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History of the Valley of Alexandria
(1987 – 2011)
1987 was a notable year for the nation to commemorate a significant historical event – signing of the Constitution of the United States of America 200 years earlier. The Supreme Council developed a number of program ideas for use by the Valleys during this bicentennial year.
In collaboration with a Special Assistant at the Supreme Council, the Alexandria Valley provided some 20 members to participate in a parade float titled “Bicentennial of the Constitution.” It depicted members of the Constitutional Convention with George Washington (stand- in Brother Downs, 33°) as the leader of the group. Participants wore the colonial uniforms previously used in the drama “The Traitor.” The float appeared in the 1987 Cherry Blossom Festival parade in Washington, D.C.
The float was again used a year later at the well known Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Virginia. Charles D. Gray, KCCH had the honor of representing George Washington.
John P. McIntyre, KCCH developed a number of skits based on historical facts that were used during the bicentennial year and later. The “We Were There” skit included conversations between George Washington and Benjamin Franklin about the difficulties of constructing the Constitution that did finally result in agreement by the assemblage. This was presented in the Valley, at some lodges, at the Scottish Rite Spring Workshop, and at a middle school in Winchester. Brother Gray and Brother Downs alternated the part of George Washington, but only Harry A. Fadley, KCCH characterized Ben Franklin.
Another revolutionary period production by Brother McIntyre was titled “Unsung Heroes.” It concerned the crossing of the frigid Delaware River and surprise attack on the British at Trenton on Christmas day, 1776. In the skit, George Washington (Brother Downs) and Colonel John Glover (James S. Petty, 33°) described the plans of the attack and the arduous job of traveling the icy river with men, heavy equipment, and supplies. This was also presented at several Masonic events including a DeMolay conclave.
At the July 10, 1987 meeting, SGIG Kruger announced that Sovereign Grand Commander Kleinknecht was so impressed with Alexandria‟s conferral of the 33rd degree in 1985, that he wanted the same team to confer the degree at the 1987 Supreme Council Session in October. Degree recipients would be from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, District of Columbia, and as many other Orients as would like their selectees to receive the degree in Washington. Illustrious Brother Downs was designated Director of the Degree Team, and performed the lead role of Sovereign Grand Commander. An additional 17 members were in the cast. Because attendees, designates, and Scottish Rite leaders found the performance of the conferral to be outstanding, the Alexandria Valley was asked to do the 33rd degree at every subsequent biennial session except at the Bicentennial Session held in Charleston, South Carolina in 2001. The team was also scheduled to confer the degree on August 23, 2011.
One of the changes made to the Supreme Council Statutes at the 1987 session concerned Life Membership in the Valleys. The new ruling required a minimum fee of $500 for the purchase of Life Membership. This overrode Alexandria‟s existing plan which prescribed different fees for different age groups, nearly all of which were under $500. The plan was discontinued, and the status of its living members was recognized as Life Members, exempt from payment of dues.
A political action in the United States Senate in 1988 indirectly became very significant for Masonry in general. Judge David B. Sentelle, 32°, of North Carolina, had been nominated to serve on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. During his confirmation hearings he was questioned about his Masonic membership, and suggested by some that he disassociate himself from the Fraternity. He, however, stood fast and related to do so would be the same as dishonoring his father, his uncles, and grandfather who believed the Fraternity to be honorable, just, and charitable. With support from other Senators, he was confirmed for the position. Judge Sentelle shared the story of his confirmation hearing at the Valley‟s June 10 meeting. (He was appointed Chief Judge on February 11, 2008.)
The Fall Reunion was a one-day Class in memory of Benjamin D. Edwards, 33°, the 40-year Treasurer of the Valley. He was very beloved as attested to by the 94 candidates in that Class. Along with 42 in the Spring Class, the Valley was able to finish the year with a small net gain.
Between 1988 and 1992, the Alexandria Scottish Rite was the beneficiary of three sizable bequests administered by the Trustees. The first, from Frederick A. Tutt, KCCH amounted to a little over $27,000; the second, from Charles L. Eisenman, 33°, was for $117,000; the third, from the late Marguerite C. Hargey (widow of Stanley G, 32°) exceeded $116,000. All three of these were used for major improvement projects of the building that were needed as time went on.
[The Valley was fortunate to receive two other sizable bequests – in ten year intervals! In 2000, the Loraine P. Ayres estate (Harry A. Ayres, 33°) distributed $135,000 to the Scottish Rite. In 2010, a $100,000 bequest was made by the estate of Gordon C. Thomson, 33°.]
Brother Fred Tutt died on September 5, 1986. As this estate was being settled, Brother Downs designed an area of the building which would be a permanent memorial to Brother Tutt‟s contribution. This hallway on the upper East side of the Temple was designated “Honor Hall,” and dedicated to all members who received the KCCH and 33° honors from 1911 and on into future years.
Constructed in 1988, it included a remodeling of the hallway, pictures of living 33° members, plaques of living KCCH members, and a display that shows for each biennial year the names of those selected for honors. Brother Tutt is appropriately recognized in the hallway for his contribution that made the “Honor Hall” possible.
At the first meeting in 1989, SGIG David Kruger announced that he wanted every Scottish Rite member in the state to be a supporter of the Childhood Language Disorders Program which was an ever-expanding Scottish Rite philanthropy. Accordingly, a $5 per member would be added to the yearly dues to accomplish this purpose. He also encouraged additional individual contributions be made with dues payments. At the end of each year, these funds would be transferred to the Scottish Rite Foundation of Virginia through which the statewide operation was being conducted.
This effort by all Valleys in Virginia greatly extended the Scottish Rite outreach of helping children, and their parents, in improving language communication problems. In just a few years time the Foundation was providing funds for three Summer Clinics at: James Madison University at Harrisonburg, Old Dominion University at Norfolk, and Radford University at Radford. The number of children in each Summer Clinic is usually 25. In addition, the Foundation has been granting three full-time Fellowships at each university to Graduate students majoring in this Communications specialty. By 2011, the Scottish Rite was providing:
Nine Fellowships, $6,000 each, for a total of $54,000
One Doctorate Chair at JMU at $12,500
Three Summer Clinics at $15,000 each, for a total cost of $45,000
Support to the year-round Clinic operation at Richmond at $32,500,
For a total annual outlay of $144,000
Alexandria members and families have attended the Summer Clinic at JMU each year since its inception in 1985. They have seen first-hand how clinicians work with and improve children‟s communication abilities. They have also received the appreciation of children‟s parents, but also university officials for the great assistance the Scottish Rite provides.
On July 19, 1989 Illustrious W. Gene Sizemore, 33° was appointed by the Sovereign Grand Commander to replace the late Carroll M. Bowman, 33° as Assistant Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council, a title later renamed “Grand Executive Director.”
Former SGIG in Virginia Charles E. “Ted” Webber died on April 13, 1990 in his hometown of Salem, Virginia. By November, SGIG Kruger made the first announcement that the Spring 1991 reunion would be a one-day statewide reunion, to be held in Richmond in memory of this revered Brother. Brother Kruger challenged Alexandria to achieve 100 candidates for this special reunion.
On May 11, 1990, Robert C. Swiger, 33° was appointed Director of Work to succeed Illustrious Brother Matthews who had resigned.
The first comments about actions underway to establish a Blue Ridge Scottish Rite Club were made at the June 8 meeting. By the October 12 meeting, Steven M. Hicks, 32° reported on great progress, and expressed happy anticipation of receiving the club‟s charter on November 14 at Culpeper. Brother Hicks was elected the first President of the club. The club experienced “growing pains,” but survived those downturns, and in November of 2010 celebrated its 20th anniversary. A goodly number of Alexandria area brethren were present to show continuing support for the Club as well as to express appreciation for the club‟s many contributions to the Alexandria Valley.
Bruce B. Morris, 33°, at the meeting on February 8, 1991, revealed plans to raise $50,000 statewide to enable a portrait of Illustrious Brother Webber to be placed in the Supreme Council‟s “Hall of Honor.” By the end of the year, the funds raised were just short of the mark, but Brother Webber‟s portrait was accepted, and is displayed in the “Hall” at the Supreme Council.
Another tribute to Illustrious Brother Webber was the statewide reunion in Richmond on May 4, 1991. A total of 771 Master Masons became Scottish Rite members on that date! Alexandria‟s candidates numbered 131 – 31 above SGIG Kruger‟s challenge last November! It was not surprising that the Fall Reunion which followed consisted of only 17 candidates.
As noted earlier, several meetings during the late 1980s and early 90s required extra chairs to be brought in to accommodate all in attendance. On June 14 and again on September 13 (Friday the 13th), 1991, 104 were present at each meeting.
November 8 was the Valley‟s first meeting following the Supreme Council Biennial Session that was held in October. It was also the first opportunity to announce that Illustrious Walter S. Downs had been accorded the further honor at the Session as Grand Cross. At that time, there were only 38 Grand Crosses throughout the Southern Jurisdiction.
At the December 13 meeting, the Trustees proposed to use funds from the Stanley and Marguerite Hargey bequest for two needed projects. One was to construct a gravity feed sewer line from the Temple to King Street. This would replace the sometimes ineffective and smelly sewage ejection system located in the boiler room on the lower level of the building that had prevailed for 20 years. It wasn‟t just the availability of money that would make this possible, but the proven value of the $10,000 purchase of the back lot 19 years earlier.
The second project was the expansion and refurbishing of the ladies room downstairs. Other minor reconstruction of the adjoining hallway area was necessary to accomplish the project. The Trustees proposal was adopted.
The year 1991 showed a net gain of eight members, due in large part to the 131 candidates in the Webber Class.
In February of 1992, another of John McIntyre‟s interesting and historical skits was presented: “Cradle of the American Revolution.”
In March of 1992, the Supreme Council revised its guidelines for Valleys to invest their funds. Previously the approach was very conservative, but also the money invested was very secure – mostly Certificates of Deposit.
This change was welcomed by the Trustees. The Building Fund had grown since 1984 as a result of contributions made with dues payments and the $100 per nameplate, all of which they believed could be invested for higher earnings.
Two months later, a contract was made with a reputable national brokerage firm to assist in our future investments. The Trustees‟ dealings with the firm were with an official who was also an Alexandria Scottish Rite member. Conversion of Alexandria‟s investment assets into the brokerage firm began in June of 1992. Total assets at that time were $784,746. After the first year, the Trustees were very satisfied that the new investments were providing a higher rate of return. At the end of 1993, the total value of assets had reached $885,501, with $349,000 of this not yet converted, pending maturity dates of the CDs.
As time went on, the Trustees diversified the holdings and even placed investments in two other firms so as not to “place all our eggs in one basket.”
As a further indication of strong attendance during this particular period, 75 to 80 were present at the December 11 meeting despite very unfavorable weather conditions. Notwithstanding all the good attendance, the year 1992 had a net loss of 80. A year later, the net loss was 109.
A fire in the men‟s room in May 1994 was caused by a cigarette not being properly put out. As a result, the Trustees banned all smoking in the building except in the stairways of the two side entrances to the building.
All Valleys in the Southern Jurisdiction were notified in November of 1994 that the Sovereign Grand Commander was exploring an alternative to the Maundy Thursday program – a responsibility of the Chapter Rose Croix. His concern was that at that time there was often a conflict within families of whether to attend their church or the Scottish Rite, or whether to split and have the husband/father go to the Scottish Rite and the others attend church – not always an agreeable decision.
The year 1994 ended with a net loss of 140.
The “extra chairs” situation occurred again at the March 10, 1995 meeting when Congressman James P. Moran spoke, and afterwards answered a number of questions from the brethren. Mr. Moran‟s appearance had been arranged by Brother Howard S. Maney, 33°, then Chairman of the Education Committee.
An unprecedented one-day Spring Reunion took place on May 6, 1995 when a joint Scottish Rite Reunion/Kena Shrine Ceremonial was held at the Scottish Rite Temple. This event had been planned and agreed upon in the fall of 1994 by Illustrious Brother Downs and Donald G. Moore, the presumed Potentate for 1995. The burden of logistical support fell upon the Shrine as they had to transport cast personnel, costumes, and paraphernalia to the Scottish Rite Temple. Lunch and dinner arrangements were handled by the Scottish Rite.
Added to the concept of a joint program was naming the event in memory of Most Worshipful Werner H. Morlock, KCCH and member of Kena Shrine. The joint program resulted in 100 candidates for the Scottish Rite and slightly over 100 for the Shrine. This helped the Valley membership in that the year ended with a net loss of only 20.
A few words about the 1995 Venerable Master of the Lodge of Perfection – John M. Stainback, KCCH. John lived in Mt. Jackson, Virginia, about 120 miles from the Scottish Rite Temple. He served all eight years through the Lodge of Perfection line of officers. About the only meetings he did not attend during that eight year period were those when wintry weather conditions made his 240 mile journey too dangerous. That has been an unsurpassed achievement!
Following Supreme Council guidance about the changeover from Maundy Thursday, the Chapter of Rose Croix held its first Celebration of Remembrance and Light on May 10, 1996. Its format: a listing of all members whose deaths were recorded in the previous year was provided; Illustrious Brother Downs rendered the IN MEMORIAM commentary about the contributions made to the Scottish Rite by these deceased members; and the speech of inspiration for the occasion was delivered by Reverend and Brother F. Reed Brown, KCCH. The same pattern was practiced in the years that followed.
At the same May meeting of the Lodge of Perfection, James B. H. Lefever, 33°, was appointed Chairman of the Membership Committee. He became one of the most enthusiastic and widely traveled men to visit Blue Lodges and encourage their members to join the Scottish Rite.
Anyone who had sat on the wooden benches in the lodge room appreciated the addition of six to eight foot-long cushions that appeared on all the benches in September of 1996! This was a contribution by Henry Knox Field Lodge No. 349, one of the tenant organizations in the Temple. Its Worshipful Master, Roger S. Woodward, 32°, had proposed this contribution, and successfully persuaded his members to agree.
At the final meeting in 1996, Robert T. Hawks, Jr., Professor of History at George Mason University – our primary contact about the Webber Scholarship Fund – spoke about the status and value of the Webber Fund. He referred to the students who had received scholarships over the past 20 years – one Undergraduate and one Graduate American History major each year –and the great appreciation they had for the Scottish Rite.
During his visit, he was presented with the Valley‟s annual contribution check of $1,000 for the Fund.
As the year closed, the Valley‟s membership ended with just 9 above 3,000.
During the meetings in 1997, extra chairs were again brought into the lodge room on at least three occasions.
Also in 1997, the Supreme Council was deeply engrossed in revising all 29 of the degree scripts so as to make them more relevant to the original Albert Pike degrees, to reduce the length of them, and to achieve standardization of degree conferrals throughout the Southern Jurisdiction.
The first five of the revised degrees (4th, 14th, 18th, 30th, and 32nd) were sent to all the SGIGs as “Trial” degrees. SGIG Kruger arranged with the Supreme Council for these five to be conferred in Virginia first, as a trial, before implementation in the Southern Jurisdiction. Supreme Council officers, the Ritual and Degree Conferral Committee members, and other SGIGs would be present to review and evaluate these five trial degrees.
In Virginia, SGIG Kruger assigned responsibility for each degree to different Valleys. The projected date for conferring these trial degrees, as a statewide reunion, was set for May 8, 1999 in Richmond. Alexandria was responsible for the 32nd degree. Director of Work Robert C. Swiger, 33° announced at the March 13, 1998 meeting that David H. Smith, Sr., 33° would be the Director for this trial degree. Brother Smith later clarified that the existing 32°, and not the trial degree, would continue in the Valley until formally replaced by an official revised degree.
At the April 10, 1998 meeting, Education Chairman, Charles W. Wagner, KCCH made it known that plans were underway to tentatively hold Alexandria‟s first “Teacher of the Year” program later this year.
Beginning in 1998, the Supreme Council‟s Biennial Leadership Conference, held in several sectors of the Southern Jurisdiction, included an innovative approach for reaching out to younger members of the Rite.
The program referred to as “Fellows” was intended to bring together at the conference those younger brethren selected by the Valleys who offered future leadership potential in the Valley. These brethren met with the Sovereign Grand Commander several times during the conference to hear and respond to his views about the Fraternity, and their roles in it. Alexandria‟s “Fellows” have been:
1998 – Steven M. Hicks, KCCH
2000 – Wayne E. Ayers and Philip N. Rhodes
2002 – John A. Light
2004 – Randy E. Barger
2006 – James D. Baker
2008 – David H. Smith, Jr.
2010 – Keith R. Butler
(Except for Brother Hicks, all others were 32° at the time.)
On October 9, SGIG Kruger announced that he had notified all Valleys that the one-day statewide reunion next May would be named in memory of Charles A. Sinclair, 33°, Alexandria member and Grand Lecturer Emeritus of the Grand Lodge of Virginia.
A frigid start into 1999 brought about a January 8 meeting with only 23 members present. However, with knowledge of the incoming Masters‟ plans for their officer lineups, these 23 brethren held meetings of three Bodies, and elected 1999 officers for all three.
The 1999 Celebration of Remembrance and Light at the March Rose Croix meeting commemorated 69 deaths, and was attended by a “full house.”
Just days after the May 8 statewide reunion, a summary of that reunion was given at the May 14 meeting. With only the five “trial” degrees being conferred, there were 506 candidates to receive them. Alexandria‟s portion was 96. It should be noted that when Alexandria‟s conferral of the 32nd degree was completed, the audience gave the cast a standing ovation. (This had not occurred with any of the other four degrees.)
The effectiveness of Alexandria‟s reunions – like those of any other Valley – depends greatly on the ability of an audience to hear what the actors are saying. The remote, or radio, microphone system that had been in use for approximately ten years was limited to four radio microphones, and by 1998 was showing the ravages of time.
By happenstance, Brother B. Frederick Lehman, KCCH, moving along in years, was interested in making a lasting contribution to the Scottish Rite, but he didn‟t know what to specify it for. He agreed to the suggestion that a new sound system would be very beneficial to the Valley. Keister Walker, KCCH, the Valley‟s Sound Chairman and experienced technical expert, consulted with several companies in this field before recommending a final selection. The cost of the new system was paid for by Brother Lehman‟s June 11, 1999 check for $12,579.71.
With Harold J. Jennings, Jr., 33° as President of the Scottish Rite Conference of Virginia, Alexandria hosted the statewide conference in September of 1999. At the Friday night‟s banquet, Dr. Nicholas Bankson, Head of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at JMU, was present to describe the function of his department and relationship to the Scottish Rite Childhood Language program. Recipients of the Scottish Rite Fellowships described their goals in the Graduate program and future career plans. They also expressed great appreciation to the Scottish Rite for making this stage of their education possible. The Speaker for Saturday night‟s banquet was Secretary of Agriculture, Daniel Glickman, 33°. His appearance was arranged by Illustrious Brother Downs.
Not surprisingly, with the large number of candidates in the statewide Spring Reunion, there were only 18 candidates in the Fall Reunion.
Several new programs and activities were introduced in 2000. At the March 10 meeting, Brother C. Richard Walk, 32° discussed the “Night Out” that would take place at the Little Theatre of Alexandria on June 20. His earlier experience at Springfield Lodge No. 217 showed that buying out the entire theatre for a one-night sponsorship and then selling tickets was a good profit making venture. He presented the idea to Illustrious Brother Downs in 1999 who agreed to a one-time trial for the Scottish Rite. At that point, Brother Walk was able to successfully bid for a desired play on June 20, 2000.
It was a very successful venture! Although the objective of the event was not to realize a profit but to provide a family “Night Out” occasion – not a Masonic occasion --, the sale of 172 of the 213 seats available did result in net proceeds of $1,435. With this result and the enjoyment expressed by those attending, it was decided to continue this family event every three years; a more frequent occurrence could make it too routine and of less interest to potential attendees. Three years later, free shuttle bus transportation between the Temple and the theatre was introduced; this lessened the parking problems in the scarce and limited-time parking in the downtown area, and was a good incentive for people to attend the event. It proved very effective as the larger attendance provided more income to cover the additional expense for the buses.
A second new program, initiated and supported by the Supreme Council was titled the “JROTC Program.” Its purpose was to recognize outstanding JROTC cadets, and reward them for their achievements. In the program‟s 2000 inception, Alexandria‟s area included 19 high schools extending from Leesburg to Stafford and points west. A few more were added as the program continued in later years.
The awards consist of a distinctive Supreme Council certificate (signed by the Valley‟s Venerable Master and the Secretary) attesting to scholastic achievement, an impressive medallion, and a ribbon for display on the uniform. Brother John Shroeder, KCCH was the Manager of the JROTC program from the beginning and through the anniversary year. To make the presentations each year at the schools in the scattered locations, several brethren volunteered to assist Brother Shroeder in this wide geographical area task.
The third new program “Teacher of the Year,” had its beginning in September. Three outstanding teachers from different school districts in the Northern Virginia area were honored with a dinner, a Summary cited of their educational contributions, an “Appreciation Certificate,” and a check for $500. The dinner was held before a Stated meeting, and attended by Scottish Rite members and wives, invited guests of the teachers, their Principals and Superintendents. As the Speaker for the initial program, Stephen J. Trachtenberg, 33°, G.C., President of George Washington University, made an excellent presentation.
This program has continued, annually, and the three selectees to be recognized are rotated among the ten school districts during a three year period. Those involved in planning and carrying out the program have included: Charles W. Wagner, KCCH, Norman L. Hoff, Jr., 33°, and Ralph W. Smith, Jr., KCCH.
In April of 2000, The Valley received a joint letter from the Sovereign Grand Commanders of both the Southern and Northern Jurisdictions stating their opposition to a movement within the Shrine to eliminate Masonic membership as a prerequisite to becoming a member of the Shrine. They considered such action as divisive when the need was for Masonic Unity.
At the August 11 Alexandria meeting, a letter on this subject was received from the Southern Jurisdiction Grand Commander. He deplored the recent action by the Imperial Shrine Convention which eliminated membership in the Scottish Rite and York Rite as a prerequisite to join the Shrine. He again stressed his continuing theme of Unity.
There were immediate and long range impacts of the Shrine action in the Alexandria Valley as well as across the Southern Jurisdiction. The Shrine was enabled to solicit Blue Lodge members direct rather than awaiting their membership in the Scottish or York Rite. A number of Shriners who had belonged to the Scottish Rite for a period of years discontinued their Scottish Rite memberships. This added to the existing pattern of membership decline. At the end of 2000, the Valley had recorded 52 new members for the year, but sustained losses (deaths, demits, suspensions) for a net loss of 83, and ended the year with 2,798 members.
The year 2001 was eventful and memorable in many ways. Predominantly, it marked 200 years since the Supreme Council was formed in Charleston, South Carolina, and was appropriately designated the Bicentennial year.
Speaker for the Valley‟s July 13 meeting was the Supreme Council‟s Grand Executive Director, W. Gene Sizemore, 33°, G. C. He related how plans and detailed arrangements for the Bicentennial Session in Charleston in October had been taking place at the Supreme Council over the past seven years!
When October arrived – and with due remembrance and solemnity of the September 11 national tragedy – thousands of Scottish Rite Masons, families, friends, Masonic dignitaries from Grand Lodges and foreign Supreme Councils gathered in Charleston for this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. The Supreme Council had planned well! All Alexandria selectees for the KCCH and 33° honors received them there in an inspiring setting. Anyone who went to Charleston for the Bicentennial could later say, with historical pride, “I was there!”
In anticipation of his becoming Venerable Master in 2001, William B. Malone, KCCH, in late 2000 observed that 2001 would also be the Valley‟s 90th year since its charter was granted. He thought it would be meaningful if Alexandria could hold a meeting at the Supreme Council as an observance of two separate anniversaries in the same year: 200 years for the Supreme Council, 90 for Alexandria. The Supreme Council approved.
March 9 was selected for this event since it was the only month when all four Bodies would meet on the same night. Three chartered buses transported the group to and from the House of the Temple. Ninety-seven brethren used Supreme Council crimson-ink pens to register, but, as usual, some did not sign the Register.
Steven M. Hicks, 33° highlighted interesting and major happenings during the 90 years since the Valley was chartered. The Celebration of Remembrance and Light was also conducted at this meeting. Illustrious Brother Sizemore, 33°, G.C. represented the Supreme Council during this visit. Presiding officers in 2001 who all sat in the East during the entire meeting were:
Venerable Master – William B. Malone, KCCH
Wise Master -- William D. Mitchell, 32°
Commander -- F. J. Pepper, 32°
Master of Kadosh - John D. Jenkins, KCCH
At the April 13 meeting action was taken to discontinue allocating $50 of a petitioner‟s fee to the Building Fund (a practice since February 1966 to help build up funds for a hoped for new Temple). It was determined that with finances being squeezed, the $50 would be better used to help defray operating expenses.
Also at the April 13 meeting, Illustrious Brother Downs presented a plan for Life Membership that would satisfy requirements of the Supreme Council Statutes and help both the Valley and individual members. He had previously proposed the plan to the Trustees; then to the four Masters; all had concurred. It was designed to better assure membership stability and individual finances, both in the short term and in the long run. The fees for purchase of Life Membership were set at 17 x current dues, but only two-thirds that amount for brethren 75 years of age and older. All purchase fees were to be placed in a special Fund administered by the Trustees, and only the income from it to be used by the Valley.
The plan was approved at this meeting. By the end of 2001, 62 had become Life Members. Nine years later, 261 had purchased Life Memberships. In addition, 14 living members from the previous plan (discontinued in 1987) continue on the rolls as Life Members.
In July, Roy Martin Heaster, KCCH was appointed Director of Work to succeed Robert C. Swiger, 33°, Director of Work Emeritus. The Fall Bicentennial Reunion was a one-day Class with 50 candidates.
2002 was not a good year for being able to welcome a large number of new members into the Valley. The Spring Reunion initiated the lowest number of candidates in modern times – 10! The Fall Reunion, only 19, a total of 29 for the year. Deaths and suspensions far exceeded this number.
Raymond B. Butts, KCCH, Treasurer, died on November 11, 2002. He had served in that position since 1990. Brother Marty Heaster, KCCH assisted in the Treasurer‟s duties on a temporary basis until he was elected to the office in January 2003.
At the November 2002 meeting, SGIG Kruger announced his retirement at the end of the year, and invited everyone to the farewell party he would be giving at the Richmond Scottish Rite Temple on Sunday, November 17.
A letter from the Sovereign Grand Commander was read at the December 13 meeting. This was his official appointment of James D. Cole, 33°, member of the Roanoke Valley, as Deputy of the Supreme Council in Virginia to succeed Illustrious Brother Kruger on January 1, 2003.
The January 10, 2003 meeting brought forth the idea for a new and lasting program. Illustrious Brother Downs asked those present if they would be agreeable to support an every-other-month pre-meeting dinner. The individual cost would be $5, with the Valley paying the balance of what would be charged by the ladies preparing the meal. The reaction was so favorable that he announced the first dinner would be held prior to the March 14 meeting. This has been a continuing arrangement.
The Spring Reunion was a repeat of the Spring Reunion a year ago – 10 candidates!
The Valley was honored to have as its guest Speaker on September 12 the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia, Frederick G. Martin. Brother Martin was also a Thirty-third degree active member of the Richmond Valley.
The 2004 Spring Reunion was slightly better than the two previous Spring Reunions. There were 18 in the 2004 Class.
Brother James B. H. Lefever, 33° began his outstanding service as Membership Chairman in 1996, but had to relinquish that office in early 2004 because of health problems. On June 11 Brother Thomas A. Reese, KCCH was appointed Chairman. He served in that post through 2009. Another committee change was necessary because of health problems of Kelly T. McCracken, Jr., 33° who was super efficient in his role as head of the Sick Committee function. Brother John Shroeder, Jr., KCCH replaced Kelly on July 9. Brother McCracken died a month later on August 31.
It was a particular honor for the Valley when the new Sovereign Grand Commander (October 2003) Illustrious Ronald A. Seale, 33° was the Speaker for the 2004 Feast of Tishri program in October. He added much inspiration to this annual program, and his presence was greatly appreciated by all in attendance.
Two outstanding things stood out for the Valley in 2005. First, it was pre-announced for the July 8 meeting that former Governor of Virginia, James S. Gilmore would be the Speaker. Even with additional chairs in the room, there were many standing. Governor Gilmore discussed ways of countering terrorism, but also expressed his belief in Masonry and its benefit to humanity. Brother Gilmore was a member of Tuckahoe Lodge No. 347 in Richmond. Brother Gilmore spoke before the lodge was officially opened, and then left for his travel home. Lodge was not opened until 8:18. The Governor‟s appearance was arranged by Brother Kenneth L. Foran, 32°.
The second event involved an incredible number – in light of the prevailing trend – of 73 candidates in the Fall Reunion. Several thoughts, actions, and timing brought this about. First, it was designated a one-day reunion. Secondly, the large one-day Blue Lodge conferrals of all three degrees, held earlier throughout the state, provided a good potential source for candidates for the Fall Class. Thirdly, our members were consistently aware of this unusual opportunity to obtain candidates. And fourthly, the SGIG authorized petitions to be received at a later date than usual. All of these factors came together to make the Valley and its 73 candidates a standout in the state.
Brother Roy M. “Marty” Heaster, 33°, Director of Work, announced at the January 13, 2006 meeting that the revised degrees for each of the 15 we confer would be, for the first time, used at the Spring Reunion. At the April meeting, and related to reunion productions, Illustrious Brother “Jack” Canard, Stage Director for 13 years, asked to be relieved from that position. He stated he would continue until a replacement was selected. On June 8, 2007, Director of Work Heaster announced that Earl R. Jones, KCCH would take over the Stage Director position.
In February 2007, and in anticipation of the upcoming Spring Reunion, Brother Jose S. Rubio, 32° devised an incentive for obtaining candidates. At the time, there were only two petitions on hand (and only 13 in the previous Class). He offered to personally purchase a cap case ($20 each) for each member in the Spring Class. The final number in the Class was 37! Brother Rubio held fast to his original offer. At the May 11 meeting Class Speaker George W. Edelen assured Brother Rubio that the entire Class appreciated his generosity!
When the June 8 “Teacher of the Year” program was held, it also included the presentation of our annual $1,000 “Webber Fund” contribution to a representative of the GMU History Department. This was intended to show the general public the Scottish Rite‟s interest in public schools, teachers, and education in general.
Alexandria hosted the annual statewide Scottish Rite Conference of Virginia on September 14-15, 2007. President David H. Smith, Sr., 33° and a sizable group of brethren and ladies had made detailed plans and arrangements during the previous year, with intensive efforts occurring in the last two months. The conference format was carried out in accordance with the guidelines prescribed by SGIG Cole. Attendance was slightly lower than anticipated, but followed a general trend of the last few conferences. Brother William Larry Alexander, KCCH became the new Alexandria Vice President for the Conference.
An exciting moment occurred at the January 11, 2008 meeting when the Venerable Master recognized the presence of the 2008 Grand Master of Masons in Virginia – our own Edmund Cohen, 33°!
Education Chairman Norman L. Hoff, Jr., 33° announced at the April 11 meeting that the Supreme Council had developed, and was initiating, a correspondence course intended to increase Masonic knowledge. Titled the “Master Craftsman Program,” any member could apply to the Supreme Council to enroll. Two Masonic reference books were to be purchased by each participant in order to pursue the “open book” tests; when completed, they would be “graded” by various officials at the Supreme Council and then returned to the individual; this was to be followed by issuance of a certificate of completion and a special lapel emblem.
At the September 12 meeting, David H. Smith, Jr., 32°, the Education Committee member administering the program for the Valley, announced the first course completion by an Alexandria member. The certificate and lapel pin were presented to Brother John T. Tillery, 32° who had just become a member of the Valley at the 2008 Spring Reunion. By the end of 2008 12 others had also completed the course. By the end of 2010 a total of 31 had completed Course No. 1. Four of these 31 brethren had also undertaken Course No. 2.
To bring 2008 to a pleasant close, two letters from neighbors were received which expressed appreciation for use of our parking lot during road construction in the neighborhood. They referred to the Scottish Rite as “being such a good neighbor.”
The January 2009 Bulletin included an announcement that Illustrious Brother Downs would retire at the end of the year. This would complete 27 years as Secretary and 26 years as the Personal Representative of the SGIG. He had discussed this the month before with SGIG Cole who would appoint his successor. A letter from Brother Cole was read at the January meeting indicating that he had appointed Brother Edmund Cohen, 33° as Assistant Personal Representative, and would appoint him as Personal Representative later in the year.
Following Supreme Council guidelines, a new program titled “Scottish Rite Friends Dinner” was held on March 7. In addition to a $50 dinner at the Temple, the evening consisted of a silent auction, and an open auction of numerous items on display of varying perceived values. The net income over expenses was divided equally between the House of the Temple Preservation Fund and Virginia‟s Scottish Rite Foundation. This was strictly a charitable event which would be repeated in future years. Matthew T. Szramoski, KCCH handled this initial event.
SGIG Cole‟s letter appointing Illustrious Edmund Cohen as his Personal Representative was read in its entirety (at Brother Cole‟s request) at the July 10 meeting. He indicated that Brother Downs would continue as Secretary for the remainder of the year, but also appointed two brethren to serve as Assistant Secretaries during the remaining months. He asked the members to join him “in congratulating Illustrious Brother Walter on his longstanding and exemplary service to the Valley of Alexandria.” He specifically charged the new Personal Representative to (1) enhance the Valley‟s website and (2) to establish a Strategic Plan for the Valley.
2009 being Honors year, it was Alexandria‟s “turn” to perform the KCCH Investiture in Richmond on October 31. Several rehearsals were held in the months prior to October, both in Alexandria and in Richmond. William Larry Alexander, who had received the 33° a month earlier, directed the cast and served in the main role as Sovereign Grand Commander.
Brother James D. Hawkins, KCCH, Editor of the Valley‟s monthly Bulletin, developed a new format for the publication. It changed the layout size for printing production purposes, thus
lowering production costs while also providing more space for articles and pictures. The first new Bulletin was the issue for January-February 2010. Its readers were very favorably impressed with the new style.
Illustrious Brother Cohen, at the November 13 meeting, announced his appointment of Robert G. Watkins, Jr., 33° as Chairman of the Strategic Objectives Committee, and then introduced the several other members who would serve on the committee.
An end of the year‟s Trustees Report showed the wisdom of the Building Fund campaign that began back in the 1980s: that we needed to strengthen the Fund “to provide for major maintenance needs and future improvements to the facility.” Over the 39 year period, the earnings from the Fund had defrayed many costly items, e. g. complete exterior painting every five years, complete parking lot repaving (and extensive repairs prior to that), replacement of the largest roof and two other flat roofs, upgraded plumbing, construction of a sewer line, and many others.
Between 2004 and 2009, the $677,000 earnings of the Building Fund were used to: defray some $350,000 in major expenses, cover about $20,000 a year of the Valley‟s operating deficits, and “plow back” money into the Fund‟s corpus for further investment.
There were three particular items that took place at the January 8, 2010 meeting. In addition to the election of officers in three Bodies, SGIG Cole appointed Illustrious David C. Morris, 33° as Secretary of all Four Bodies; all officers would be installed at the Open Installation on January 16. A second item was the members‟ approval of the Budget Committee‟s proposal to increase the petition fee from $175 to $225 and still provide for a $50 reduction for those under age 31. The third matter was Illustrious Brother Cohen‟s announcement that the Alexandria Scottish Rite Website was now in existence, and encouraged the brethren to view it and offer any suggestions for improvement.
On March 6, a well planned retirement dinner for Illustrious Brother Downs was held in the Dining Room and was attended by just over 200 people – brethren, ladies, and friends. Among those honored guests present were:
William E. Rorer, Jr., Grand Master of Masons in Virginia
Ronald A. Seale, Sovereign Grand Commander, Supreme Council
W. Gene Sizemore, Grand Executive Director, Supreme Council
David Kruger, Past SGIG in Virginia and Emeritus Member of the Supreme Council
A number of gifts (paid for by those attending) were presented to Walter, including a computer, printer, and computer desk. A very meaningful gift, in appreciation for his services to them during his 27 years as Secretary, was presented by the Al Manarah Court No. 50, Ladies Oriental Shrine. It was a $5,000 check to the Childhood Language Disorders Program.
At the end of the evening, Illustrious Brother Downs responded with humility, humor and gratitude about his service to the Scottish Rite and Freemasonry in general.
Illustrious Ed Cohen, at the March 12 meeting, provided update information about the progress on the website, how committee charters were being revised, plans to replace the Dining Room rectangular tables with round ones, and current thinking to add some décor to the Dining Room.
Also at this meeting, the Strategic Plan for the Valley was adopted. This delineated the following seven Objectives for the Valley:
1. Establish an effective program to attract and retain members.
2. Establish an effective governance structure.
3. Improve Valley meetings and programs.
4. Institute a comprehensive program of Masonic education and training.
5. Enhance the image of Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite.
6. Support and expand the philanthropic activities of the Valley.
7. Provide the framework for financial success by identifying mid-term (3 year) and long-term (4-8 year) financial goals and strategies.
At the April 9 meeting Illustrious Brother Cohen announced that Minutes of the previous meetings would no longer be read, but would be available at the Secretary‟s desk should anyone wish to peruse them. This was one of the steps intended to make the meetings shorter and more enjoyable. Along that same line, he explained at the May 14 meeting some other changes to streamline the meeting format and allow adequate time to include: a main speaker or program, a program of Masonic education, and remarks and discussion led by the Personal Representative.
The revised By-Laws, which were reviewed at the April 9 meeting, discussed and approved at the June 11 meeting, and approved by SGIG Cole on June 29.
These By-Laws incorporated three major changes. Each of the four Bodies was given an expanded role and responsibility for programs and projects. Eight Standing Committees were established (Audit, Budget and Finance, Education and Americanism, Library, Membership, Member Retention, Philanthropic, and Public Relations), each with specific duties. And an Executive Council was created to review and coordinate Valley programs, policies, procedures, and problems. Composition of the Council included: the Personal Representative as Chair, and the Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Treasurer, the top two officers of each Body, and the Chairmen of the Standing Committees; the By-Laws called for Council meetings to be held every other month.
In July Illustrious Brother Ed announced the start of the Valley Officer Training Program for the top two line officers of all four Bodies in the fall. This would cover those to hold office in 2011 and 2012. This comprehensive program was presented by Illustrious Norman Hoff in a series of three sessions in September, October, and November.
In Illustrious Brother Cohen‟s updating remarks at the August 13 meeting, he indicated that the Executive Council was developing an “Awards Program” to recognize brethren and area citizens whose contributions have been significant and worthy.
At the September 10 meeting Illustrious David C. Morris,33° was elected to serve a second four-year term as Alexandria‟s member on the Board of Directors, Scottish Rite Foundation of Virginia.
As 2010 was nearing an end, Illustrious Brother Cohen summarized the many initiatives undertaken during the year – as described on pages 38 and 39 – which he believed would have a major impact on the effectiveness of the Valley. Moreover, the additional information being placed on the Valley‟s website was providing more transparency about the administration of the Valley and its various activities. For example, a detailed “Valley Procedures Manual,” prepared by Illustrious Norman L. Hoff, Jr., had been added to the website. As he looked to the future, he said “All of this is only a beginning, and much more is contained in our strategic plan which will be addressed [further] in 2011.”
In October a general plan for observing the Valley‟s 100th anniversary was given for the information of those present, with more details to follow.
When David C. Morris, 33° became Secretary in 2010, he was only the eleventh person to assume that position since 1910. Here are the other ten:
1910 – 1912 -- Vernon A. Slaughter, 32°
1913 – 1914 – James E. King, 32°
1915 – 1928 – Frank W. Latham, 33°
1929 – 1935 – Percy E. Clift, 33°
1936 – 1940 – Robert C. Leachman, 33°
1941 – 1947 – A. M. Sherwood, 33°
1948 – 1970 – Thomas Fately, 33°
1970 – 1975 – Carleton T. Washburn, 33°
1976 – 1982 – Winston W. Watts, 33°
1983 – 2009 – Walter S. Downs, 33° Grand Cross
During the year 2010, many plans were underway for observing the 100th anniversary year in 2011. Illustrious Edmund Cohen in meetings with the Executive Council members explored numerous items and activities for making this year a truly exciting and interesting year to celebrate, and to encourage large participation by members, families, and friends. Michael A. Riley, KCCH, who was the 2010 Venerable Master, was designated the 100th Anniversary Chairman.
As 2011 set in, the plans for the year began to solidify, although some details of individual events remained to be completed. A general schedule at this point in time included the following:
January – First Annual Awards Banquet to recognize: (1) members having given meritorious long term service to the Valley, (2) members who did particularly notable work for the Valley during the past year, and (3) those persons who render outstanding service to their communities.
March – A Friends and Family Dinner including a silent auction to be held in the Scottish Rite Dining Room. This will be a charitable event where the proceeds are divided between the Supreme Council‟s “Temple Preservation Fund” and the “Scottish Rite Foundation of Virginia” for use in carrying out the Childhood Language Disorders Program.
May – The First Annual Ladies Appreciation and Widows Recognition Dinner. Special pins will be presented to the ladies.
June – Picnic for members, families, and friends.
August – A family event, such as a theater, a cruise, or other activity to be determined.
October – Gala banquet and program to commemorate and celebrate the charter for the Alexandria Scottish Rite granted by the Supreme Council on October 16, 1911.
Another offering to commemorate this year will be the sale of a sports-type cap. On its front, it will bear the Scottish Rite double-headed eagle emblem with the inscription around it “Alexandria Scottish Rite 100 Years of Brotherhood and Light.” It was planned that these would be available to the first 100 purchasers, but if demand should require more, an additional lot would be procured.
A target for the year will be to have at least 100 candidates become Scottish Rite members.
While this history was being finalized, the January event had taken place. The Awards Dinner occurred just before the regularly scheduled monthly meeting on January 14. Those receiving the Certificate of Merit were: Walter S. Downs, 33°, G.C., Granville C. “Jack” Canard, 33°, William B. Malone, 33°, and Norman L. Hoff, Jr., 33°. Presented with the Certificate of Appreciation were: James D. Hawkins, KCCH, David H. Smith, Sr., 33°, and Robert G. Watkins, Jr., 33°. Recipients of the Community Service Award were: Honorable Radella S. “Del” Pepper, Alexandria City Councilwoman, and Honorable John D. Jenkins 33°, Supervisor on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.
Heads of the four Bodies during this centennial year were:
Venerable Master – James A. Loudermilk, KCCH
Wise Master -- Carl R. Gagliardi, KCCH
Commander -- Roger W. Peak, KCCH
Master of Kadosh – Ralph W. Smith, Jr., KCCH
At this early beginning of 2011, everyone was eagerly looking for the rest of the year to unfold, and to get ready to start the second century of the Scottish Rite in Alexandria.
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