A fond farewell
Brother Stephen T. McGuire
Most Worshipful Past Grand Master
Well, here’s the column you’ve all been waiting for, my final one!
No more reading my words of wisdom concerning Freemasonry, family, friends, brotherhood, and life in general. Though every M∴ W∴Brother who has ever written this column has alluded to it, I have to admit, “the years have flown by”! I’ll try to keep this brief but there are a few recent events I want to acknowledge.
As I have mentioned in past columns, Maureen visited every lodge but three during our travels through the districts in this Grand Jurisdiction. She was able to accompany me to the annual meetings of Mt. Moriah and St. Albans’ lodges earlier this year. That left St. Paul’s Lodge as the only lodge she hadn’t attended. R∴W∴Bob Ellston and W∴Charles O’Hara came to my rescue and invited us to R∴W∴Bob’s visitation to St. Paul’s on May 2nd. We were treated to a wonderful Italian meal, the unveiling of a beautiful Masonic mural, and an outstanding program describing how members of the East Bay community are working to help families in need. We also viewed an old portrait of a Past Master W∴William H. Cotton that had recently been restored to near-new condition. Many thanks to the District Deputy for sharing his visitation as well as the Master of St. Paul’s Lodge and all of the Masters and brethren of the East Bay District. You helped us meet an important goal.
R∴W∴Rick Lynch is probably carving my name into a bullet as I type this because it is so late but it seemed important to include the events of May 5th in this issue of the Freemason. On that date the cornerstone for the Rhode Island Veterans’ Home was symbolically laid by the Rhode Island Freemasons! The stone was laid using the ample and ancient ritual used in such ceremonies as the laying of the cornerstones for the United States Capital and the Rhode Island State House. The operative implements used in this ceremony were made by Gorham Manufacturing specifically for the cornerstone ceremony at the State House in 1896. The ceremony was attended by Governor Raimondo, all four of Rhode Islands’ Congressional Representatives, the Federal Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs and numerous state representatives. All of them commented on the moving ceremony conducted by the Freemasons. R∴W∴Rick Baccus, the Director of the Rhode Island Veterans’ Home (and our newest District Deputy) worked extremely hard organizing this very special event and we are grateful to him for including us. Thank you, R∴W∴Rick!
I do want to make a brief mention of the fraternal visit paid to Rhode Island by the immediate Past Grand Master of Israel, M∴W∴Avi Baranes and his wonderful lady, Osnat. As you know, St. Johns No. 1 Providence hosts the final visitation for a District Deputy before he advances to the Grand South. M∴W∴Baranes was the guest speaker at R∴W∴Gary Kaufman’s final visitation and he did a wonderful job. The lodge meeting was incredible, 14 of our 22 living Past Grand Masters were in attendance. During their visit I also was able to join them for lunch and accompany them on a tour of both our Grand Lodge and that of Massachusetts. They are both wonderful people who kept repeating how much they loved Rhode Island and the people (especially Masons) they met during their stay. Thank you to R∴W∴Rick Lynch for arranging their visit!
On Saturday, April 22nd, I was honored to have a testimonial dinner held on my behalf. I’m not so sure I deserved this but I understand it’s traditional to have one for a soon to be Past Grand Master and I am truly grateful to my mother lodge, Mt. Vernon No. 4. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I know how much time, effort and cost are involved in the events. The overwhelming number of brothers and their ladies who took the time out of their busy lives and actually spent money to be with Maureen and me that evening is pretty close to the most humbling experience of my life. The amount of time and effort spent by Bill Dawless and his very capable committee to plan the event and be there to make sure things went right will be remembered for the rest of my life. I can’t express my appreciation for the thought that went into selecting gifts that are so well treasured. Your presence would have been a present enough! Having Maureen, my parents, two of my three sons and one of my two daughters-in-law made the night all the more special. Only time and miles kept my other daughter-in-law and son from being there but I’m sure they were thinking of us just as we were thinking of them. Finally, but by no means least, I especially thank all the brothers of Mt. Vernon Lodge and their ladies! Not only were there a tremendous number of you at the testimonial but you have supported and inspired me this year beyond what I could have hoped or asked for. I am proud to be a member of Mt. Vernon Lodge and look forward to continuing to meet each of you on the level.
In closing, I hope all of you understand what an honor and privilege it has been to serve as the Grand Master of Rhode Island for the past year. We have had so many wonderful times. It is my sincerest wish that you all think I’ve done a good job. Whether you do or not, I can honestly say I’ve tried and I have always had the betterment of Freemasonry in mind through every decision I’ve made. As said earlier, these years have flown by! To put it in perspective, when M∴W∴Richard Sokoll announced me as his appointment in November of 2007, my Golden Retriever (Maggie) was 2 years old, she’d chase a tennis ball until your arm fell off and if we were near the bay or a river – or a puddle for that matter – she had to be sure to get wet. Now, she’s 11 and a half, a half hour walk is more than enough for her and she needs a boost to get into bed or my car. That, to me is incredible! Thank you…..
Sincerely and fraternally,
Stephen T. McGuire