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History of the Valley of Alexandria

Chapter 4

(1961 – 1986)


This period could well be characterized as the most eventful, varied, and significant to occur during the Valley‟s existence. It embodied many challenges, but successes; many advancements, but some drawbacks; many aspirations, but disappointments; and a reach to new heights that led to the start of a downturn in membership.

There were several things from the previous period that lingered on for further consideration and action. One of these had to do with the names of the four Bodies. SGIG Webber had earlier been informed that the membership desired to retain the sentimental and historic names of WASHINGTON, LAFAYETTE, and RANDOLPH. However, on June 8, 1961, a second letter from the SGIG, requesting the change to ALEXANDRIA for each Body, was voted on favorably by the members present.

In an effort to improve (increase) membership, Venerable Master Aubrey E. LaPlace, KCCH, appointed Gordon C. Thomson , KCCH, in November 1961, as Membership Chairman.

Brother Thomson endeavored to set up a committee of active Blue Lodge and Scottish Rite members in each lodge in the extended Northern Virginia area to promote membership in the Scottish Rite. At the end of 1961, Scottish Rite membership had risen to 2,400, and was on a continuing increase each year thereafter.

In another endeavor to raise the amount of dues – which had been unchanged since 1910 -- another proposal was made to raise dues from $5 to $8. At the April 13, 1962 meeting, and after much discussion, the change was approved by a vote of 60 to 7. This was to be effective in January 1963.

A recurring item was presented at the January 11, 1963 meeting. It was a resolution to erect a Scottish Rite Temple on the present property (Braddock Road)! A report on this was made at the December meeting, and is discussed a little later in this history.

At the February 8 meeting revised By-Laws were approved after a detailed discussion of 17 articles. As evidence of that discussion, the Lodge – the only Body meeting that night – closed at 10:45!


The principal change in the By-Laws prohibited one man from serving as the Head of more than one Body in the same year. This had been a point of concern for some time. It was a necessity when the membership was very small and only a limited number of candidates were initiated each year. For example, in 1947 the membership was just over 1,000. Thomas Fately, KCCH, was the Head of three Bodies other than the Lodge of Perfection – which he headed the year before.

It was announced at the April 12 meeting by Harry P. Shaffer, Sr., 33°, that the Valley had been requested by the Supreme Council to conduct the KCCH Investiture at the 1963 Biennial Session in October. A team was formed to do this and, although it was a first time and involved much work to prepare for it, the brethren were honored to have been called on.

Subsequent to the Biennial Session, those present at the November 8 meeting made special recognition that Illustrious David Kruger was the only Alexandrian to receive the 33rd Degree, and gave him a standing applause.

And now – in December – a report by the Building Committee on the proposal made back in January. The Valley was not, then, financially able to construct a Temple costing $500,000, nor in a position to start a fund raising program. A prevailing thought was that there might be a possibility of reducing the size of a building to a $300,000 level. The committee planned to study other Valleys‟ experiences and building plans as well as to seek information from the Supreme Council.


By May of 1964 the Building Committee reported $373,983 in assets including the value of the Braddock Road property, interest earned, and checking account balance. Perhaps as a motivation for further Lodge action, the report also showed that the outlay for renting the North Room and the auditorium at the George Washington Memorial was $2,000 a year.

Mention was made earlier in this history that Patrick Henry Bayliss, 32° had died in 1945. Brother Bayliss‟ Will stated that after the death of his survivors, the residue of his estate was to be placed in a trust to be administered by the Alexandria Scottish Rite Trustees for the purpose of educating children at the Masonic Home of Virginia.

In 1964, approximately $21,000 in stocks, bonds, and cash was turned over to the Trustees. Earnings from these investments have been used each year by the Trustees for the intended purpose. When there were no longer any children at the Home, a 1974 Court Order allowed the Trustees to fund scholarships as recommended by the Grand Lodge of Virginia.


Since 1974, after the Grand Lodge selects its scholarship recipients, the remaining applications are forwarded to the Trustees for evaluation and consideration of granting scholarships. Through 2010, experience of the Trustees has resulted in yearly grants of $500 to 10 to 15 applicants – depending on funds available from investment earnings.As a fitting gesture to two long-time servants of the Valley – Bennie Edwards, Treasurer, and Tom Fately, Secretary – David Kruger, 33°, on February 12, 1965 made a motion that the Valley purchase a 330 jewel for each one and for these to be passed on to their successors in office if they should also be 33° members. The motion was carried.

By February of 1966, there was an increasing expression among the members about a “new Temple.” To help provide more funds for this purpose, it was decided by the Lodge members that $50 of each petitioner‟s fee would be placed in the Building and Equipment Fund.

In September of 1966, the Building Committee described how they had obtained plans of the Roanoke Temple which was built eight years earlier. The committee planned to use these as a basis for obtaining estimates for a building at the Braddock Road site.

At that same meeting it was noted that Orville F. Rush, 32° had been elected as the Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America for the ensuing year. At the Biennial Session of the Supreme Council in 1967, Brother Rush was elected and received the honor of 33° Inspector General Honorary.

In April 1967, the Building Committee was authorized to spend up to $2,500 from the Building and Equipment Fund for the drawing of plans for a building. When the year ended, this Fund had assets of $444,087. The prevailing thought was to see if the original architect could revamp the first plans to a cost level of $500,000. Then, the Valley would only have to borrow $100,000, or maybe the membership of over 2,700 could donate this amount.


At the suggestion of SGIG Webber, a resolution was made to increase the annual dues from $8 to $12. He pointed out that Alexandria‟s dues were the lowest in the state. The resolution was passed 57 to 22 on September 8, 1967.


By mid-1968, Charles L. Eisenman, 33° was able to report that building plans had been submitted to, and approved by, SGIG Webber. The SGIG considered the cost level as not much above the Valley‟s existing holdings. He also said that this was the time to start fund raising efforts.

A September resolution by Illustrious Josiah Everly called for approval of the design and layout of the proposed Temple and the total membership solicited for a commitment of contributions – before the Architect would be given the order to proceed. (The estimated cost was $700,000, leaving $200,000 above present resources. The balance would have to be made up by a loan or by contributions, or both.)


The key event in this decades-long adventurous effort about a “new Temple” occurred at the October 11, 1968 meeting. The resolution to proceed with the building was brought up for action. A lengthy and somewhat heated discussion took place. [I remember because I was there!]


Questions ranged from “why not stay where we are?” “Why not locate in a different locality?” “Can we afford to maintain such a building?” The resolution was defended by Illustrious David Kruger and Brother Stewart White, 32°. A written ballot was taken; the result showed 56 in favor of proceeding and 16 opposed. EUREKA? Yes, at last!

In May of 1969, Illustrious Brother Eisenman of the Building Committee reported that the low bid for the new Temple was $692,781, and had been accepted. Brother Bruce B. Morris, KCCH reported that $25,000 in contributions had already been pledged, and that half of that amount had been paid to date.


A ground breaking ceremony was held the next month with Illustrious Brother Everly overseeing the program. Earth diggers (with shovels) included Brother Everly as Chairman of the Trustees, Robert B. Balcom, KCCH as Venerable Master, and Mayor of Alexandria Leroy S. Bendheim, 32°. On a clear and warm morning, a crowd of about 50 members and wives were present for this long-awaited and happy event.

Saturday, September 27 was a glorious occasion -- the Cornerstone Laying Ceremony. This ceremony was performed under the auspices of Henry Knox Field Lodge No. 349 of Alexandria. Its regular officers participated in the ritual as prescribed by the Grand Lodge of Virginia except for the following:


Worshipful Master – Charles E. Webber, 33°, SGIG in Virginia
Chaplain – Reverend Benjamin A. Lynt, 32°, Minister, Second Presbyterian Church, Alexandria
Marshal -- Walter S. Downs, 32°, Past Master, Henry Knox Field Lodge


It was held on a beautiful, sunny day with some 200 members, friends, and neighborhood onlookers present. Sovereign Grand Commander Luther A. Smith, 33° was present, and briefly spoke to the assemblage after the ceremony was completed. Kena Shrine assisted with the presentation of the colors and provided music. H. Bruce Green, 32°, Past Grand Master of Masons in Virginia, delivered an excellent Masonic Oration.


The box of heavy copper within the cornerstone was 17 inches long, 14 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. It contained many items of historical interest to the Alexandria Scottish Rite, e.g. copies of the charters of the four Bodies, the 1957 Bulletin which related the early history of the Valley, reunion programs, list of 33° members, pictures and descriptions of Alexandria City Hall, and of the George Washington Memorial, the two places where the Valley previously met.


The silver trowel used by SGIG Webber to spread the cement was provided by courtesy of Alexandria-Washington Lodge No. 22. It was the trowel first used by George Washington in the 1793 cornerstone laying at the United States Capitol Building.


As construction progressed during 1970, fund raising efforts were intensified. Brother Harry W. Bendall, 32° was appointed Chairman of this special committee. Brother Bendall was a Past Potentate of Kena Shrine and a well-known owner of a local automobile agency. The goal was to achieve enough contributions so that a minimum of borrowing – then at 9% -- would be necessary.

Harlan E. Fraley, 32° was appointed the liaison with the contractor to approve work done before invoices would be paid.

With an increasing awareness of the cost to build and maintain the long-sought Temple, dues were increased in September from $12 to $20.

A financial status report was delivered at the October 9 meeting. To date, $655,842 had been paid out, but $92,228 was still owed. An additional $123,228 was needed to complete the building. As of this date, a total of $169,715 had been borrowed.

At the October meeting, long-time Secretary Thomas Fately, 33° submitted his resignation because of poor health. In his honor, Brother Victor Dietze, 32° presented the lodge with a hand-made clock with 17 different types of wood on the face of the clock. The clock would later be hung over the west end of the lodge room. Carleton T. Washburn, KCCH was elected that night as Acting Secretary.

The momentous night occurred on January 8, 1971 when the FIRST MEETING of the Alexandria Scottish Rite was held in its NEW BUILDING! The Register revealed that 172 members and visitors had signed in, but, as usual, not everyone who was present had taken time to sign the Register.

The lodge room was filled with excitement and joy that after 43 years of trials and tribulations, the goal had been reached. Richard W. Venable, KCCH, Venerable Master, had the distinction of holding the last meeting of his term of office, and the first meeting in the new Temple.

Now the anticipation was how large a Class could be attained for the Spring Reunion designated “Dedication Class.” The one-day reunion on April 17 consisted of 265 members! At the July 9 meeting it was announced that members of the Class had donated $15,000 to the Building Fund in support of its need for more funds. On September 11, a Dedication ceremony was held in the auditorium with the Sovereign Grand Commander presiding over the program.


Now the anticipation was how large a Class could be attained for the Spring Reunion designated “Dedication Class.” The one-day reunion on April 17 consisted of 265 members! At the July 9 meeting it was announced that members of the Class had donated $15,000 to the Building Fund in support of its need for more funds. On September 11, a Dedication ceremony was held in the auditorium with the Sovereign Grand Commander presiding over the program.

Illustrious Josiah S. Everly announced at the November 12, 1971 meeting that the contractor had been paid in full. He asked for members‟ help to pay off the $125,000 debt remaining on the building, and concluded by saying “the Building Committee has fulfilled its job and should be discharged.”

As a further means of raising funds to help meet outstanding indebtedness, a program was designed to “sell” auditorium seats. A $35 contribution would “buy” one seat with a nameplate placed on it. Three seats could be obtained for $100. Also for a $100 contribution, a name plate would be placed on a plaque in the main lobby. This plan unofficially stopped in late 1973 as large classes and little maintenance costs put the Valley in a good financial posture. This will be discussed again in late 1983.


A generous gift for the benefit of members in the new building was made on January 14, 1972 by Jason W. Snyder, 32° on behalf of Martha Washington Chapter No. 42, Order of the Eastern Star. It was a check for $1,067 for the purchase of a conference table and 12 chairs for the planned conference room. These have continued to be used on a limited basis and with care into 2011.


A new development about Scottish Rite property was disclosed by Illustrious Josiah S. Everly at the February 11 meeting. He told of the property directly behind the Temple consisting of three acres that extended down to King Street. The owner was offered $10,000 by the Executive Committee, and he accepted it. The purchase was approved by the membership. (It proved very valuable to the Valley in the early 1990s, as described in the next Chapter.)


In mid-1972 Everard A. Marseglia, KCCH was planning for the next year when he would presumably become Venerable Master. He spoke to Walter S. Downs, 32° (an active and widely known Blue Lodge Mason) about having the many Blue Lodges in the area come to the Scottish Rite for a program dedicated to Blue Lodge Masonry. Previously the Valley visited many Blue Lodges – upon invitation by the Worshipful Masters – to talk about Scottish Rite and/or confer the Master Mason degree. [This latter practice was discontinued because of Grand Lodge concerns about an Appendant Body conferring the degree.] Brother Downs developed a program in consultation with the lodges, and implemented it in 1973 (details later).


The Valley‟s By-Laws were revised and approved at the November 10, 1972 meeting. The revision accomplished two things:

(1) Deleted the “Executive Council” as the Sovereign Grand Commander had directed be done in all Valleys in the Southern Jurisdiction. The intent was to return the government of the Valley to its presiding Masters.

(2) Prohibited a member from serving as a progressive line officer in more than one Body at the same time. The intent of this had been obvious for several years in that it would bring about more openings for more brethren to participate as officers in the four Bodies. (Again, in earlier times with a smaller membership, it was necessary for several men to serve as an officer in two or more Bodies at the same time.)


As 1973 unfolded, a highlight for the period was a joint Alexandria-Washington, DC Maundy Thursday program. Present were: Charles E. Webber, 33°, SGIG in Virginia, Renah F. Camalier, 33°, G.C., Deputy in the District of Columbia, and Henry C. Clausen, 33°, Sovereign Grand Commander, Southern Jurisdiction , with a total attendance of 365.


The first Blue Lodge Visitation Program was held on Saturday, June 30, with Unity Lodge No. 146 of Front Royal as the Host Lodge. Some 170 were served dinner at this initial event. The basic plan of the program was, and is, to invite “x” number of brethren from 41 lodges (which gradually built up to 51 lodges) to attend the event. A free dinner is provided by the Scottish Rite. A “host lodge” holds a Called Communication and one of its candidates receives the MM degree conferred by an all Scottish Rite cast in costumes plus the lecture.


All of this is pre-approved by Dispensation from the Grand Master. Over the years, the program fostered good relationships between Blue Lodges and the Scottish Rite. As a secondary result, many visiting brethren have been favorably impressed, and later became members of the Scottish Rite. Brother Downs arranged the program for 20 years and another six years after other brethren had handled it briefly and resigned.


Also in June, Scottish Rite sponsorship of the George Washington Chapter of DeMolay was transferred to Columbia Lodge No. 285 which requested it since the Chapter had met in that lodge for several years.


Very useful and lasting additions for the Temple were presented by the Washington, DC Scottish Rite on March 8, 1974. These were three sizable, sturdy, dark oak chairs with red leather seats and backs. These three chairs have been placed at the center of the stage in front of the gold curtain. The presentation was made by Renah F. Camalier, 33° G.C., Deputy in the District of Columbia.


After the meeting on September 13, everyone assembled in the auditorium for the Feast of Tishri program conducted by Illustrious David Kruger. This was the first time the program was open for ladies‟ attendance, and was continued each year thereafter. On many occasions, this program was attended by a full auditorium of 400 attendees.

On November 8, Roy T. Mitchell, KCCH was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the late Werner C. Strecker, 33° as Almoner. Roy held this office for the next 33 years until just before his death in 2007.


The year 1975 started with good news: the mortgage was burned! And, only a $30,000 note remained to be paid! Continued good news was the 150 member Spring Reunion named in memory of Thomas Fately, 33°, long-time Secretary of the Valley.


Another success this year was Alexandria‟s hosting of the statewide Scottish Rite Council in October with David Kruger, 33° serving as President. This weekend session was held at Stouffers in Crystal City, Arlington. In addition to the valuable exchange of information among representatives of all eight Valleys, attendance at the two banquets was overflowing. More than 600 were present on Saturday night when Virginia Governor Mills Godwin was the Speaker. Joining him at the head table were Lieutenant Governor John N. Dalton and U. S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr.


The final days of 1975, however, brought about sadness because of the sudden death of Secretary Carleton T. Washburn who had been coroneted a 33° just two months earlier. At the January 1976 meeting Winston W. Watts, 32° was designated Secretary Pro Tem, and then elected to the office in February.


At the February 13 meeting, Illustrious Brother David Kruger announced the establishment of the “Charles and Polly Webber American History Fund” at George Mason University. As contributions to the Fund‟s corpus increased, it enabled two scholarships to be granted annually – one to an Undergraduate and one to a Graduate student majoring in American History. It was agreed that the Scottish Rite would contribute $1,000 annually to help the Fund grow. Individual contributions were also solicited.


The Blue Lodge Visitation Program, held on July 28, was a very successful event. Walter S. Downs, KCCH reported that 325 were present including 33 Worshipful Masters.


Moving into the February 11, 1977 meeting, Illustrious Brother Kruger recommended that consideration be given to electing officers of all four Bodies in the same month. This was a prelude to action taken a year later.


The 1977 Spring Reunion included among its candidates three generations of one family:

Father – Charles A. Cornnell (long-time Secretary of A-W Lodge No. 22)
Son -- John J. Cornnell, Sr.
Grandson – John J. Cornnell, Jr.


At the August 20 Blue Lodge Visitation a capacity crowd of 355 was present for dinner. Attendance included 25 Worshipful Masters.

At the final meeting of the year in December, Alexandria, like the seven other Valleys in the state, contributed $125 to the Grand Lodge of Virginia to help it meet expenses for its 200th anniversary to be observed in February of 1978.

When 1977 closed, the membership had reached 3,425.

Two significant additions were made to the building in 1978. In April, construction of the library with shelves in glass door cabinets and new wall paneling was completed. Members were asked to donate books for this new addition to the Temple.

The second item was the installation of a burglar security alarm system throughout the building. This was considered a necessity following a break-in the month before and the loss of several property items.


To start the first meeting in January 1979, Illustrious Brother Kruger suggested we consider forming a “Scottish Rite Club” in the Winchester area. There were many members living in that area, and a club would provide a greater tie-in between them and the Valley in Alexandria. (Other Valleys with clubs had found them to be very beneficial.)


By June, 50 members in the Winchester area met with Glen S. Faxon, 33° and Odie R. Howell, Jr., KCCH, along with C. Kenneth Lamp, 32° (of Winchester) to discuss the ramifications of starting a club. As a result, the brethren favored the idea. A proposed set of

By-Laws, or charter, was prepared, signed by the Heads of the four Bodies on July 25, 1979, and approved by SGIG Webber on August 17.


At the February 9, 1979 meeting, the lodge approved a measure to reduce petition fees by $50 for those under the age of 31. This recognized the potential financial limitations of younger men who would like to belong to the Scottish Rite, but might not be able to pay the full fee. It was also an incentive for men in this age group to join the Scottish Rite.


In March, the four Masters agreed to proceed with the election and installation of officers in January of 1980. The By-Laws were amended to reflect this change. The Lodge of Perfection elections were moved from February to January; the Chapter of Rose Croix and the Council of Kadosh, from May to January; the Consistory remained at December.


Odie Howell, KCCH announced at the March 9 meeting that – for the first time – a group visit would be made to the House of the Temple. This would be primarily for the upcoming Spring Class members and their families, but others would also be welcome to attend. The attending group would meet at the Alexandria Temple on a Saturday and proceed on a chartered bus to the Supreme Council in Washington. This later became an annual visit and was continued through 2008. In 2009 the Supreme Council closed the Temple on Saturdays as a cost saving measure, and would no longer be available for this annual visit.


During 1979, Reynold J. “Dick” Matthews, who would be the next Venerable Master, asked Walter Downs, KCCH if he would be the Installing Officer, and C. A. Sinclair, Jr., 33° to be the Master of Ceremonies at the 1980 Open installation of officers. Both agreed to do so. In September, Brother Downs announced that the first open installation would take place on January 9, 1980, and provided other details.


The 1980 Grand Master of Masons in Virginia, Charles E. Wallace, 32°, visited the Alexandria Valley on March 14. He addressed the group briefly, and expressed his great concern about the loss of Masonic memberships that had been taking place during the past decade.


Venerable Master Matthews planned to form a committee to carry out SGIG Webber‟s wish that the “Benedict Arnold the Traitor” drama be performed. This slowly developed, and the details are discussed later on.


A heart-warming experience took place at the February 1981 meeting. Clair C. Barnes, 32°, one of 52 Americans held hostage in Iran, was warmly greeted, applauded, and seated to the right of the Venerable Master for the duration of the meeting. His response on this occasion was to express the hostages‟ appreciation for the warmth and sincerity of their welcome back home.


Prior to the Spring Reunion, it was noted that the Shenandoah Valley Scottish Rite Club (now two years old) had sponsored a large number of petitions for that Class of 120 candidates.


By October, Brother Matthews had completed the casting for “The Traitor” production. The colonial type uniforms were being obtained at a total cost of $3,500. Long range scheduling for presenting the play was in August of 1982 at the Blue Lodge Visitation Program and in November 1982 as a special presentation during the Grand Lodge Session. Brother Matthews and Cullen Jones, 33° alternated the part of Benedict Arnold; Walter Downs and Charles D. Gray, 32° alternated the part of George Washington. Other presentations were also made later at several different locations including Alexandria in 1983 when the Valley was host for the statewide Scottish Rite Conference weekend.


The year 1981 ended on both low notes and high notes. Josiah S. Everly, 33°, who, during 53 years of service to the Valley, had headed all four Bodies, as well as the Trustees and the Building Committee, announced on December 11 that he would end his services at the end of the year. Similarly, Benjamin D. Edwards, 33°, Treasurer for 40 years, also announced his retirement at the close of 1981. These two brethren were stalwart members of this Valley and had provided over the years a great deal of constructive actions that benefitted the Valley‟s well-being.


The high note of the year occurred, unknowingly, to the membership. Recall the comments of Grand Master Charles E. Wallace at the March 14 meeting when he bemoaned the heavy Blue Lodge membership losses during the 1970s? Other Masonic Bodies were also experiencing membership losses. Fewer Masons, of course, meant fewer inputs into Appendant Bodies.


The Alexandria Scottish Rite‟s membership continued to climb throughout the 1970s due to a continuing, but smaller, input of new members. The total membership of the Southern Jurisdiction peaked in 1979 at 660,928 members; in 1980, it dropped to 659,468; by 1983, the total was down to 648,201.


In Alexandria, the 1981 membership of 3,578 was its highest point; again, unknown to the brethren at that time. By the end of 1982 the membership had slightly decreased to 3,523. Twenty-eight years later (2010) the total membership hovered around 1,900.


Winston W. Watts, 33° resigned as Secretary at the end of the 1982 Masonic year. At the January 1983 meeting, Walter S. Downs, 33° was elected to replace Brother Watts.


Prior to the 1983 Blue Lodge Visitation Program, Chairman Downs announced that there were now 51 Blue Lodges participating in the program.


The Supreme Council Biennial Session in October 1983 resulted in another honor for the Alexandria Valley. Illustrious Brother David Kruger was appointed “Deputy of the Supreme Council in Virginia.” At the Supreme Council Session two years later, he was elected as the SGIG in Virginia and an Active Member of the Supreme Council. He was only the second member of the Alexandria Scottish Rite to be accorded that honor (the other being Robert S. Barrett, 33° in 1951). Illustrious Brother Kruger served in that office through the year 2002. He also served as the Grand Secretary General from 1989 to the end of 2002.


During his first year as Secretary, Illustrious Brother Downs became aware of the previous plan for “selling” auditorium seats to raise funds. He was also acquainted with the trend toward fewer candidates in reunion classes, inflation, and the increasing need for maintenance and its costs. After getting approval of the Trustees, he reinstated the plan through continual publicity in the Valley‟s Bulletins. At the time, 291 of the 400 auditorium seats were available for purchase.


The same basis as before was used -- $35 per seat, 3 for $100, and $100 for a nameplate in the lobby. A purchase of 32 seats by a single group was made by the living 33° members. These were the 32 seats on the two sides of the stage floor.


At the end of December 1987 (four years after restarting this effort), the 291 available seats had been sold and 65 names added to the lobby plaques. Over $17,000 had been raised for the Building Fund. A further and permanent step was taken in 1985 by adding a line to the annual dues statement which allowed members to include a Building Fund contribution, if desired, with their dues payments. By the end of 2009, total contributions since 1983 had reached $167,991.


A letter from the then Deputy Kruger was read at the January 13, 1984 meeting. It designated Illustrious Walter S. Downs, 33° as his “Chairman of the Advisory Committee,” a title later changed by the Supreme Council to “Personal Representative.”


The four Orients of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia had routinely rotated the hosting and conferring of honors bestowed every other year by the Supreme Council. In 1985 it was Virginia‟s “turn,” and more particularly, Illustrious Brother Kruger designated his home Valley to do the job! Rehearsals of both the KCCH and 33rd degree were begun in late 1984. Team leaders were “Dick” Matthews for the KCCH group, and Illustrious Odie Howell for the 33rds.

This was a FIRST for everyone in both groups, but both casts performed exceptionally well on November 9, 1985. Further inspiration was the setting of the event as it was held in the auditorium of the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Newly-elected Sovereign Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33° was present for the 33° conferral, and commented at the conclusion that it was “a superb conferral.”


Earlier in 1985, Illustrious Brothers Kruger and Downs visited James Madison University to discuss with three University officials how the Scottish Rite and University could mutually benefit from a “partnership” in a Childhood Language Disorders Program. There was, indeed, mutual agreement, and steps were taken by both sides to promote such an effort. As a result, and as a first step by the Scottish Rite, Deputy Kruger directed the Valleys of Alexandria, Richmond, and Roanoke to share the $4,000 cost of supporting ten children at JMU‟s upcoming 1985 Summer Clinic. From this basic beginning, this program evolved and expanded into the Orient of Virginia‟s major philanthropy. More about this later.


Many times during the 1980s and early 1990s, extra chairs had to be brought into the lodge room to accommodate overflow attendance. Such was not the case, however, at the February 14, 1985 meeting when only 34 members were in attendance – 34 brave men who defied heavy snow and hazardous conditions. [A similar thing happened in January 1999 with 23 in attendance.]


This 25-year period not only represented a continuing growth in membership until the apex was reached, but a number of Special Events and NEW activities and programs. These included:

1. A Scottish Rite Temple of our own.
2. Paid off mortgage.
3. Purchase of adjoining property.
4. Feast of Tishri program.
5. Blue Lodge Visitation Program
6. Charles and Polly Webber Scholarship Fund.
7. Shenandoah Valley Scottish Rite Club.
8. Childhood Language Disorders Program.
9. Open Installation of Officers.
10. Annual group visits to House of the Temple.
11. Reduction of petition fees for those under 31.

Special arrangements were made for the 75th anniversary of the Valley on September 27, 1986. Additional tables and chairs were set up in the Temple Dining Room for the “full house” attending the dinner prepared and served by Al Manarah Court No. 50 of the Ladies Oriental Shrine.


After the delicious dinner, the program was concluded in the auditorium. Illustrious Brother Howell cited many of the sketches he had derived from the 75-year history he had developed, and these were included in the printed program available to all who were present. Sovereign Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht, 33° also addressed the assemblage. He reflected on his experience and enjoyment with Alexandria brethren. He then offered congratulations to the Valley on this occasion and the progress it had made over the years.


Heads of the four Bodies on this anniversary year were:

Venerable Master – Ervin S. Becker, 32°
Wise Master – Robert E. Moore, 32°
Commander – Clarence E. Webb, 32°
Master of Kadosh – Kenneth L. Foran, 32°

Back to Chapter 3

Continue to Chapter 5 (1987-2011)

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