On August 28, 1959 I witnessed the Constitution of Thornton F. McElroy Lodge No. 302 in Federal Way, Washington. I was eleven years old at the time. TF McElroy was the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Washington and Lodge No. 302 was the first lodge constituted in the second 100 years of the Grand Lodge, it having celebrated its first 100 years earlier in 1959.
On Saturday, August 29, 2009, I witnessed the rededication of Thornton F. McElroy Lodge on its 50th Anniversary. This was a bittersweet occasion for me, since I was virtually raised by T.F. McElroy Lodge. I say that, while knowing that I was actually raised as a Master Mason on July 7, 1995 in Matanuska Lodge No. 7 in Palmer, Alaska. What I mean by saying that I was raised by T.F. McElroy Lodge, is that its founding members had a significant influence on my growth and development toward manhood. These men were my first employer, my first coworkers, my high school principal, my first auto insurance agent, and my DeMolay Dad advisors.
I remember Dad’s (J.K. Cline) excitement at being appointed Junior Steward of the lodge, and Mom’s less than exuberant enthusiasm at having to prepare meals for the lodge for two years. My grandmother lived with us then, and she and mom made some delicious pies every Wednesday night for those first two years. I remember, too, my less than favorable impression of Masonry as I watched those wonderful pies go out the door without even tasting the slightest crumb. It wasn’t long after that, that my brother and I also got the Masonic spirit when we joined the newly chartered Federal Way Chapter Order of DeMolay. It seems like yesterday that I was practicing the DeMolay ritual and enjoying the dances and get-togethers with Jobies and Rainbow Girls.
Dad was the sixth Worshipful Master of T.F. McElroy. Today he is the only living Past Master who was also a charter member of the lodge. All of those wonderful Masons who helped shape my life are no longer with us, and I miss them.
The rededication of the Lodge was conducted by the officers of the Grand Lodge of Washington, with MW Gale H. Kenney presiding. Dad performed the part of the “Messenger” to invite the Grand Lodge Officers into the Lodge room. As the visiting Grand Master from Alaska, I was extended the honor of joining the Grand Master of Washington in the East. And, as a life member of T.F. McElroy, I participated in a part of the rededication ceremony. I was given an additional honor, when the Worshipful Master of T.F. McElroy (D. Rex Reardon) made me an honorary Past Master of the Lodge and presented me with my Past Master’s Apron.
It was great to participate in this event and be part of a moment in the history of T.F. McElroy Lodge. It was also nice to remember the great Masons who created this Lodge 50 years ago and to look forward to its exciting and prosperous future.