Holiday Magic
M.O.O.O. Serves Up Christmas in Iowa
Gift Computes For Eight-Year-Old
Happy Holidays In Iowa
Special Holiday Sale Of Souvenir Biennial Session Medallions
Everything But Reindeer
Clinic Party In Cheyenne, Wyoming
Vern S. Wertz Appointed Executive and Administrative Officer in Oregon
King Kalakaua’s Sword
Louisiana Scottish Rite Trestleboard Launched
Catch The Spirit Of Virginia Rainbow
Ill. Goldsmith Public Relations Trophy
In Memoriam: Ill. Gene Autry, 33° Grand Cross, 1907–1998

Holiday Magic

Every December, two Washington, North Carolina, Lodges, Orr No. 144 and Washington No. 675, hold a party for needy youngsters. Local ministers and civic organizations chose children, and shopping lists are obtained from guardians. At the festivities, kids enjoy holiday refreshments, Christmas craft projects (like decorating pine cones, photo right), a magic show, and a number of small gifts supplied by the Brethren and friends. The event is capped by the arrival of Santa and the delivery of gifts to each child.

M.O.O.O. Serves Up Christmas In Iowa

M.O.O.O. volunteers pack holiday meals for home 
delivery to shut-ins in Iowa.

In 1982, the Masonic Bodies of Ottumwa, Iowa, formed the Masonic Organizations Of Ottumwa (M.O.O.O.) to prepare and provide free meals on Christmas Day to those who were alone during the holiday. Many volunteers, using their own vehicles, delivered meals to shut-ins. The first year, about 125 came to the Masonic Temple in Ottumwa to enjoy a delicious meal, listen to Christmas music, and enjoy fellowship. Volunteers delivered another 125 meals, and free transportation was provided to the Temple. Over the past 15 years, the numbers have changed considerably. More than 1,100 meals are served each year! Of that number, about 600 are home deliveries. Christmas Day 1997 saw over 500 served at the Temple and 600 meals delivered. There were 28 vehicles with drivers, and each had an assistant. All meals to be delivered were out of the Temple by 11:30 a.m., and at 11:00, a full holiday dinner was served in the Temple.

This is not just a Masonic, but also a community effort. Many merchants help by providing products and foods. In the preparation the day before and on Christmas Day, more than 100 volunteers participate, Masons and non-Masons alike. What really makes one feel good is to see young children come with their parents to help, even though it means leaving their new toys for a few hours to assist someone less fortunate than themselves. Many people in Ottumwa area have already said, "Plan on me helping on your Christmas Day Dinner this year!" 

Holiday Gift Computes For Eight-Year-Old

Christmas came a day early last year in the Hart household. On Wednesday, 8-year-old Jaison Hart, who has very limited verbal skills, received a gift of a talking computer that will help him communicate at home and at school. The gift came from the Denver, Colorado, Scottish Rite Consistory after a request from the Brethren of Loveland, Colorado, Masonic Lodge No. 53 who are also members of the Denver Consistory.

"Having a child with big challenges, sometimes you feel all alone in the world," said Jaison’s mother, Sharon Hart. "It doesn’t feel like that today, and it won’t feel that way again."

Jaison’s condition, apraxia, means that messages from his brain are not delivered clearly to the muscles, so sign language is not a viable option to communicate. But just because he cannot communicate verbally, doesn’t mean he does not have the ability to learn. The youngster is in second grade at Stansberry Elementary School, and, especially with computers, Jaison is able to show he is a bright kid. He appeared delighted (photo above) as he sat on the living room couch playing with his new computer while Sharon and her husband, Trevor, looked on.

Before, when Jaison wanted to communicate with someone, he had to point to pictures on a group of flashcards. Those well-worn cards are helpful but limiting. The portable computer provides a much larger vocabulary and will allow Jaison to convey more complex thoughts.

Jaison has used a similar, non-portable system at school and has been able to create four-word sentences, but that, too, has limits. "In school he can only use it in a sit-down lesson," Sharon explained. "With it, he will be able to communicate his needs, and without it he’s lost. My sense is he will be able to communicate with the new portable computer wherever he is, not have temper tantrums, and not be locked inside himself."

After learning about the portable computer, called a "DynaMyte," Sharon wrote to the Loveland Lodge Masons to see if they could help purchase it. Because the computer, a $6,000 piece of equipment, was so expensive, the local group passed the request along to the Denver Consistory, which consists of about 6,000 members from along the Front Range.

Ill. Richard W. (Dick) Spangler, 33°, who, as Almoner, oversees charitable activities for the Consistory, arranged to get the computer saying "This is the thing Jaison wanted for Christmas, and we wanted to make sure he got it." Bro. Edward E. (Ed) Chappell, 32°, who received Sharon’s request, was at the Hart home on Wednesday to present the computer. "It’s something they’ve been looking forward to," he said, and "I think it will be nice for them."

Bro. David J. (D.J.) Cox, 32°, said he was happy to help get the computer in Jaison’s hands. "You have no idea how much this means to me," Cox said. "To come into someplace and be a part of something like this and help a child have a useful and fruitful life is truly a gift. This is a Christmas present for us."

Reprinted, with full names and Masonic ranks added, from the Daily Reporter–Herald, Loveland, Colorado, December 25, 1997, p. 1. Article by Andrew Saur, Staff Writer, and photograph by Laura Page.

Happy Holidays In Iowa

For most people, the holiday season is a special time of joy where, in the words of Brother Irving Berlin, "treetops glisten" and days are "merry and bright." It is a time of joy made for giving thanks, for sharing, and for family. Unfortunately, for the forgotten people—the needy, the homeless, or those without families—the holidays are often a sad time of year when the very happiness of others serves only to heighten their own loneliness and despair. Each year, in a number of Lodges and Scottish Rite Temples across Iowa, Masons take time from their own homes and families to reach out and share with their larger family, the brotherhood of man. In doing so, they help make the holiday season merrier and brighter for many people in their communities. The example set by these Brothers serves as a model to remind us of all of the good that can be done when Brethren practice the lessons Freemasonry teaches.

Every year millions of children around the world anxiously await the arrival of a very special person, Santa Claus. The very mention of his name brings smiles to the faces of youngsters. At the Iowa Masonic Nursing Home, a more senior group also looks forward each year to the arrival of the jolly old elf and Mrs. Claus. For the past 20 years, the members of Early Morning Lodge No. 672 have hosted monthly breakfasts to raise money for worthy causes. One of these causes is assisting Santa and Mrs. Claus in providing and presenting candy and fruit baskets to each resident of the Iowa Masonic Nursing Home. 

Each year the Brethren meet to prepare the holiday baskets and wrap special gifts for Alzheimer’s residents. The many thank-yous received indicate the extent to which the gifts and visits are appreciated.


For several years, thanks to the joint efforts of the Council Bluffs Masonic Bodies, the local police organization and the Order of the Eagles, Christmas has been brighter for needy area families and their children. Each of over 60 families chosen is provided with a food basket, and each child receives a huge coloring book, crayons, mittens, and a teddy bear or other age-appropriate toy. The Masonic Bodies provide the funds, mittens, and teddy bears. 

In 1997, the Eagles also adopted the project, providing toys and extra money. The local "no frills" supermarket provides the food items for the basket at a very reasonable price and serves free coffee and rolls on the morning of delivery day.


On December 9, the members of Onyx Lodge No. 419 invited a very important part of their Masonic family, the Masonic widows, to the Temple to share in dinner and fellowship. Each of the ladies received a special invitation and was taxied to and from the event by a Brother. In addition to sharing in the oyster stew and homemade chili dinner, each of the ladies attending received a fruit plate, and the same gift was delivered, with a friendly visit, to those unable to attend. 

The Brethren of Helion Lodge No. 36 have adopted a similar program. For the past several holiday seasons, they have delivered a number of fruit baskets to Masonic widows and to many residents of care facilities, including the Jackson County Public Hospital.


One of the finest and most appreciated traditions in the Carroll area is the annual Christmas dinner. For the past several years, the members of Signet Lodge No. 264 have opened the doors of their Temple and welcomed community members into their Masonic home for a delicious free holiday dinner. In 1997, nearly 300 meals were served, and not even those who were unable to venture outdoors were forgotten as 85 meals were delivered to people’s homes. This project, which was begun by the Elks in 1988, is a labor of love for the members of the Lodge and provides an example of the good that can result from cooperative efforts. Four area businesses—HyVee, Fareway, Food 4 Less, and Farner-Bocken—and 90 volunteers aided the project while members of Boy Scout Troop 105 parked cars and helped people into the building. Dressed in garb reminiscent of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, Signet Lodge Secretary Richard D. Hapgood, 32°, Sioux City, Iowa, Scottish Rite, welcomed each visitor and, on behalf of the Brethren, wished them the very best of the holiday season.

Special Holiday Sale Of Souvenir Biennial Session Medallions

A three-page hardcover album with a complete collection of 15 Biennial Session Souvenir Medallions, 1960–1997, is now available at a special price, $75.00 (normally $150.00), until the end of the year. Also, individual medallions, 1969 through 1997, are available for $3 each or four for $10; mounted in Lucite® (1991, 93, 95, 97) are $6 each or all four for $20. Send checks (domestic only) payable to the Supreme Council or call/send VISA and MasterCard information only (202–232–3579, ext. 34 or 36; $25.00 minimum charge) to: The Supreme Council, 1733 16th St., NW, Washington, DC 20009-3103. 

Everything But Reindeer

A large sleigh, festively wrapped presents, a bright Christmas tree, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a holiday meal—everything was there, except reindeer, for the annual winter holiday party hosted by Mascot Lodge No. 738, Mascot, Tennessee, on December 20, 1997. As Bro. William R. Russell, 32°, editor of the Lodge’s Trestleboard noted at the time, "We are not a large Lodge, but that does not keep us from making an extended effort to live up to our responsibilities as Masons. We believe in charity and do our best to help others." 

Part of that help is an annual Christmas party where, with the assistance of the members of Eastern Star Chapter No. 348, Mascot Lodge members provide holiday cheer with all the trimmings to local children, 63 in 1997. Bro. Russell (pictured above to the right) was honored to welcome the then Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Tennessee, M.W. John L. Palmer, 32°, K.C.C.H., and his wife, Glenda, to the festive event.

Clinic Holiday Party In Cheyenne, Wyoming

Santa Claus arrived at the Masonic Temple in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on December 5 last year, as he will this holiday season, to the joy of about 60 children, most of whom were clinic students. In all, there were 170 people gathered in the Temple dining room for the annual Scottish Rite Childhood Language Clinic Holiday Party. 

Clinic students were presented Certificates of Participation by Carole Martin, Chief Clinician; Ill. Jack Nixson, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Wyoming; and three graduate clinicians from the University of Wyoming. The graduate clinicians were presented with Certificates of Appreciation from the Scottish Rite Masons of Wyoming for their hard work at the clinic during the last semester. They were also presented a stipend to assist with their expenses. 

The Shrine Clowns, Frontiersman, and Indians were present to entertain the kids, and refreshments, in part provided by the Consistory Honor Men and their wives, consisted of cookies, punch, and ice cream. 

Those attending the party (and some who could not) brought a gift for the kids, which Santa passed out with the help of several Jobies who served as Santa’s helpers. Of course, all children got to sit on Santa’s lap, and everyone involved with the event had a great time!

Brother Vern S. Wertz, 32°, K.C.C.H., Appointed Executive And Administrative Officer In Oregon

Effective October 15, 1998, upon the retirement of Ill. David O. Johnson, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Oregon, Sovereign Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°, appointed Bro. Vern S. Wertz, 32°, K.C.C.H., as Executive and Administrative Officer in Charge, Orient of Oregon Attached to Orient of California. This appointment is pursuant to ARTICLE II, Section 3, of the Statutes of the Supreme Council.

Brother Wertz was raised a Master Mason by his father in Donald Lodge No. 166, now Canby–Donald No. 27, Canby, Oregon, on May 25, 1957, and served his Mother Lodge as Master in 1967, 1983, and 1990. He was also Master of Ainsworth Lodge No. 201, Salem, Oregon, in 1993. In addition, he is a Life Member of Holbrook Lodge No. 30, Forest Grove, Oregon; a member of Glacier Lodge No. 10, Anchorage, Alaska; and the Southern California Lodge of Research. His Grand Lodge service began in June of 1984 when he was appointed a District Deputy. Brother Wertz served for three years and was then appointed Senior Grand Steward in 1987 and, again, in 1991. As Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Oregon, 1996–97, he was instrumental in designing and implementing "Torchlight," a Grand Lodge Instruction Program in Protocol and Code for all Masons. This led to the development of "Charges" to instruct and motivate new officers. As Grand Master, M.W. Wertz also introduced the "Friend to Friend Program" to Oregon with very affirmative results.

On May 27, 1982, Brother Wertz became a Master of the Royal Secret in the Valley of Salem, Oregon, and he received the Rank and Decoration of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in October 1997, for being "a visionary leader, giving unfettered support to the Rite." Brother Wertz is a contributing author to the Scottish Rite Journal and is also active in a number of Masonic organizations, including the following: Willamette River Lodge No. 3, Royal Arch Mariners; Oregon Preceptory, DeMolay Legion of Honor; Silver Falls Council No. 199, Past Sovereign Master, Allied Masonic Degrees; Cherry Court No. 19, Past Royal Patron, Order of Amaranth; Multnomah Chapter No. 1, Past Illustrious Master, Cryptic Masons; DeMolay Commandery No. 5, Past Eminent Commander, Knights Templar; Oregon Priory No. 37, Knight York Cross of Honor; Venus Chapter No. 19, Past Worthy Patron, Order of Eastern Star; Evergreen Chapter No. 41, O.E.S.; Grottoes of North America; Shrine of North America; Royal Order of Scotland; National Sojourners, Inc., Honorary Member; St. Laurance Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine; and The Philalethes Society.

Born on October 2, 1933, on the Wertz family homestead known as Goshen Hole, near Lingle, Wyoming, Brother Wertz was the fifth and last in a family of five boys. He moved to Oregon in 1936, was educated in the public school system, and received both B.S. and M.S. degrees from Oregon State University. He went on to teach for 32 years in the public schools of Oregon, retiring in October 1988. Active in many educational organizations, Brother Wertz served as President of the Myrtle Point and Salem, Oregon, Teachers’ Associations. In 1965, the Jaycees of Myrtle Point honored Brother Wertz by naming him Citizen of the Year for his work as an educator and Scouting leader.

Next to Freemasonry and education, Brother Wertz’s main interest is the Boy Scouts of America. He was an Explorer Advisor and Scoutmaster, has held many District and Council positions in the organization, and was awarded the Silver Beaver in 1971 for distinguished service to boyhood.

Given his past record of high accomplishment in public school education, Freemasonry and the Boy Scouts of America, Brother Vern S. Wertz is clearly an outstanding choice to head the Scottish Rite in the Orient of Oregon. 

King Kalakaua's Sword

On November 13, 1997, the Scottish Rite sword and jewel of His Majesty King David Kalakaua, 33°, G.C., returned to Hawaii.

His Majesty, like many other members of the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Hawaii, was a distinguished Freemason and Scottish Rite Mason. The King was born in Hawaii on November 16, 1836, ascended the throne in 1874, and died in San Francisco on January 20, 1891. He was a man of many talents and a distinguished musician who gave his nation its anthem, now the official song of the State of Hawaii. He was a very cultivated and skilled diplomat who represented his country ably in the United States, Europe, and the Orient. He was principally responsible for preserving Hawaiian culture and tradition.

King Kalakaua was raised a Master Mason on July 20, 1859, in Lodge Le Progres de l’Oceanie and became a Master of his Lodge in 1876. He became a 32° Scottish Rite Mason as a Charter Member of the Honolulu Scottish Rite Bodies and was coroneted a 33° Scottish Rite Mason on August 14, 1878. He received the Grand Cross of Honor from the Supreme Council, S.J., USA, on October 21, 1881.

A treasured possession of the King was his Scottish Rite sword, which in itself is a worthy work of art. It is chased and engraved with his name and rank as King and as a Scottish Rite Mason. It has an ivory handle, one side bearing the King’s cypher and the other bearing the Scottish Rite double-headed eagle.

The sword is housed in a decorated scabbard of brass and velvet, and the whole rests in a specially made case of koa (a treasured hardwood of Hawaii) and bevelled glass, with a silver triangle, engraved with the King’s Masonic history. His jewel as a 33° Scottish Rite Mason accompanied the sword on its return journey to Hawaii.

Ill. John D. Melius, 33°, first called to the attention of the Orient of Hawaii the existence of the sword and jewel among many artifacts housed in Washington, D.C., at the House of the Temple. Through the generosity of the Sovereign Grand Commander, Ill. C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33°, and the Supreme Council, the Orient of Hawaii was informed that the sword and jewel might be returned to Hawaii and made a permanent loan from the Supreme Council if a suitable place for their public display could be found. This offer was accepted with enthusiasm. Arrangements were made by Ill. A. James Wriston, 33°, as Deputy of the Supreme Council for the Orient of Hawaii, with Ill. Gene Sizemore, 33°, Grand Cross, the Grand Executive Director of The Supreme Council. With the invaluable help of the then Grand Master of Hawaii, Most Worshipful Stuart M. Cowan, 32°, K.C.C.H., a meeting was arranged with Hawaii’s Junior Senator, Hon. Daniel Akaka, at which the Sovereign Grand Commander made a symbolic presentation of the sword and jewel. Senator Akaka then made special arrangements with the Federal Aviation Agency for the sword to travel in the cockpit of a Continental Airlines flight to Hawaii for delivery to Deputy Wriston who, accompanied by Most Worshipful Stuart M. Cowan, 32°, K.C.C.H., and the Secretary of the Honolulu Scottish Rite Bodies, Ill. William ("Pete") Holsomback, 33°, met the flight and received the sword, jewel, and case, taking them into custody for presentation the following day.

On November 14, 1997, a ceremony was held under the auspices of the Grand Lodge of Hawaii, marking the 161st anniversary of the birth of King David Kalakaua. The ceremony was held at the King David Kalakaua Park in Waikiki where a statue of the King stands. Deputy Wriston made a symbolic presentation of the sword and jewel to David Kawananakoa, a great grandson of Prince David Kawananakoa, who was placed by King David Kalakaua in the line of succession to the throne of Hawaii. Immediately following the very moving ceremony in Waikiki, the sword, jewel, and case were conveyed to Iolani Palace, through the courtesy of Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa, a granddaughter of Prince David Kawananakoa and until very recently the President of the Friends of Iolani Palace, the charitable corporation through whose efforts Iolani Palace was restored. There, Deputy Wriston presented the sword, jewel, and case to the Friends of Iolani Palace as a permanent loan from the Supreme Council. The sword, jewel, and case will be prominently displayed at Iolani Palace where all may view them.

The story of the sword, jewel, and case continues to unfold. It is known that they were for many years in the House of the Temple at Washington, D.C., apparently a presentation to the Supreme Council by the Honolulu Scottish Rite Bodies. These items were bequeathed by the King at his death to Prince David Kawananakoa and were among a number of articles belonging to the Prince which were auctioned upon the Prince’s death in 1908, purchased by a Scottish Rite Mason, and given by him or his son-in-law to the Honolulu Scottish Rite Bodies. The Friends of Iolani Palace will continue to research this story so that all may be discovered concerning the history of these priceless artifacts and made a part of the record maintained by the Friends of Iolani Palace. What is certain is that, after a stay of many years’ duration in Washington, D.C., the King’s Scottish Rite sword and jewel have returned to Hawaii for appropriate public display in the palace the King built and where he lived and reigned. 

Louisiana Scottish Rite Trestleboard Launched

Illustrious Ronald A. Seale, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Louisiana, wanted a statewide Scottish Rite publication that would reach every Rite member so the Brethren will be kept informed of activities in each of the five Valleys. Through this medium, the S.G.I.G. could reach the members directly. Scholarly articles, thought-provoking essays, and Masonic happenings—local, national and global—could be shared and the involvement of Valley members in publication increased.

Commencing in January 1999, Louisiana Rite members will receive The Louisiana Scottish Rite Trestleboard. Six issue per year are planned for the first year. Each issue will consist of 16 pages, seven to eight pages per issue devoted to articles on Masonry, and the rest of the space dedicated to each Valley’s activities and messages from Valley officers. Through financial contributions from supporters of the Rite, the annual cost of this publication will be reduced considerably.

Ill. Seale has picked Bro. Naresh Sharma, 32°, K.C.C.H., to be the Editor of this new state-wide Scottish Rite magazine. Bro. Sharma has been the Editor of the Valley of Baton Rouge’s monthly Trestleboard since 1990. 

Catch The Spirit Of Virginia Rainbow

The Grand Assembly of Virginia, International Order of the Rainbow for Girls (IORG), held its annual Grand Assembly Session on July 2–4, 1998, at Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, Virginia. It was a weekend full of enthusiasm as all present celebrated the 75th anniversary of the International Order of Rainbow and the 5th Anniversary of Virginia Rainbow. Distinguished representatives from many Masonic organizations were present to share the festivities. Among them were leaders from the Grand Lodge of Virginia, Eastern Star, Amaranth, and DeMolay. Activities included a Mexican mixer, complete with Mexican food and a piñata, a formal opening and closing with appropriate introductions and addresses, a memorial service, and a grand banquet featuring a Diamond Anniversary cake (photo above) cut by (l. to r.): Mrs. Susan Rennagel, Supreme Deputy in Virginia; Miss Angela Marie Newcomer, Grand Worthy Advisor in Virginia; Mrs. Linda Freemann, Supreme Worthy Advisor, IORG; Mrs. Pauline Stonehocker, Supreme Faith, IORG; and Mrs. Dedra Hart, Supreme Deputy IORG in South Carolina. The gala event concluded with the installation of officers for the 1998–1999 Grand Year. Miss Janae Fraer was installed as Grand Worthy Advisor in Virginia, and her theme is "Live the Promise for Tomorrow."

Submitted by Angela Marie Newcomer
Junior Past Grand Worthy Advisor in Virginia

The Ill. Robert L. Goldsmith, 33°, Public Relations Trophy

The Ill. Robert L. Goldsmith, 33°, Public Relations Trophy was awarded to the Scottish Rite Bodies of Pensacola, Florida, on the occasion of the Orient of Florida’s annual Council of 400 meeting on August 8, 1998. The Valley of Jacksonville was a close runner-up in the competition. Established by Ill. Goldsmith, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Florida, the trophy is awarded annually to the Florida Valley with the most outstanding Public Relations Program throughout the year. The winner is selected by the S.G.I.G. or his appointed judges. Judging is based on the several following criteria:
Ill. Robert L. Goldsmith, 33°, S.G.I.G. in Florida, presents Florida’s Public Relations Trophy for 1998 to Brethren of the winning Valley, the Pensacola Scottish Rite Bodies. Pictured (l. to r.) are: Bro. Charles E. Green, 32°, K.C.C.H., Director for the Pensacola Valley; Ill. Jack H. Dasinger, 33°, General Secretary; Ill. Goldsmith; and Ill. James H. Holland, 33°, Personal Representative in Pensacola.

External Public Relations

• News releases generated by the Valley (TV, radio, newspaper, other)
• New items appearing in printed media. (Newspaper, S.R. Journal, other)
• Valley communiques
• Blue Lodge Ambassador Programs
• Participation in community affairs (telethons and other charity fund-raising; community work projects; Americanism programs; in-house parties for children and other groups)

Internal Public Relations

• News Bulletins
• Scottish Rite Women’s activities
• Membership Programs (Entertainment, education, etc. at regular meetings, luncheons, dinners, etc.)
• Membership Appreciation and Awards Programs (certificates, plaques, and other recognitions)

Each Valley prepares a scrapbook depicting its annual activities as described above and submits it to the judging authority by June 30th of each year with a cover sheet containing: name of Public Relations Director, name of newsletter Editor, members of Public Relations Council, name of Chairman of the Blue Lodge Ambassador Corps, and a list of Scottish Rite Valley memberships in local business, civic, church, and community groups. 

Ill. Gene Autry, 33°, G.C. 1907–1998

At age 91, on October 2, 1998, America’s first world-famous singing cowboy, Ill. Gene Autry, 33°, G.C., died in his Los Angeles home after a long illness. Ill. Autry was born in Tioga, Texas, on September 29, 1907, and had his first singing experiences in a church choir and, after high school, in a traveling medicine show. Bro. Will Rogers, 32°, heard him and advised Gene to sing on radio. He packed his $5 Sears & Roebuck guitar and used a railroad pass to get to New York City and break into big-time show business. By the early 1930s, he was a singing and film star with initial hits like "Blue Yodel No. 5" and films like "In Old Santa Fe." Radio, film, stage, and television success continued through the 1940s and ’50s. In all, he cut 639 records, including "Back in the Saddle Again" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and made 94 films such as "Cowboy Serenade" and "Winning the West." His heartfelt lyrics and morally centered movies touched millions and made him among the wealthiest men in America.

In World War II, he enlisted in the Air Force and flew missions to the Far East and North America. After the war, Ill. Autry expanded from entertainment to business interests, including radio and television stations, real estate, financial services, and hotel franchises. Then, in 1961 when the American League expanded, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by becoming the owner of the California Angels baseball team. Described by President Reagan as a "good and caring citizen," Ill. Autry also devoted much of his time and wealth to philanthropic and civic interests.

Made a Master Mason in Catoosa Lodge No. 185, Catoosa, Oklahoma, on August 29, 1929, Bro. Autry supported Masonry throughout his career, became a Life Member of his Home Lodge, and was raised a 32° Scottish Rite Mason in the Valley of Long Beach, California, in 1938. During a 1990 interview with Business Journal, he noted his phenomenal success in life was due in great measure to the moral teachings of Freemasonry, and he stated, "The world would be a better place if all men were Masons!" In recognition of his service to America and the Craft, he was honored as a K.C.C.H. in 1979, 33° in 1983, and Grand Cross in 1989. The Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum in Los Angeles will keep alive Ill. Gene’s life accomplishments for generations to come, and his example as a Brother will remain fresh in the hearts of Freemasons forever.