Ill. Stanley T. Benner, 33 °, shares about three men who touched his life in Freemasonry.
There are three PM’s who have really touched my heart in my 49 plus years in Masonry. Two were PM’s of Lincoln Lodge #693 in Middletown – Chester R. Berry and Cary I. Fenton MSA and Thomas C. Hubler 33° from Eastern Star Lodge #55 in Franklin, Ohio. We were all great friends and when they became seriously sick we talked about life, the good times and bad and regrets of the past and their loved ones that would be left behind. I allowed them to talk with me when others wanted to stay away from the subject. When they died a part of me died with them. I don’t know how to explain how this happened, but for the fact that we were Masons trying to help and understand what would lie ahead.
Chester was a terrible diabetic and his kidneys, we’re shutting down and there was little to be done but await death. He loved to eat, but was told that was the worst thing he could do for his health. When the end was near, his wife Jean asked if my wife Jerrolyn could fix him his favorite meal, which was a roast with all the trimmings and dessert. He had one of his last meals with us and he loved it! Shortly after, he was administered anesthesia for a routine test and never woke up. I gave his Masonic service and even sang a song just for him.
Next came Cary I Fenton, an MSA from the Valley of Dayton, who fought colon cancer for many years. When he had a bone marrow transplant, I would call and visit him during his recovery and treatment. His wife Nancy also had cancer and when she died, Cary just gave up and quit his cancer treatments and died within the next year. We traveled to Scottish Rite many times. He was the first director of the new 17° degree and active in Red Cross. When Cary was nearing his end, hospice cared for Cary at his home. I got a phone call during a round of golf from a hospice nurse and she said Cary wanted to see his best friend! 😢 I directly went to his house and he was awaiting me before he died. I held his hand and talked with him and kissed him on his forehead and said goodbye to my best friend. I again did his Masonic Funeral Serice and his ring service as well.
Next was Thomas Hubler 33° who was my mentor director of the Eighteenth Degree since I left being the Most Wise Master in 1997. Once he became really sick with Parkinson’s disease, he announced his decision to retire as Director of the Eighteenth and asked me to replace him. I would try to visit Tom weekly and call him between my visits. Tom was a planner and he typed out on a sheet of paper how his Masonic Service and Scottish Rite Ring Service would be delivered. I gave all the funeral services per his written instructions and sang two songs as well.
These were my Masonic brothers who I dearly loved and think of them often. I would never have met them if we weren’t members of the Masonic Fraternity. We had a bond that no one could break. I don’t know if I should list their names or not, because there are so many other Masons who have touched my life in a positive way during my journey. I will continue to give what comfort I can to people who want to talk about their troubles in life. I’ve shared with two brothers whose sons have committed suicide and the pain that each of us have suffered. Life goes on.
We are pleased to announce an exciting new Masonic speaker series hosted by the Valley of Dayton on Zoom. Our first speaker will be Masonic author and scholar Ill. Bro. Mark A. Tabbert, 33°, who will be our online guest June 24. The series will be a webinar where you will not only hear a presentation, but can ask questions of our guests.
This program is open to all Master Masons free of charge — but we require advance registration at the link below:
Though I am new to Masonry, Masonry is not new to me. I became a Master Mason at 67 years of age and my only regrets were that I didn’t do it when I was 21 and that I was not able to have my father sign my petition. My father was very prominent in his lodge and especially as Commander of his Knights Templar Commandery. My father signed me up for DeMolay where I was very active and for the most of my tenure was the Secretary/Treasurer of my chapter.
My career took me to live all over the United States and consequently I never petitioned a lodge. I came home to care for my father after being estranged from the family for 32 years. Dad said in a conversation that he would sign my petition and pay my dues and help me study for my degrees. Well, dad was 95 with great intentions and it just never happened. My father was a great man for imparting all types of wisdom and some which at times was humorous while being true. One thing he said to me about my desire to become a Mason was this, “Son, being a Mason will improve every aspect of your life and will make you a better man. While you’ll never be disappointed in what Masonry has to teach you, you may at times be disappointed in some of your brother Masons.” Well, we’re all human and when you enter the human element you are often disappointed.
I didn’t have many friends through the years, probably from moving around a lot and being naturally kind of a loner. I’m widowed and live alone. After laying dad to rest I asked his closest friend and golf buddy if he would sign my petition. After saying yes, he came back to me and said, “You know, I’m over 80 years old and don’t have much energy for that but I have a really close friend who pretty much runs the Masonic Temple and with his name on your petition and your dad’s name in the Temple you won’t have a problem. I’ll have him call you.” A week or so later I got a call, “I hear you’re interested in becoming a Mason.” The man went on to tell me “You know, your dad, and my dad used to study for their degrees together.” I said I wasn’t surprised by that as my dad was very involved with his lodge. The man went on, “You don’t recognize me do you.” He told me his name and I nearly passed out. We grew up together, went through DeMolay together and were friends through High School and I hadn’t seen him since. We are now very close friends, and he has been at my side every step of the way.
My plan is to follow York Rite to Knight’s Templar and follow my father, grand father and great grandfather’s footsteps. I became a 32nd degree Mason last November and in yesterday’s mail I received my certificate. As I looked at it, the tears streamed down my face and I looked up and just said, ‘Well how about that,Pop, what do you think about this!”
My health is taking a few new turns and being without family and only a few friends causes one to think. While I hope to be more active and make more friends which I’ve already started to do, I know that I have a place to go if I need to, if living on my own becomes dangerous.
When I go to my lodge meetings there are times when we barely can fill the seats of the officers. I sit there and imagine that lodge hall in my father’s day or in the day of my ancestors that belonged to that lodge. I imagine the room filled to capacity. I remember parades in town with huge formations and drills by the Knights Templar and large announcements in the newspaper for installations of officers of the lodges. Times change. I hope the pendulum will begin to swing the other way. With the world
seeming to crumble around our shins we need more Masons, we need more good men and continue to make good men better. I wish I could meet every Mason out there!
Rodger Daye 32nd Degree Valley of Dayton
Anthony Lodge # 455
I didn’t know what to expect when I joined the Valley of Dayton at the Fall Reunion of 2019. I was happy to find a welcoming community that values Ritual, Masonic Education, and lives up to its Core Values. I was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason in 2014, however, at the time of the Fall Reunion, I wasn’t active in Freemasonry. An email invitation to this reunion led me to submit a petition.
My positive experience at the Fall Reunion reignited my passion for Freemasonry. It was the perfect way to reconnect with the Fraternity and inspired me to become active in my Blue Lodge. To continue my Scottish Rite education, I enrolled in the NMJ’s Hauts Grades Academy, which I highly recommend. It has been enlightening to delve into the history of each degree and study the meaning of the ritual. As a veteran, it was an honor to be recognized at the Fall Reunion by the Sovereign Grand Commander along with so many Brethren. The reunion is one of my all-time favorite Masonic memories.
I’m thankful the Valley of Dayton is still active and vibrant during this shutdown. At the onset of coronavirus, the Valley instituted a calling program to check in on its at-risk members. It was time to put our Core Values into action. It was important to connect with these Brethren and it was a therapeutic experience to take part in. Additionally, the Supreme Council’s online video degrees and the Valley of Dayton’s online discussion groups have been a wonderful outlet. An outlet that I would not have had if I didn’t act upon that invitation to join the Scottish Rite. The lessons of Freemasonry can guide us during troubled times, I’m reminded to always be faithful and keep my hope in God. Be safe, Brethren.
“Spes mea in Deo est.”
Illustrious and Most Worshipful Brother Terry W. Posey, 33°, shares the following memory of Brother Crosby, whose brief Masonic biography appears below:
“ On October 15, 2010, I presented Comedian Norm Crosby, 33°, with the Rufus Putnam Award in the auditorium of the Dayton Masonic Center. The highest award of the Grand Lodge of Ohio was given for Brother Crosby’s lifetime of charitable works for the hearing impaired. “
From the website of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction:
Ill. Norm Crosby, 33°, Grand Cross, is a Boston-born American comedian known for his use of malapropisms and often called The Master of Malaprop. He has been a Freemason since 1956, receiving the Grand Cross from the Supreme Council in October 1997. He is a member of Ionic Composite Lodge No. 520 in Los Angeles, California.
Bro. Crosby went solo as a standup comedian in the 1950s and adopted a friendly, blue collar, guy-next-door attitude. He refined his standup monologues by throwing in malapropisms. In 1968, he co-starred on “The Beautiful Phyllis Diller Show,” and from 1978 to 1981, Crosby hosted the nationally syndicated series, “The Comedy Shop,” aka “Norm Crosby’s Comedy Shop.” In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he became a spokesman for Anheuser-Busch Natural Light Beer. Since 1983 Norm Crosby has co-hosted and contributed to the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Some links for your enjoyment:
Some of Bro. Crosby’s best known lines – https://www.azquotes.com/author/3436-Norm_Crosby
Norm Crosby appearing on the Dean Martin show – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnX-EPaAIdU