This past week, I visited four of our five Southeast Alaska Lodges. I was accompanied on my visits by RW Johnnie Wallace, DGM; RW Ron Ackerman, SGW; and VW Jerry Hughes, DDGM District #4. Additionally, we were joined by VW Roger Hansen, PDDGM in Ketchikan and Petersburg. Despite the cool S.E. weather, we received a very warm and cheery reception. Following is a Log of those visits:
Tuesday, March 10 – Mt. Juneau-Gastineaux Lodge No. 21
The activities at Mt. Juneau-Gastineaux Lodge began in the early afternoon with an Al Aska Shrine ceremonial, where four Master Masons were made Shriners. The ceremonial was officiated by Illustrious Potentate Ken Krasselt, Past Potentate Tim Jellison, Assistant Rabban Nick Nikolas, and High Priest and Prophet Bruce Kling. After the Shrine ceremonial, Brother Mike Race suffered through the falling snow to prepare a delicious barbeque dinner for the members and guests.
We next proceeded to the Lodge room, where Lodge was opened by W Jeff Defreest, Worshipful Master of Mt. Juneau-Gastineaux Lodge No. 21. During this my first official visitation, I assumed the ‘East’ and performed the installation ceremony for W Tom Cochran, White Pass Lodge No. 1, who was installed as Grand Tyler of the Grand Lodge of Alaska for 2009. We had a very enjoyable evening and were blessed by the presence of four elder statesmen of the Juneau Lodge, vis. W John Sandor, VW Walter Soboleff, VW Jim Devon, and VW Harley Clough. These brethren have 212 years of Masonry between them, and Dr. Soboleff, who gave the benediction at the close of the meeting, will be celebrating his 101st birthday on November 14.
Wednesday, March 11 – Mt. Verstovia Lodge No. 18
We traveled from Juneau to Sitka for the Grand Master’s Reception at Mt. Verstovia Lodge No. 18. At 2:00 pm, prior to our visit to the Lodge, we participated in a bicycle give away to a third grade student at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. This was the 12th presentation of a bicycle that Mt. Verstovia Lodge has made in the past three years. We donned our Grand Lodge regalia in support of this media event. A special thanks to Brother Carroll Fader, the founder of this event, for arranging our participation.
A delicious dinner, made from fresh local shrimp, was prepared by W John Bahrt, after which we all proceeded into the Lodge room for introductions and messages from Grand Lodge.
Thursday, March 12 – Ketchikan Lodge No. 19
After a short weather delay, we made our way from Sitka to Ketchikan, where we were met at the airport by MW John Grainger, PGM. We had to wait half an hour to take the five minute ferry ride from the Airport on Gravina Island into the town of Ketchikan. Ketchikan is the site of the so called “bridge to no-where”, which is proposed to connect a major transportation hub with the community. A special thank you to the brethren of Ketchikan, most especially Worshipful Master Jesse Kvale for wonderful dinner and great fellowship at Annabelle's Restaurant and Chowder House. Following dinner, we strolled from the restaurant to Ketchikan’s historic Lodge building for introductions and messages.
Friday, March 13 – Petersburg Lodge No. 23
Petersburg is located on Mitkof Island in the beautiful Inside Passage of Alaska. In 2002, Petersburg Lodge No. 23 became the last of the Alaska Lodges that remained under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Washington to join the Grand Lodge of Alaska. This Lodge has remained in a fragile state and has struggled to keep a foothold in the community. I left our visit to this beautiful area with optimism that we may be witnessing a resurgence of Masonry there. After a wonderful prime rib dinner, we settled down to view the Lee Sherman Dreyfus video, “Freemasonry and the Fabric of America”. The Lodge had invited members of the community who had expressed an interest in Freemasonry to participate in this event and the video was a precursor to a question and answer period about Masonry. There were many challenging questions asked and the members and guests alike left with a greater appreciation of our gentle craft. A special thank you to Worshipful Brother Dale Bosworth for all of the courtesies extended to us during our visit.