspired the world. This fall, the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction celebrates our first responders. The next time you visit your Valley, be sure to take a moment to give thanks to those who keep us safe.


EDITOR PJ Roup, 33° CREATIVE DIRECTOR Rodney E. Boyce, 33° CONTENT MANAGER Joann Williams-Hoxha DIRECTOR OF DESIGN Matt Blaisdell, 32° COMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE Thomas R. Labagh, 33°, Chairman Richard V. Travis, 33° Donald R. Heldman, 33° Donald G. Duquette, 33° PJ Roup, 33° J. Brian McNaughton, 33° SUPREME COUNCIL, 33° Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A. THE NORTHERN LIGHT (ISSN 1088-4416) is published quarterly in February, May, August, and November by the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A., as the official publication. Printed in U.S.A. Periodicals postage paid at Boston, MA, and at additional mailing offices.   POSTMASTER Send address changes to The Northern Light PO Box 519, Lexington, MA 02420-0519 MAILING ADDRESS PO Box 519, Lexington, MA 02420-0519 EDITORIAL OFFICE 33 Marrett Road (Route 2A), Lexington, MA 02421 phone: 781-862-4410 email: WEBSITE: @scottishritenmj @TNLMagazine Copyright ©2021 by Trustees of the Supreme Council of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A.



An Eventful 2021 Annual Session

by Joann Williams-Hoxha, Content Manager

From August 27 to 31, Active, Active Emeritus, and Honorary Members of the Supreme Council of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction gathered in Cleveland, Ohio, for the 209th Annual Meeting. In addition to the selection of new Deputies and Active Members and officer elections and re-elections, Illustrious Bro. Peter J. Samiec, 33°, was named the new Sovereign Grand Commander, taking the place of David A. Glattly, 33°, who announced his retirement. Deliberations were conducted among the various bodies charged with the operation of Scottish Rite. Distinguished and honorary guests from the Southern Jurisdiction, Prince Hall, DeMolay, and foreign dignitaries representing Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Romania, and Bulgaria also took part in business meetings and celebrations. On Tuesday, August 31, a recordbreaking 277 candidates of the classes of 2020 and 2021 received the 33rd degree at the Cleveland Public Auditorium.

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AUGUST 28 -31, 2021

For tho se abo ut to Roc k WE INVIT E Y

OU! Join us in Cleve land, Ohio this year as we Rock Rite our way throu gh our 2021 & Annu al Sessi on.

Whet her you’r e a 32° or 33°, Scott ishRi teNM go to /Annu al-Se ssion to learn abou t this year’ more s Sessi on and how to regis ter.




New Leaders of the Rite The Active Membership of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction (NMJ) proudly announces the elected leadership of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. The following installations took place on August 31, 2021, at the Annual Session in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ill. Peter J. Samiec, 33°


This change in leadership comes as Ill. David A. Glattly, 33°, announced his retirement from the position. Commander Samiec has served as Grand Lieutenant Commander under both Commander John William McNaughton and Commander Glattly. He has served as the Grand Almoner since 2015. He was Deputy for New York from 2008-13.

Ill. Mark C. Roth, 33°


Ill. Brother Roth, 33°, has been elected Grand Lieutenant Commander. He served as Deputy for New Hampshire for the past eight years. We will be featuring more about Brother Mark in our February issue.

Ill. Brother Samiec accepts the honor and responsibility to lead the Scottish Rite at an exciting time of reinvigoration and growth for the Fraternity. He extends his sincere thanks to Past Sovereign Grand Commander Glattly for his leadership and dedication to the Scottish Rite during his term. Commander Samiec’s vision for Scottish Rite, NMJ can be found in his message on page 4. To learn more about your new Commander, read the bio and our Q&A beginning on page 23.


Ill. Walter F. Wheeler, 33°

GRAND TREASURER GENERAL Ill. Brother Wheeler also serves as Deputy for Michigan and the Director of Charities for the Scottish Rite, NMJ.

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New State Deputies

Ill. Richard W. Elliot, 33°


CONNECTICUT Ill. Kevin J. Hecht, 33°, will serve

INDIANA Ill. Paul C. St. Pierre, 33°,

Ill. Brother Elliot also serves as the Executive Director of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library.

as Deputy for Connecticut, replacing Ill. Bruce T. Work, 33°, who retired. Brother Hecht, 33°, also serves as Director of Human Resources for the Supreme Council, Scottish Rite, NMJ.

will serve as Deputy for Indiana, replacing Ill. Keith Hoskins, 33°, who retired.

Ill. Douglas R. Policastro, 33°

MASSACHUSETTS Ill. George F. Hamilton, 33°, will



Ill. Brother Policastro also serves as Deputy for New Jersey.

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serve as Deputy for Massachusetts replacing Ill. Donald M. Moran, 33°, who retired.

Ill. G. Michael Morris, 33°, will serve as Deputy for New York, replacing Ill. David P. Spencer, 33°, who retired.



New State Deputies


New Actives

NEW YORK Ill. John R. Patterson Jr., 33°,

NEW HAMPSHIRE Ill. Kenneth A. Clay Jr., 33°, will

serve as Deputy for New Hampshire, replacing Mark C. Roth, 33°, who has been elected Grand Lieutenant Commander.

OHIO Ill. Donald R. Heldman, 33°, will

serve as Deputy for Ohio, replacing Douglas N. Kaylor, 33°, who retired.

was elected as an Active Member for New York, replacing Peter J. Samiec, 33°. He was installed in Lexington in October.

New Grand Almoner NEW YORK Ill. Richard J. Powell, 33°, will

serve as an Active Member for New York, and was installed at Annual Session in Cleveland on August 31.

VERMONT Ill. William “Sandy” Karstens IV, 33°, will serve as Deputy for

Vermont, replacing Ill. Donald G. Duquette, 33°, who retired.

Ill. Alan R. Heath, 33°, was appointed as the new Grand Almoner, taking the place of Sovereign Grand Commander Peter J. Samiec. Ill. Brother Heath is an Active Member for Maine. 10

NEW JERSEY Ill. Larry S. Plasket, 33°, will

serve as an Active Member for New Jersey, and was installed at Annual Session in Cleveland on August 31. The Northern Light


Retiring Active Members

Ill. David G. Boring, 33°,

became an Active Emeritus Member for Michigan.

The following changes were made constitutionally by age requirement:

Ill. George Nakonetschny, 33°, became an Active Emeritus Member for Pennsylvania.

Ill. Peter Smith, 33°, became

an Active Emeritus Member for Massachusetts.

Honors/Awards YOUTH ADVISOR OF THE YEAR was presented to Crissy Willeke – see page 46.

HARRY S. TRUMAN AWARD was presented to Sara Wyatt – see page 12.

MEDAL OF HONOR Sovereign Grand Commander Glattly presented Ill. George Nakonetschny, 33°, with the Medal of Honor in gratitude for his tireless charitable efforts for Supreme Council. Ill. Bro. Nakonetschny served as Chairman of the Benevolences Committee and is an Active Emeritus Member for Pennsylvania – see photo on right.

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Ill. Sammy Lee Davis, 33°, Receives Gourgas Medal

by Linda Patch, Director of Marketing and Communications

Supreme Council Events Manager Receives Harry S. Truman Award by Joann Williams-Hoxha, Content Manager

The Gourgas Medal, the most distinguished honor conferred by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, NMJ, was awarded on October 6, 2021, to Ill. Sammy Lee Davis, 33°. Brother Davis is a military hero who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in the Vietnam War. While serving as private first class in Cai Lay, Brother Davis performed an extraordinary act of bravery by saving three American soldiers from an enemy barrage. Despite having a broken back, a perforated kidney, and multiple other gunshot wounds, Brother Davis summoned the strength to swim across a river amidst a battle with 1,500 enemy soldiers and carry three of his fellow Americans back to safety. The award was presented by former Sovereign Grand Commander, Ill. John Wm. McNaughton, 33°, at the Valley of Indianapolis. The medal is named in honor of John James Joseph Gourgas, 33°, the founder of our Supreme Council, and known to the Craft as the "Conservator” of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. Brother Davis was also honored by the Scottish Rite, NMJ, in 2018 when the Sammy Lee Davis, 33°, Defender of Peace and Freedom Recognition

Program for Veterans was established. The recognition is offered to NMJ members honorably discharged from the United States Military or Uniformed Services. Also in 2018, the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite, NMJ, conferred the Daniel Tompkins Medal on Brother Davis for outstanding and exemplary service to his country and the Masonic Fraternity at large. The Tompkins Medal allows the Scottish Rite to honor distinguished contributions not often witnessed by the general membership. The Gourgas Medal may be conferred by the Supreme Council (or by the Sovereign Grand Commander) upon a member of our Jurisdiction, or of any other Jurisdiction with which we are in amity, in recognition of notably distinguished service in the cause of Freemasonry, country, or humanity.


a dinner event in Cleveland

on Friday, August 27, then Sovereign Grand Commander David A. Glattly presented Supreme Council Events Manager Sara Wyatt a first-of-its-kind Harry S. Truman medal. Introduced last year, the Illustrious Harry S. Truman Award for Outstanding Citizenship may be conferred by the Supreme Council or by the Sovereign Grand Commander upon any person, male or female, for outstanding leadership and citizenship in the recipient's locality, state, or country. This prestigious award also may be conferred upon a person rendering exemplary and conspicuous service to the Scottish Rite or Freemasonry at large. Many of you may recognize Sara as the woman responsible for organizing our Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction events including, but not limited to, Annual Meeting. Congratulations Sara!

Past Sovereign Grand Commander John Wm. McNaughton, Brother Davis, and his wife Dixie


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n Summer 2020, Supreme Council, SJ, Librarian, Larissa Watkins, and Chris Ruli, 32º, District of Columbia Grand Lodge and Washington, D.C., Valley Historian, digitized the entire run of The New Age Magazine (as the Scottish Rite Journal was known until 1989). When founded in 1904, the magazine contained not only Masonic articles but general-interest features more similar in style to The Saturday Evening Post than to a specifically Masonic publication, including short stories (“White Rose”), poetry (“The Magical Kiss”), a regular Music and Drama column, and even advertisements for Shredded Wheat and the Studebaker Electric (an early battery-powered automobile). This broad-spectrum approach is evident on the covers of the early years, featuring artwork in Art Nouveau style and employing figures from the zodiac which corresponded to the month of each issue. Despite these early differences to the present-day Journal, the New Age of the early years prefigured later events. One poem, “The Sphinx” by Clarence H. Urner (Nov. 1904 issue) foreshadowed eleven years later that the House of the Temple in Washington, D.C., would install two monumental sphinxes to guard the entry of the building. “What is Morn,/ Hot Noon, black night, or any lengthening hour,” the poet asks, “When Egypt lives within that steadfast frown?” In a 1905 feature anticipating the Journal’s current Masonic Traveler

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series, Warren Harper journeys to the Jungfrau Mountain summit of the Swiss Alps: “where sturdy mountaineers in the past have perished in this Arctic wilderness of snow, you and I will take our ease and make merry over little Swiss cakes and beer.” Harper praised the “modern Aladdins, the engineers, [who] have again rubbed their lamps” to make possible “the wonderful electric road ascending the grizzly veteran of the Oberland Alps […]” This focus on developments in technology is reflected in another feature which appeared in the New Age’s early years, to wit: popular articles on science. John Bozeman, a scholar of early technology, appraises a March 1912, ten-page article on astronomical research called “The Great ‘Eyes’ of Science.” Dr. Bozeman writes: “While the article speaks of the immense scientific value of [large telescopes] and similar instruments, another motivation is given as well: the quest to see Martians and their works [and the potential] ways that humans might someday communicate with the beings who could live on Mars […]” Within a few years of its 1904 premiere, The New Age Magazine gradually moved away from the general-interest format, and it instead concentrated increasingly on articles analyzing Masonic symbolism, history, and organizational structure. In the New Age’s next wave, according to Br. Ruli, “the publication adopted a ‘Masonic activist’ tone. Masonic activism became organizational policy in 1920,

Cover of the August/September 1904 New Age Magazine in Art Nouveau style

when the Supreme Council, S.J., publicly supported developing a federal Department of Education (something which did not occur until decades later) […]” Then in the 1920’s, the magazine’s articles began alternating between a metaphysical Masonic focus and pieces dealing with patriotic as well as more on-the-ground topics, a pattern the Scottish Rite Journal continues today. Thanks to the recent digitization efforts by the House of the Temple Library, a greater appreciation of the unique development of the New Age, the Southern Jurisdiction Supreme Council’s “first literary magazine,” is now possible. - Mark Dreisonstok, 32º, KCCH,

Managing Editor, the Scottish Rite Journal



Commander Glattly Announces Retirement Dear Scottish Rite Brothers, I want you to know that, at our Supreme Council Session in Cleveland, Monica and I announced our retirement as the Sovereign Grand Commander and the First Lady of Scottish Rite in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. I know this is earlier than planned, as we are just completing our fourth year.

by David A. Glattly, 33˚, Past Sovereign Grand Commander

As we began our journey in 2017, we promised to give our effort of 100% for the NMJ, and we did that. In 2019, we spent 190 hotel nights on the road, and we enjoyed it. I’m not complaining, as we knew what we signed up for and we gave our effort. In 2020, we started out as a ball of fire, with our Deputies Retreat, our Arizona visit, the Conference of Grand Masters, the George Washington birthday celebration in Alexandria, and our month-long visit to our brothers in Florida. Then a thing called COVID hit and cut short our Florida visit. As with mostly everyone, our travels ended, but our focus became launching our social media campaign, starting with Thursday Night at the Rite and with our Virtual Reunions. We worked locally to present our Scottish Rite, NMJ, to the Jurisdiction and the world through our social media. Thanks to our amazing staff, we were able to keep the NMJ very much alive through the COVID restrictions. When 2021 began, Monica and I were energized and ready to hit the road as restrictions lifted. Early on, we were faced with health issues that slowed us down and drew our attention to the issues at hand. It made us think about the vulnerability of life, and what is most important. We did our best to re-energize and looked toward our busy schedule in the fall. But another health issue faced us. With this, and our concern about ourselves for the future, the need to slow down made sense to us. Thus, the personal decision to retire and enjoy a slower pace in life.


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Staff Updates

by Joann Williams-Hoxha, Content Manager

We will miss seeing so many of you on a regular basis and our enjoyable visits to the many Valleys. You have been very kind to us and we loved expanding our friendships throughout the Rite! Please pardon us as we step aside from our duties. I am very proud of where we have helped lead our NMJ in the past four years! We have accomplished so much, with our staff and volunteers, to become an outstanding Masonic organization that has become the talk of the town. Each of you has been an important part of our success and of our future. Please continue to charge ahead and pick up the torch to lead us to greater goals! I wish my close friend and successor, Illustrious Pete Samiec, the very best for his term! Pete brings great skill and leadership to the NMJ and is the right man to take over as our Sovereign Grand Commander. Please support Pete as you did me, and our Scottish Rite will grow to greater heights. Monica and I will still be around, taking a back seat, but rooting you all on to enrich and strengthen our beloved Scottish Rite! Best fraternal regards,

David A. Glattly, 33° Past Sovereign Grand Commander

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John Brian McNaughton promoted to Director of Program Management Supreme Council is pleased to announce the promotion of Ill. Brother John Brian McNaughton, 33°, to the role of Director of Program Management. Brother McNaughton, 33°, assumed this role on July 1, 2021. He has worked for Supreme Council in many capacities since October 2013, supporting Supreme Council’s websites, serving as a Valley leader, and managing additional behindthe-scenes operations. Brother McNaughton, 33°, is also a Supreme Council Active Member for the state of Indiana. In addition to continuing to manage Scottish Rite, NMJ’s websites, his new role involves the extension of Scottish Rite educational programming and implementing strategic solutions to improve upon the ongoing delivery of these programs.

New Charities Coordinator MacLean Rankin As Scottish Rite bids a fond farewell to Mary Ann Bichajian, who retired on September 30, 2021, we welcome Brother MacLean “Mac” Rankin to the position. Most recently, Brother Rankin served as administrative assistant for the Valley of Boston, where he was the first face seen when entering the office and helped their programs run smoothly. Brother Mac’s fraternal career began at the age of 14, when he joined DeMolay in Massachusetts. He was also raised as a Master Mason in Saint George Lodge in Brockton, Massachusetts. He plans on joining Scottish Rite in November of this year through the Valley of Boston.



“Friendship in Adversity” The Masonick Fire Society In the 1700s and 1800s, the danger of fire was ever-present in cities and towns. Groups of town residents often formed fire companies or societies to fight fires in their neighborhoods. In 1789, Freemasons in Gloucester, Massachusetts, formed the Masonick Fire Society, which “aimed to be helpful to each other in extinguishing [fires in Gloucester], and in saving and taking the utmost care of each other’s goods.” This particular society required that each member was “an approved Mason.” The group’s motto, “Friendship in Adversity,” is painted on this leather fire bucket, owned by Masonick Fire Society member Zachariah Stevens (1763-1846). The Masonick Fire Society required that each member “always keep ready, two good Leather Buckets, and two strong bags.” Before the advent of pumpers, hydrants, and hoses, householders fought fires with bucket brigades. Residents lined up and passed buckets from hand to hand to try and extinguish a blaze. During the 1700s and early 1800s, prosperous households had at least a couple of buckets, like this one, at the ready in case of fire.  Bearing their owner’s name, these buckets were returned to the homeowner when the fire was over. Symbols and other information showed that a bucket’s owner belonged to a mutual aid society such as the Masonick Fire Society in Gloucester. If needed, the “strong bags” would have been used to remove valuable items from a home threatened by fire. According to the group’s rules and orders, published in 1786, the Masonick Fire Society was to have a “Watch Word” known only by


by Ymelda Rivera Laxton, Assistant Curator, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library

of Fame: Extraordinary Freemasons in American History.” Have questions or comments? Email Ymelda Rivera Laxton, Assistant Curator, at

members. They met on the second Tuesday of January, April, July, and October to monitor supplies and choose moderators and clerks. The group’s mission illustrates the longstanding Masonic commitment to fellow Brethren.

“Always keep ready, two good Leather Buckets, and two strong bags.” Zachariah Stevens, a veteran of the Massachusetts militia, was a member of Tyrian Lodge in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He had this leather bucket painted with his name, a square and compasses, two clasped hands, the Society’s motto, and the year 1799— possibly the year that he joined the Masonick Fire Society. Steven’s fire bucket will be on view in the upcoming exhibition at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library “The Masonic Hall

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(right) Fire Bucket, 1799. Probably Gloucester, Massachusetts. Special Acquisitions Fund, 81.48. (below) Detail.

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Nearly 200-Year-Old Scottish Rite Document Conserved

by Jeffrey Croteau, Director of the Van Gorden-Williams Library and Archives


Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library recently had an early Scottish Rite document from the 1820s professionally conserved.

The list includes members’ place of residence and the number of degrees that they received in the lodge. Unsurprisingly, the majority of members are from the Albany area. Two names in particular are striking.

The Conservation Work

Richard P.G. Wright (1773?-1847)—listed as R.P.G. Wright—was a Black man who became a Mason in African Lodge No. 459 in Boston in 1794. Upon moving to Schenectady, he affiliated with two predominantly white Masonic lodges and joined a Mark lodge. Wright was a barber by trade and an abolitionist who was active in the Underground Railroad in Schenectady. He was also the father of the Reverend Theodore Sedgwick Wright (1797-1847), also a Black abolitionist who, like his father, was a member of Schenectady’s predominantly white Masonic lodges. R.P.G. Wright, who joined the Ineffable Lodge of Perfection in 1820 or 1821 and served as its Grand Treasurer in 1822, is likely one of the earliest (if not the earliest) Black men to participate in Scottish Rite Freemasonry in the United States.

The nearly 200-year-old document, shown here and described in greater detail below, is a sheet of wove paper with ink handwriting on it. Before treatment, the document was wrinkled, misaligned, and had tears and losses which were previously repaired with glassine tape. The Library & Archives hired Bryan Owen, a professional paper conservator, to perform the conservation work. Owen first tested the paper substrates and ink to determine the effectiveness of the ultimate course of treatment. He then dry surface cleaned the document to remove any dirt. Using moisture, he removed the glassine tape. With the tape removed, Owen realigned the tears and repaired them with Japanese paper and wheat starch paste. Finally, Owen humidified and flattened the document.

The Importance of the Document This document contains a list of the 54 Masons who received the degrees in the Ineffable Lodge of Perfection in Albany, New York, between 1820 and 1826. The document itself was likely created between 1826 and 1830.


written, the member had passed away. But next to Blake’s name, someone has added the word “comedian.” Blake was an actor, a playwright, and a stage manager. At the height of his career, Blake was believed to be the highest

Another name on the list is William Rufus Blake (1805-1863) whose residence is listed as New York City. Some of the names on the list are annotated with the word “dead,” to indicate that, at the time the list was Before treatment view of List of members of the Ineffable Lodge of Perfection, between 1826-1830. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 430.006.

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The Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives is located in Lexington, Massachusetts, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library and is open to the public.

paid stage actor in America. In his 1901 book, A Group of Comedians, William L. Keese notes that Blake “acted during the winter of 1823 in Albany, playing a round of light comedy parts." This may have coincided with Blake joining the

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Ineffable Lodge of Perfection. This document has been digitized! If you want to get an up-close look at it, visit show/1164.

a question or need ? Have more info? Drop us a line at or give us a call at 781-457-4109. After treatment view of List of members of the Ineffable Lodge of Perfection, between 1826-1830. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, SC 430.006. Photo by Owen Conservation.




A Journey of 1,000 Steps 20

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by Yasser Al-Khatib 33°, MSA, HGA Chairman of the Hauts Grades Academy Advisory Board

Many are familiar with Lao Tzu’s famous proverb: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” The name Lao Tzu is translated in one iteration as the “Old Master” full of wisdom and knowledge. For his words to endure thousands of years across several cultures speaks to the universality of his ideals. And such is Freemasonry, full of allegories and moral stories that have proven endurance and utility over at least 300 years. Thus, our Masonic charges teach us that knowledge can only be attained in degrees, a reallife lesson in diligence and prudence. The Hauts Grades Academy (HGA) was designed to encourage the progress and development of Scottish Rite Masons in the Northern Jurisdiction. I have often come across Brothers in Freemasonry who attempt to rush the joys of fellowship, progress, and education. It is almost like a race that never has a finish line—as if we are always on a quest for that which was not lost, but rather what lies beyond our current task. We do not travel to Disney, the Pyramids, or the Caribbean to get a picture to post on social media or to get a visa on our passport. We travel to these locations to create memories. And what are memories but moments in life that never desert us. Close your eyes and remember something from your favorite trip. I bet you are smiling! As you embark on HGA or any Scottish Rite activity, please make sure that you are in the business of creating those moments that will make you smile in retrospect because you were filled with joy while doing them. Do not let perfect get in the way of your pursuit of happiness, and spread

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that energy to those around you. It is shameful when we hear about turmoil between friends and family, and while tensions arise, we must remember the joyful moments that will soften our hearts and bring us back to that temple built with brotherly love.

Do not let perfect get in the way of your pursuit of happiness.

enjoyable moments that will leave a print on you for life. Sapere Aude!

! To learn more about HGA and sign up for the waitlist, visit hauts-grades-academy

In that light, when you embark on HGA, the journey may be rough, but as Victor Hugo wrote “tis noble to suffer.” No matter how hard it gets, remember what William Shakespeare wrote in Henry VIII that “action is eloquence.” I urge you to take on the HGA journey. If you choose to, remember to enjoy and celebrate it. HGA is for every Scottish Rite Mason. It is a personal journey—as tedious as 1,000 steps. It will also be 1,000


As the Scottish Rite’s oldest jurisdiction-wide fundraising appeal, the Blue Envelope is a tangible way for our Fraternity to join together and fulfill our commitment to our Brothers and our communities. Donations t0 the Blue Envelope go directly to supporting our Scottish Rite Charities.

Your Blue Envelope contributions help your Valley earn Valley of Excellence credit while increasing its Abbott Scholarship allocation.


by Joann Williams-Hoxha, Content Manager

Sovereign Grand Commander

Peter J. Samiec

Let’s meet Brother Peter J. Samiec, the 22nd Sovereign Grand Commander of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, who was installed on August 31, 2021 at the Annual Session in Cleveland. Masonic Background

Brother Samiec was raised a Master Mason at St. Patrick’s Lodge No. 4 in Johnstown, New York in 1982, and served as Worshipful Master there in 1991. He affiliated with Gloversville Lodge No. 429 in 1985, serving as Master for two terms. He is also a member of Amsterdam Lodge No. 84 and Kosciuszko Lodge No. 1085. Ill. Brother Samiec was coroneted a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, Honorary Member of the Supreme Council in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 29, 1998, and was crowned an Active Member of Supreme Council in 2003. He has served as Grand Lieutenant Commander under both Commander John William McNaughton and Commander David A. Glattly. He has served as the Grand Almoner since 2015. In addition to Ill. Brother Samiec’s active service to the Scottish Rite, NMJ and Supreme Council, he is a member of York Rite as well as several Masonic Lodges of Research.

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Family Life

Commander Samiec was born and raised in the great state of New York. He was educated in the Batavia City School System and graduated with a Regents Diploma. He then went on to the State University College at Buffalo, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in education. He also holds a master’s degree in Educational Philosophy and Clinical Educational Supervision from the State University College at Oneonta, New York. Brother Samiec and his lovely wife, Gail P. Randall, have been married for 53 years, and they are the proud parents of one child, Dr. Carrie Hempel-Sanderoff, and have one grandson, Nathan.

that integrated the teaching of reading into the technology curriculum, providing reinforcement of reading skills in a nontraditional environment. In 1990, Ill. Brother Samiec was transferred to the high school level, teaching technical mathematics and automotive technology. He was appointed department chair in 1991, serving in that capacity until his retirement in June of 2001. He was selected as Teacher of the Year in 2001 by the Fulton-Montgomery Regional Technology Teachers Association and New York State Technology Educators Association.


After his retirement, Ill. Bro. Samiec devoted his time to the operation of his business, Subcontracting Services Co., which specialized in installing and servicing residential electrical, lighting, and communications systems. He enjoys 1960s-era automotive technology, collecting diecast auto replicas, landscape and wildlife photography, and Buffalo Bills football. For more information on Commander Pete, please see the following pages.

Brother Pete served as a technology education instructor at the Gloversville Enlarged School System in Gloversville, New York. He served as part of the middle school technology team for 22 years, where he developed a program


Meet the Grand

MUSIC Alan Jackson or George Strait on the country side, John Mellencamp or Bob Seger on the rock side (What? You thought maybe Mozart or Brahms??)

FOOD almost anything Italian, fresh fish (grilled or broiled) MOVIES Blues Brothers or Animal House— great stress relievers.

BOOK anything by Dan Brown


PLACE Kiawah Island, SC

collecting die-cast auto replicas


Buffalo Bills football

I don’t like mac-n-cheese, chicken cordon bleu, or Brussels sprouts.


landscape and wildlife photography



So far I’ve managed to avoid incarceration!


LEAST FAVORITE DEGREE any degree that’s done poorly

VISION a Fraternity that understands and practices the obligations we all took when we knelt at our Sacred Altar

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d Commander DAUGHTER Carrie with husband Brian



PET Lily


SUPREME COUNCIL Grand Almoner, Grand Lt. Commander, Deputy for New York


PRIVATELY technology ed. teacher/ owner of residential electrical contracting company


VETERAN SCOTTISH RITE MASONS Be a friend and mentor to a new member, and he’ll be an asset to your Valley.

November 2021

NEW SCOTTISH RITE MASONS Explore all that Scottish Rite has to offer, but never forget your Masonic roots.

OFFICERS You are the heart and soul of your Valley. Give your term of office all you have, and your Valley will thrive.


Honoring Meet Brother Steven Stefana our Front First Responder at Ground Z Line Heroes This fall, the Scottish Rite, NMJ, is honoring our first responders. Our Brothers who serve and save others truly exemplify our Core Value of Service to Humanity. From the September 11 attacks to the COVID-19 global pandemic, first responders have always been the front-line heroes of our communities. Each week, we’ll be sharing their stories and celebrating their service across our social media platforms.

THIS IS THE STORY OF BROTHER STEVEN STEFANAKOS, 33°, FROM THE VALLEY OF ROCKVILLE CENTRE. ILLUSTRIOUS BROTHER STEFANAKOS IS A DETECTIVE IN THE NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT AND WAS ONE OF THE FIRST RESPONDERS AT GROUND ZERO DURING THE DEVASTATING ATTACKS OF 9/11. HIS LIFE WAS SAVED BY A SPLIT-SECOND DECISION. Many remember where they were the morning of September 11, 2001. For Stefanakos, he was at Ground Zero, bearing witness to the single deadliest terror attack in American history. “It started off slow and you heard each floor as it pancaked down, slowly into each other, into each other,” said Stefanakos. “A minute saved my life.” Soon, there was nothing but rubble left of the towers. “I knew where our guys were going and that was the first thing that I thought of—oh my God, we have people in those buildings,” Stefanakos said. Prior to the second tower’s collapse, Stefanakos, together with his partner and two fellow officers, were tasked to go to Ground Zero on two separate

missions. Stefanakos and his partner were to head into the second tower. Fellow officers Langone and Talty were to assist with roof rescues.

“IT STARTED OFF SLOW AND YOU HEARD EACH FLOOR AS IT PANCAKED DOWN, SLOWLY INTO EACH OTHER, INTO EACH OTHER.” At the last second, the officer duos switched roles. “‘We’ll take that stuff, we’ll see you later, be safe.’ Those were the last words Tommy Langone said to me,” Stefanakos said. Langone and Talty were killed. Stefanakos says they were two of the most innovative, compassionate officers he has ever known. 26

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akos, 33°: Zero


This story is based on an interview with Stefanakos and ABC 7 News NY.

“I have a responsibility to them, to their families, and to their memory,” Stefanakos said. “When we say we’ll never forget, we will never forget.”

“THE FEATS OF BRAVERY AND RESILIENCE OF THE FAMILIES, THAT'S WHAT FILLS MY HEART.” Today, he carries on their legacy by continuing his courageous work with the NYPD, mentoring and training younger officers, and helping those who struggle, as he does, with 9/11 related illnesses.

Brother Stefanakos walks around the location where the Twin Towers once stood.

Despite the trauma of 9/11, Brother Stefanakos has managed to find a silver lining. “The feats of bravery and resilience of the families, that’s what fills my heart,” Stefanakos said.


Brother Stefanakos stands beside the 9/11 memorial where his comrades’ names are etched.

First Responders Speakers Bureau We have many first responders among our Scottish Rite Brethren. Learn more about these men of courage and service in our series of profiles that we are featuring on social media this fall. Many of them are willing to share their stories in your lodge or Valley. Visit the Leadership Resource Center on the website where you can download the Speakers Bureau Directory which lists the available speakers in your state. The destroyed World Trade Center following September 11, 2001.

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Becoming a Policeman a Lifelong Dream for Brother Joshua Nytch FROM THE TIME HE WAS A TODDLER, JOSHUA NYTCH KNEW WHAT HE WANTED TO BE WHEN HE GREW UP: A POLICE OFFICER. BROTHER NYTCH SAYS HE OWES THIS CAREER CHOICE TO HIS GRANDFATHER WHO WAS A POLICEMAN. in Binghamton, New York, and has worked within the division of the New York State Office of Mental Health Police since 2009. “We literally help talk people off the ledge,” Brother Nytch explained.

Josh as a youngster dressing up as a police officer.


Born and raised in Binghamton, Brother Nytch said it means a lot to him to serve in the capacity of law enforcement within his hometown. And while he has seen the political climate surrounding law enforcement shift on a national level, Brother Josh said things haven’t changed much in Binghamton. “We’re always doing different events in the community, and the support is unparalleled,” he said. One thing Brother Nytch wishes people would better understand about the life of a first responder is the stress it can put on spouses. Josh said his wife, Christina, learned this firsthand, as his hours are unpredictable, the work can, of course, be dangerous, and the extra weight of being home on her own with a new baby was hard.

“Ever since I was two or younger, I’d dress up as a cop every day. I knew from early on that is what I wanted to do,” Brother Nytch said, adding that most photos of him as a young child are taken with him in a dress-up police uniform. For a short time while attending college, Brother Nytch thought he wanted to be a politician, and even ran for office when he was just 18 years old, until he realized that it was not a good fit for him after all. Now 42 years of age, he is a policeman


Brother Nytch poses with fellow bagpipers in New Hampshire.

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by Joann Williams-Hoxha, Content Manager

Josh and Christina are proud parents to Frank, now two years of age, who is named after Josh’s late grandfather. They are also expecting a baby girl, Adeline, in the fall.

“I WANT TO KNOW HOW IT’S DONE. I’M ONE OF THOSE GUYS THAT DOESN’T LIKE TO NOT KNOW THINGS.” Brother Nytch credits his journey to Freemasonry to his innate curiosity and wanting to unlock some of the shared secrets of the Brotherhood. This also explains his love for learning magic tricks; he is determined to unlock the mystery behind the illusion. When asked which Freemason , past or present, he would like to have a conversation with, he said Harry Houdini without hesitation. “I want to know how it’s done. I’m one of those guys that doesn’t like to not know things,” he said. One of his colleagues within the police department is a Freemason, so he asked him about joining. In December of 2020, Brother Josh joined the Scottish Rite, NMJ, and is currently a member of the Valley of Binghamton. Having only witnessed the 4th degree thus far, his journey as a new member of Scottish Rite is still evolving, and he is excited to continue his path to further light.

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Brother Joshua Nycht and his son, Frank

Brother Nytch enjoys golfing and is also part of a bagpiping group, which he says is a hobby that has turned into a full-time job. Whether it’s a wedding, grocery store grand opening, or a funeral, bagpiping keeps him very busy. Most recently, he traveled to a bagpiping gig in New Hampshire, where he and members of his

bagpiping band enjoyed time in the White Mountains. “Buried or married; I’ll be there,” he said. The Supreme Council, NMJ, is grateful for the work that Brother Nytch and thousands of others within our ranks do every day to keep us safe.



by Jared Replogle, Intern

A Life of Service: Fire Chief and Brother Robert Pursley BROTHER ROBERT L. PURSLEY JR., PH.D. AND 32° SCOTTISH RITE MASON FROM THE VALLEY OF AKRON WAS SWORN IN AS THE BARBERTON FIRE CHIEF IN APRIL 2020. He began his more than 32-year career in a small combination fire department as a part-time firefighter/ paramedic and was hired full time by the Barberton Fire Department in 1992. He rose consistently through the ranks, with a promotion to Lieutenant in 1998 and Captain/Shift Commander in 2013.

HIS SELFLESS COMMITMENT TO SERVICE HAS EARNED HIM A NUMBER OF DISTINCTIONS OVER THE YEARS. Chief Pursley has also served the department as chairperson of the Safety Committee, a worker’s compensation representative, grant writer, and vice president of Barberton Firefighters Association. He was also a member of the Summit County Technical Rescue Operations Team for more than 22 years; and from 20022015, a member of Ohio Task Force 1. While serving on one of the federal Urban Search and Rescue Teams in the United States, he held several positions including: Rescue Specialist, Rescue Squad Officer, and Technical Information Specialist.


In addition, Chief Pursley spends time as the Lead Fire Instructor for the University of Akron and the Barberton Fire Department and continues to give back to his community by providing lectures on fire safety and community relations. His selfless commitment to service has earned him a number of distinctions over the years including: • City of Barberton Employee of the Year, 2015 • Barberton Fire Department Letter of Commendation, 2015 • Kiwanis Outstanding Service Award, September 2004 • Rotary Club of Barberton Service Above Self Award, May 2001 • Akron Children’s Hospital Squad of the Year Award, May 2001 • State of Ohio Letter of Commen dation, August 2001 • Barberton Fire Department Letter of Commendation, May 2001 • City of Barberton Formal Recog nition of Service Award, 1999

We humbly thank Brother Pursley for his heroic efforts and continued service.

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Arizona Reunions Sun City West February 3, 2022

Florida Reunions The Villages

Mesa February 4, 2022

March 8, 2022

Tampa March 10, 2022

Bradenton March 12, 2022

Bonita Springs March 14, 2022

We’re headed to Arizona and Florida to visit our members in 2022. Sign up to attend one of our membership luncheons to get updates from your Scottish Rite and meet Commander Samiec and members of our staff.

Register to attend at

Sovereign Grand Commander Peter J. Samiec, 33°


“This article isn’t what

Franklin, Lincoln, Pickett, and Me 2 6 T H


Illustrious Richard Gillardy, 33°, works his magic.


Almost every Mason knows the that is dramatically told in the that I can add to the history and The virtues of our gentle Craft could not prevent war, but in time of dire need—in the face of death—the strained sinews of “the tie that binds” strengthened instead of snapped, and Brothers cared for Brothers without hesitation or disdain. In our politically torn country, no message could be more powerful to us: We must remain a Brotherhood undivided by party affiliation, worship customs, scientific knowledge, righteousness, ethnic background, or differing abilities. End of sermon. Instead, this article morphed into my own Scottish Rite story. I hope you find it worth reading, because it might be your story, too—now or in the future. I have been an actor in the 26th degree since May of 1994, when I was cast by Brother Delvin L. Zeiders, 33°, Director of Work for the Valley of Harrisburg, to play Abraham Lincoln. I didn’t see myself as being anything like honest Abe, but if the director believed I could do it, I agreed to give it a try. But then, I didn’t see myself as Ben Franklin either. Two years earlier, I had been cast to play Young Ben in the first scene (long since removed from the text) of the 25th degree. In it, Ben faced a very stern and accusing Lodge Committee of Investigation. So, I wasn’t new to playing a historical character. Luckily, there was little factual information about Young Ben other than his own writings. In those, he didn’t describe his physical nature, mannerisms, or vocal qualities, and

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by Thomas R. Labagh, 33˚, Active for Pennsylvania Member, Committee on Ritualistic Matters

it started out to be—a review of the 26th degree.

story behind the Friend to Friend Masonic Memorial at Gettysburg 26th degree, Friend and Brother Eternal. There isn’t much more the legend of Masonic Brotherhood transcending political violence. focused more on his ideas and beliefs, so I was free to make up the character based on my interpretation of the text. Abraham Lincoln, however, brought a much greater responsibility. First, there were pictures, and I didn’t think I looked anything like him. Then, there were detailed descriptions of his voice when calm, when angry, when grieved, when nervous. He would even vary his pronunciation of certain words when he wanted to emphasize his backwoods upbringing: feller, heered and reckon. People wrote about his handshake, his furrowing eyebrows, his toothy smile, and the way he slapped his leg to emphasize a story he told. How much of this did I need to absorb to make the audience believe I was Abe Lincoln and not Tom Labagh reciting the Gettysburg Address in high school? I read parts of several biographies to try to capture the essence of the man, and I feel as if I did an okay job, for the most part. Much credit for my acceptance as Lincoln goes to the make-up genius of our deceased Illustrious Brother Richard M. Gillardy who was tragically killed in an accident on the way home from receiving the 33rd degree in Washington, DC, in 2013. Occasionally, I was asked to appear as Lincoln at a school, a lodge, or a Scottish Rite Club as an entertainment program. Daniel DayLewis wasn’t worried about competition from me when he auditioned for

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Steven Spielberg’s masterful film. Improvisation was not my strong suit, but I got better at it over the years. I learned to do my own makeup and have tried to entertain, teach, and give people a feeling that perhaps they were seeing and hearing at least a part of this great man, President Abraham Lincoln. When that degree script was retired in 2006, I was less into acting and more into the direction and production of degrees, so you can imagine my own surprise when I first saw the authentic costume for General George E. Pickett, Army of the Confederacy, and tried it on. At that moment, in my mind I knew I WAS George Pickett. I put on the boots with the spurs, the sash, the belt, the tie, and the kepi hat. I just knew I was born to play this character. I even bought an antique riding crop similar to the one Pickett carried with him when leading the troops. Again, I hit the books trying to learn even more about Pickett and the tragic charge attributed to him on the third and final day of the Battle of Gettysburg. I was consumed with getting his voice, brash attitude, bravado, and passion just right. I wanted to know what was really going on in his head the night before the battle, so I could convey THAT feeling when using the author’s words. I learned about his military schooling at West Point, his commissioned and breveted ranks, his combat experiences, his family life, the loss of two wives, a bi-racial child given up to

Class honoree, MW Robert Monacelli, 33°, and the author as General Pickett

others for care, his true feelings about what happened during “the charge,” and his reaction to the aftermath. All of this research helped to inform my portrayal of General Pickett on stage, and later, in a banquet and lodge “edutainment” program. I do not go out in public in a uniform of the Confederacy, knowing that, to some, it is an offensive reminder of a shameful part of our American history. But I do not feel ashamed portraying this interesting and complex human being who claimed he detested the institution of slavery. I have also enjoyed a friendly rivalry/camaraderie with a neighboring General Pickett in New Jersey, and recently took my characterization on the road to pay tribute to MW Robert Monacelli, Grand Master of Masons in New Jersey, for a class named in his honor. Because I took this approach to learn more about the historical characters I was asked to play, I have also felt the need to create a small “backstory” for each fictional character I portray. In each case, the additional research into the time, the culture, and the prevailing civilization has enhanced my understanding of the degrees (and the Core Values we present) and has enriched my personal Scottish Rite journey far beyond my expectations.



You Were There Things were looking dark for Michigan Scottish Rite Brother Frank Irons, 32°. The 20-year Army veteran’s roof badly needed to be replaced, and winter was coming. Brother Irons had faced a series of challenges that made the project feel impossible to complete. After retiring from the military, he went on to work in a mine, where he suffered an accident that severely injured both of his knees. The accident left him unemployed, and he was trying to put two of his children through college at the time. He also helped care for his disabled brother who lived with his family. Then, his roof began to leak. “I was doing my best trying to come up with extra money, and something would always happen,” he recalled. “I was driving a vehicle that didn’t have heat in the UP [the Upper Peninsula of Michigan]. I would have one of those portable heaters to get it warmed up at least so I could drive it.”

Frank stationed at Camp Casey, South Korea. He served in the Army for 22 years.


Brother Irons had been diagnosed with PTSD from his service in the Army, and a therapist he saw regularly for his condition referred him to a veteran’s assistance program. Unfortunately, after applying, he was told he wouldn’t be able to receive help until the following year, only to learn months later that he didn’t qualify.

“I was doing my best trying to come up with extra money, and something would always happen.” He tried looking into other organizations but was turned down again and again. “It was always a ‘no,’” he said.

Frank’s basic training photo taken at Fort Knox in Kentucky in 1973.

by Bridget Steele Assistant Director of Charities

By now, the situation had turned dire. The multiple layers of tarp and plastic he had placed on the roof were no longer keeping out the rain, and the interior of his home began to show damage from the leaks. “It was so bad that every time we got rain, I just cringed. I had buckets and tubs all over trying to collect the water,” he said. Out of options, he decided to post about the situation on Facebook. “I normally would not ask for help, but I am tired of finding that everywhere I turn, there is more disappointment,” his post began. After describing the situation, he ended with, “Does anyone have any ideas? I would greatly appreciate them. Winter is fast approaching, and the high winds here take a toll on the tarps I keep replacing.” When his Brothers saw the post, they responded quickly. He got a phone call from the Scottish Rite informing him that the Almoner’s Fund would be offering him some help. Brother Irons said that even after the call, he

Brother Frank Irons (left) with Michigan Brothers Morris Langworthy Jr. (center) and Craig Maison, 33° (right).

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still didn’t get his hopes up. “I didn’t count on it, because I’d been turned down so many times.” The Scottish Rite partnered with the Grand Lodge of Michigan’s Living Better at Home program to get the project moving. Together, they completely covered the costs of the roof and decking replacement.

He got a phone call from the Scottish Rite informing him that the Almoner’s Fund would be offering him some help.

Frank tried placing layers of tarps and plastic on his roof to keep out the rain.

Brother Irons said it’s hard to describe the relief he feels when he looks up and sees his new roof. “It was like a dream seeing it done. They did a fantastic job. Everything just started changing from then on for the good.” Being a Mason and seeing the way his Brothers came together to help him reminds Brother Irons of being in the military. “The brotherhood you had in the military, you have that in Freemasonry. You always have a Brother. There’s always someone to help you.” “I’m so appreciative of the Almoner’s Fund. I would have lost my house. My house probably would have been condemned if it wasn’t for all of you,” he said.

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Frank holds his grandson while riding in his Shriner’s car.

Workers replace Frank’s badly damaged roof.

Frank said seeing his new roof done was “like a dream.”



A National Treasure Brother Wayne C. Temple, 33°, MSA was awarded the Scottish Rite Medal of Honor prior to the Illinois Council of Deliberation in June 2021 by Deputy Greg Clark, Active Emeritus Benny Grisham, and Valley of Springfield Illinois Executive Secretary Craig Kennedy.

Brother Temple and his wife Sandy were very surprised and emotional at this unexpected honor from the Supreme Council. Brother Wayne is 97 years old and just retired three years ago from his State of Illinois Position as Chief Deputy Director for the State Archives. Brother Wayne continues with his life’s passion of writing about Springfield’s favorite son, Abraham Lincoln. The presentation was held at Brother Temple’s home while his wife Sandy sat next to him and watched. Everyone enjoyed visiting while Wayne talked about his life history, his Masonic journey, his love of research and writing, his friendships, travels, and time serving in World War II. Brother Temple has a long and rich Masonic history. He is a member of St. Paul’s Lodge No. 500, the Valley of Springfield Scottish Rite, Springfield York Rite, and Ansar Shrine. He served as Thrice Potent Master from 1979 to 1981, was awarded the MSA in 1977, and was honored with the 33° in 1978. He is also a member of the Red Cross of Constantine in York Rite and holds the Honorary DeMolay Legion of Honor.

Brother Wayne C. Temple, 33˚, MSA


Dr. Temple, or “Doc” as he’s known around the globe, is the world’s leading researcher and writer on our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. Brother Temple has authored more than 20 books over the last sixty years about the President, his family, and friends. He has written hundreds of articles and was editor of The Lincoln

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by Craig A. Kennedy, 33°, MSA

Herald quarterly magazine for more than 20 years.

During his service, he earned the Bronze Star for his actions near the Rhine River. He was instrumental in the 50th anniversary celebration of Stephen A. Douglas Chapter Order of DeMolay in Springfield. He spoke of his good friend Lloyd Ostendorf of Dayton, Ohio, who painted a portrait of Stephen A. Douglas when he was the Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Illinois in 1840. The portrait hangs

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today in the Springfield Masonic Center. Wayne was born in Ohio and attended Ohio State University on a football scholarship. Thereafter, he was called into service during World War II. While in army training, he attended engineering school at the University of Illinois. This would change his life. He was stationed in Europe and worked setting up communications for General Dwight D. Eisenhower. The General (and later 34th President of the United States) at his request gave Dr. Temple an autographed photo that he still has today. During his service, he earned the Bronze Star for his actions near the Rhine River.

After his service, he returned to college at the University of Illinois studying history. He worked under Professor J. G. Randall, the leading writer on Abraham Lincoln at that time. Brother Temple assisted Randall with research and writing of his final four books. Wayne graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois and got his first job as a history professor at Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. In 1964, he began his career at the State of Illinois Archives where he worked for more than 50 years. Brother Temple poses with his Medal of Honor. (l to r): Brother Craig Kennedy, Executive Secretary, Valley of Springfield; Brother Wayne Temple, 33°; Brother Greg Clark, 33°, Deputy for Illinois; Brother Benny Grisham, 33°, Active Emeritus


CONGRATULATIONS Congratulations Mary Ann!

Mary Ann Bichajian • 15 Years of Service

Thank you for your many years of service to Scottish Rite and our Charities. Congratulations on your retirement! PRODUCTS MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM WHAT IS DISPLAYED.


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Around the Session










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! If you would like to have your Valley featured in Around the Jurisdiction, be sure to submit photographs and descriptions to

November 2021



Masons Go Over the Edge

by Lisa JM Proulx, New Hampshire Consistory

On Tuesday, August 18, 2021, the Valley of Nashua sponsored a team to go Over the Edge, raising over $10,000 from 130 donors for the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Nashua. Over the Edge is an annual fundraising event sponsored by the United Way of Greater Nashua. The team had six “Edgers” including Valley presiding officers Adam J. Freiband, 32°, TPM.; Paul G. Bielawski, 32°, SP; David W. Smith, 32°, MSA, MWM; as well as Amanda White from New Hampshire Eastern

Star, Teressa Corson, and Chelsea Graves. The six “Edgers” rappelled 300 feet from the top of the 24-story Brady Sullivan Building in Manchester, NH. Roland N. Petersen, 32°, MSA,

led the efforts for the fundraiser by putting together the team, working with the event host, and coordinating with Children’s Dyslexia Centers, Inc. to make it a success. The team had a great cheering squad on hand that day

with their feet firmly on the ground. The event brought together a total of 74 rappelers representing 15 area nonprofits affiliated with the United Way of Nashua. The overall goal for this year’s event was $125,000, and with the assistance of over 1,500 donors, the final amount raised was over $140,000!

All photopraphs were captured by Robert M. Porter, 33°, and Troy A. Patoine, 33°.


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Valleys ofExcellence

by Joann Williams-Hoxha, Content Manager

Valley of South Bend Went Back to Basics to Achieve VOE

For the Valley of South Bend, Executive Director Robert F. Keuper, 33°, said achieving Valley of Excellence (VOE) status was as simple as putting more effort into what the Valley was already doing. Whether it was summertime picnics, first responder training, degree rehearsals, or reunions, Brother Keuper said refining their programs and events to achieve an optimal member experience

was what helped them achieve a 90.29 Valley of Excellence rating. Aside from the pandemic putting a strain on in-person meetings, Ill. Brother Keuper said keeping the officers and committees focused and engaged on the Valley of Excellence goals was perhaps the biggest challenge. The most difficult VOE category to tackle was the membership piece—particularly, the Brother-

to-Brother calling program, as their database had outdated or incorrect contact information. Updating phone numbers, emails, and mailing addresses remains a work in progress. “Put quite simply, if you plan quality and enjoyable events that members and their families will want to participate in, you are well on your way to becoming a Valley of Excellence,” Brother Keuper added.

Valley of Worcester’s Recipe for Success Brother Robbie Burnett, 33°, MSA, Secretary for the Valley of Worcester, said one of the biggest hurdles to becoming a Valley of Excellence was making sure that his Valley’s report was filled out properly. “As a secretary, business manager, and project manager, I had lots of questions for Bob Kefalas [Assistant Director of Valley Relations] about filling out the report, and he was so helpful,” Brother Burnett said. “It was a daunting task, but taking it in little chunks, it was very manageable to get done.” With the report complete, the next challenge was finding creative ways to work around gathering capacities that had been reduced from 100 people to 25 due to Covid-related restrictions. Ill. Brother Burnett said the offering of online degrees by Supreme Council was suddenly a welcome change to keep members engaged. Last fiscal year, the Valley of

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Worcester welcomed 18 new Scottish Rite members who were able to witness the 4th degree through Scottish Rite, NMJ’s virtual degrees. “Now we question how many times we may have lost a candidate because the online opportunity wasn’t available to them,” Burnett said. By the time three heads of bodies within the Valley of Worcester met in February 2021, they learned they already had 63 Valley of Excellence points. Brother Robbie, 33°, said he was stunned by how much had already been accomplished. “To be honest there was a lot of doubt when competing with other Valleys that had larger sizes, budgets, and resources,” Brother Burnett said. The most difficult category to tackle was fundraising, as they had never formerly budgeted for Valley donations in the past. With just 24 hours left to raise the recommended amount of

donations for their Valley, his Valley was almost ready to throw in the towel for that category. “Here again, Bob [Kefalas] took us out of our comfort zone and said, ‘Don’t just give up; figure it out,'” Burnett said. And that’s just what they did. They put together a call list of men who had notoriously given large donations in the past and asked if they would be willing to donate again. Once again, these Brothers came through. In just 8 hours, the Valley raised $1,720 in charitable contributions and an additional $7,274 for the Blue Envelope campaign. Ill. Brother Burnett said his

Valley ultimately decided that some programs would simply be inappropriate as a Zoom event, such as MSA presentations, veteran awards, and a special event for widows. The line items where the Valley was left with zero points were simply out of their control, and they’re OK with that. Their Valley knows that the Valley of Excellence is achievable, and that’s half the battle! “We had a recipe for success in 2020 that has no reason to not be successful in 2021. We’ll be mindful that we don’t rest on our laurels; it still requires work,” Valley Secretary Burnett said.




Youth Advisor of the Year Recipient Recognized at Annual Session

by Joann Williams-Hoxha, Content Manager

To be eligible for this award, one must be a recognized Advisor of DeMolay International, Job’s Daughters International, The International Order of Rainbow for Girls, or The Organization of Triangles, Inc. (New York only), and be from one of the 15 states of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. One Advisor may be nominated by the adult head of their organization within their state.

To honor the contributions of those who commit themselves to supporting the development of our Masonic youth, the Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, created a Youth Advisor of the Year award. This year’s Youth Advisor of the Year award was presented to Crissy Willeke at Scottish Rite, NMJ’s Annual Session in Cleveland, Ohio. Ms. Willeke serves as an Executive Committee Member of Ohio Grand Assembly and is Grand Deputy of District 6 for Ohio Rainbow. She also serves as Chapter Advisor for DeMolay International in the Mount Vernon/ Johnstown area in Ohio.


Crissy’s capacity to serve is endless and only fueled by her insatiable love for her Masonic family Crissy was nominated by Whitney Poma, Supreme Deputy of Ohio for the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. Poma said Crissy’s commitment to Rainbow has been unwavering for more than 30 years, beginning when Crissy was an active Rainbow girl herself. “She served as Grand Worthy Advisor in 1990—

an incredible feat that speaks to her service to Rainbow back when we had thousands of members. I met Crissy during my time as an active Rainbow girl— around the age of 14, after which I was quick to categorize her as a role model. I know that my personal adoration and respect for Crissy as an active Rainbow girl is similar to hundreds of other girls who have met her in their Rainbow journeys, too,” Poma said. In addition to her commitment to Rainbow, Crissy devotes much of her time to DeMolay International. She is married to a Senior DeMolay and is a mom to three accomplished young men—one senior DeMolay and 2 active DeMolay members, with her son Logan currently serving as State Master Councilor. “Crissy’s capacity to serve is endless and only fueled by her insatiable love for her Masonic family and desire to give back to an organization that has given so much to her. Her passion inspires others to do the same—both peers and girls,” Poma said.

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November 30, 2021

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