In his honor we are name ... learned about him here
This brief history of George Washington Lodge No. 820 would not have been possible without the assistance of Brothers Wolfgang Roth and Lynn Braswell. Their assistance was invaluable, and most appreciated. This writing is not intended to be all inclusive of the events surrounding the Lodge’s history, but hopefully gives the reader an insight as what it was like throughout the years.
The chartering of George Washington Lodge No 820 in August 1955 was the signaling of a growing and thriving Masonic community in Kaiserslautern. By August of 1955, the influx of petitions had created an overbearing workload on the first American Lodge in Kaiserslautern, Galilei Lodge No. 810A. The decision was made to start a Deputy Lodge to help with the work.
In order to proceed with the establishment of the new Lodge, the Master of Galilei Lodge No. 810A, Worshipful Brother Ira E. Dabney, appointed Brother Dale Shore (then Senior Warden of Galilei Lodge No. 810A) as Master. The remaining officers were elected on 19 September 1955, they were:
Senior Warden: Harry R. Magaurn
Junior Warden: Jack L. Rookard
Secretary: Gerald K. Hannaford
Treasurer: Otis B. Dykes
Chaplain: Karl Wersa
Senior Deacon: Glen H. Gray
Tiler: Frederic W. Walpole
The appointment and election of officers was in accordance with VGL regulations governing the establishment of Deputy Lodges. To assist the newly appointed Master and elected officers in getting started, Galilei Lodge No. 810A donated $100 for the purchasing of supplies for the new Lodge.
The WM and elected Brethren were installed on 23 October 1955, in Landstuhl, Germany. Before proceeding to the Lodge Hall for the Installation, the Officers and Brethren attended Protestant Church Services late in the morning. After the services they ate lunch together. The Lodge was opened in the German language be the WM of Galilei Lodge 810A, WB Eduard Finckh. The Installing Officer was VWB Peter M. Rasmussen, (later to become Grand Master of the American Canadian Provincial Grand Lodge).
Over the next three months, the Lodge received seven petitions for membership. The Lodge held its first EA Degree on 8 December 1955, with two candidates being initiated that evening, using the Colorado ritual. Who could have foreseen that throughout the next forty years the Lodge would prosper, surviving the drawdown that was the demise of so many other Lodges? Who could have foreseen the many Charitable works the Lodge would perform, benefiting untold numbers of children and adults. Fortunately for the Brethren of today, the Brethren of yesterday laid the cornerstone for a strong foundation that is sure to carry the Lodge into the next Century.
The remainder of the decade proved most prosperous with the reception and reading of 147 petitions for membership, all within a 4-year period. As membership increased, so did the Lodge’s activities:
In February of 1956 the Lodge moved ahead with plans to sponsor a DeMolay Chapter (which is still active to this day). Also in 1956 the Lodge adopted the use of Jewels and Aprons with the identifiable markings of George Washington Lodge No. 820 (no longer in use). Another significant action also took place in 1956: the review of a new Lodge building location.
In February of 1957 a Masonic Library was created for the Masonic education of the Brethren. In March, a Building Fund was established t help defray the costs of a new building. The Lodge voted to contribute to the purchase of a new building (in use today) in April 1957. In October, the Lodge agreed to sponsor a Rainbow Girls Assembly, then called Secret Masonic Father’s Program.
The remainder of the decade saw the commencement of the Lodge’s first jewelry sales, as well as numerous other activities, to include: St. John’s Day celebrations and Festive Dinners. The Lodge was also active in charitable activities, donating funds to such worthy causes as: the German Mason’s Memorial Fund, and the DeMolay and Rainbow youth groups. The Lodge also established a Poor Brother’s Fund. It is particularly interesting to note that the Lodge still carries on its roles as a dues paying member, Brother Lee R. Pouncey, one of the “original” Brothers, having been initiated 15 December 1955. The next two oldest, dues paying members of the Lodge are Brother Fred G. Daggett and Robert E. Rankin, both having been initiated 11 October 1956.
The 1960’s was by far the most successful membership period for the Lodge with 325 petitions for membership received and read (it should be noted that not all petitions received were elected to membership). This large volume of petitions ensured the Lodge’s survival, despite the high turnover of military personnel in the early years, and despite losses due to the Vietnam Conflict. The Lodge was extremely fortunate to be able to receive the number of petitions it did. By doing so, the Lodge’s future was cemented.
The Lodge continued with its activities in to the 1960’s, with degree work being the focal point. Even though the 1960’s was an exceptional decade for membership, it is interesting to note that the February 2, 1961 stated meeting was the first meeting since the Lodge’s founding that no first time petitions were read. In order to impress the candidates further, the Lodge purchased new regalia in 1962.
The year 1963 saw significant developments in the Lodge’s history, as well as the American Canadian Provincial Grand Lodge’s. It was in 1963 that the ACGL was formed, with VWB Peter M. Rasmussen elected as its first GM. It was also in this year that the Lodge designed and had made the Lodge Bijou. Other significant events included the establishment of the Lodge’s first saving account.
Although 1964 had few significant events, the remainder of the 1960’s more thank made up for it. It was in 1965 that the first sizable charitable donation, in the amount of $200 each was made to 2 families that had lost all their possessions in a fire. That $200 would be worth approximately $1,600 today. The point is that the Lodge was extremely generous when it came to charitable donations, acts which were to continue in the future. The Lodge also continued with its support of DeMolay and Rainbow.
In 1966 the Lode expressed a concern for the furthering of Masonic education for the newly raised candidates, thus an education committee was created. During this year it wan not uncommon to see over 20 members on the sidelines during meetings (although small in number considering the large number of initiates). This was also the year that the Lodge purchased the Columns in use today, within Lodge Room. Galilei Lodge No 810A provided the Globes (situated on top). As for Charity, the Lodge provided flowers to hospitalized and sick wives of Masons. It also received permission from the Grand Lodge t donate Lodge Charity funds to non-Masonic related individuals, and thus donating $100 to a crippled child in Frankfurt, and DM400 to Italian flood victims.
The Lodge continued its charitable works in 1967 with the donation of $100 to General John J. Pershing Lodge No. 62 in Fontainbleau, France to help maintain a permanent Masonic Home. It was also the first in what was to become many years of donations to the Kinderheim (Orphaned Children’s Home), in the amount of $150. The year of 1967 also recorded the Lodge’s first casualty of e Vietnam Conflict. This was also the year that the Lodge adopted the use of the Sign of Fidelity when speaking in Lodge and addressing the WM.
The last two-year of the decade saw the election of RWB Peter M. Rasmussen to Honorary Membership in the Lodge. Charity also continued with $200 being donated to a Brother in distress, and $50 being donated to the Landstuhl Kinderheim. It was also during this time frame that WB Billy C. Hayes (later to become GM of the ACGL) was making pitches for the Brethren to attend Verein meetings (something he continues to do to this day!). Even in the late 1960’s the Verein was considering the sale of the Lodge building. This issue was finally settled in 1996 when the Verein voted to keep and renovate the Lodge building. It was also during this time frame that WB Burton L. Clyde (later to become GM of the ACGL) presented the Lodge with a bookcase to house its Library and collectibles (the bookcase can be viewed just outside the Lodge’s inner door).
As the Lodge headed into the 1970’s, the most notable events of the decade seem to have been the Lodge’s charitable contributions. The reception of membership petitions during the 1970’s had dropped to only 151 (wouldn’t any Lodge be so lucky to receive that many petitions today!). In 1970 the Lode donated $100 each to the DeMolay and Rainbow. It also gathered donations for victims of catastrophes in Rumania and Peru. Other activities in 1970 included a George Washington’s Birthday Party and Past Master’s Night (with 86 Brothers in attendance, including 15 Past Masters and 4 Provincial Grand Lodge Officers). It was also in 1970 that the Verein could not find any prospective buyers of the Lodge building (they had one firm that was interested in the building, but went bankrupt!).
The year of 1971 was a busy year as far as charitable donations go. The Lodge voted to match donations up to DM 6,000 (worth about DM 32,000 today) for the Marianum Kinderheim in Grunstadt to help repair their building; however, subsequent meetings throughout the year did not produce enough donations, so the Lodge had to back out of their pledge. The Lodge did, however, spend $182 for a Christmas Party for the Children. The Lodge donated DM 420 to the PMR Fund at Grand Lodge. They also spent $300 for new carpet for the two outer rooms, stairs and officer’s podiums. Another $200 was spent on the installation. The Lodge also donated DM 200 to the Albert Schweitzer Familienwerk (Children’s Fund). The year of 1971 was not all charity: the Lodge held Table Lodges, luncheons and a Christmas Party.
Although 1972 was a happy year for the recipients of the Lodge’s charitable donations, it was a sad year in Masonry: RWB Peter M. Rasmussen passed away February 8, 1972. As for the Lodge’s Charity: $225 and DM 700 was donated to the Kinderheims; $1,100.95 was raised at the Lodge’s Charity Ball; $275 each was donated to DeMolay and Rainbow; and DM 200 was donated to the VGL’s Charity Appeal. Other notable events in 1972 included the dedication of Nahe Temple Lodge in Worms. This was also the year that saw the first Master’s and Secretary’s Annual Reports filed with the minutes.
The year 1973 proved to be another profitable year for Lodge supported charities: children form India received financial support from several of the Brethren; DeMolay and Rainbow received $125 each; the Marianum Kiderheim received DM 1000 to the ACGL Charity Appeal; DM 100 to the VGL Charity Appeal; and $100 to the OES’s Christmas Party. A Christmas basket was also presented to the Kinderheim. Other events during the year included: 2 Lodges of Instruction; and officer’s advancement night (also known as a “step-up” night); Past Master’s day; Lodge of Sorrow; 3 family pot-luck’s; a summer picnic at the Marianum Kiderheim; the George Washington Charity Ball; and a visit to the French Lodge in Metz.
In 1974 the Lodge actually experienced its first documented problem: attendance. Who would think that a Lodge this active could experience this kind of problem? There was actually talk of turning in the Charter, or Consolidation; however, the Lodge prevailed and rose above the internal conflicts that led to its problems. In continuing with its tradition, DeMolay and Rainbow were the recipients of generous contributions, amounting to $330 each. Once again the Marianum Kinderheim received a generous contribution, amounting DM 1,000. Of particular interest is the Lodge’s donation, or deposit of DM 8,000 into an Investment Fund (Building Fund) with the ACGL. The Lodge, not being afraid to spend a few dollars, budgeted $1,200 for its George Washington Ball (not many Lodges have that kind of money today!). Other notable events; the assistance rendered to Luftbruke Lodge in Wiesbaden for an EA Degree (a relationship of mutual support which continues to this day); Pot luck dinners; a Picnic; Past Master’s Degree; and $100 for the OES’s Christmas Party. One other interesting item to note: RWB Burton L. Clyde (PMG, and PM of George Washington Lodge), was the first Brother within the Grand Lodge to have been nominated by his Lodge, and receive the Grand Lodge’s Bronze and Silver Awards for Masonic Service.
The year 1975 was business as usual for the Lodge’s charitable donations: $450 donated to DeMolay; $150 donated to Rainbow; $100 to the George Washington National Memorial; and $100 to a need family in Setback. The Lodge also added DM 2,000 to the Grand Lodge Building Fund. Other notable events included: the naming of the Lodge Newsletter, “The Cabletow”; raising the petition fee to DM 400 (which remains the same, 21 years later); the raising of the Lodge rent, or donation to DM 500 a month (which has only increased DM 75 in 21 years); and the awarding of the Grand Lodge’s Gold Award to Right Worshipful Brother Burton L. Clyde. The Lodge also held a Past Master’s afternoon and Charity Ball.
The Bicentennial year, 1976 saw little significant events. The charity work continued; $200 to the Guatemala Charity Appeal by the VGL; $100 to the family of a deceased Brother; $50 per quarter to the PREP Scholarship Program at Rhine Ordinance Barracks; $25 to the Nahe Rainbow Assembly; $100 to the OES’s Christmas Party; and the purchase of a refrigerator for a needy Brother. This was also the year Ed Winters (later to become PM of Triangle Lodge in Mannheim) joined the Lodge (WB Ed continues to attend Lodge to this day, holding the honor of being the Brother with the longest running participation and attendance in the Lodge’s history).
The remainder of the decade saw the continuance of the Lodge’s charitable works: DM 200 to the Marianum Kinderheim; $100 to the Menlo Park, New Jersey, Cerebral Palsy Association; $100 to the Royal Masonic Hospital; $300 to the Rainbow Girls; $100 to DeMolay; $100 for the OES’s Christmas Party; and miscellaneous donations to the Verein (to purchase a new dishwasher) and to the relief of two needy Brothers.
Despite the large presence of U.S. Forces in the Kaiserslautern community, membership petitions dropped to an all time low in the 1980s, with only ’65 petitions received and read. Even though the overall petitions were down for the decade, 1980 saw 16 petitions received and read. It was also in 1980 that the Lodge celebrated its 25th Anniversary, with Commemorative Plates produced to mark the event. Also in 1980 the WM was ordered by the Grand Lodge to destroy all reproduced copies of the Standard Work (Rituals), and to put all Grand Lodge copies under the strict control of the Secretary.
Although not much happened in 1981, 1982 made up for it. With 11 petitions received and read, the Lodge kept busy. During this year the Lodge was fortunate to have three PGMs present together, at one meeting; they were: RWBs Dr. Hugo Thomas, Billy C. Hayes, and Art Kile. In keeping with the Grand Master’s theme, “In Knowledge Lies Strength,” the Lodge voted to spend DM 200 on library books for the continuance of the Brethren’s Masonic education. The Lodge was also represented at a visitation to Lafayette Lodge No. 51 in Strassbourg, France. As for Charity works, the Lodge donated $50 to the John D. Skoglund Memorial Scholarship Fund; $200 to the PMR Fund; and $100 to the Christmas Party Talent Contest. Also in 1982 the Lodge voted to allow a Spanish Speaking Lodge to use the Lodge Building one Sunday per month. It was in 1982 that the Lodge celebrated and observed the 259th Anniversary of George Washington, the man. RW Dr. Hugo Thomas was the guest speaker for the evening.
The next year with significant events was the Masonic year, 1984-1985. It was during this time frame that the ACGL adopted and approved the current Standard Work and Lectures, replacing all former forms of rituals in use. Some of the more significant activities that took place were: a George Washington Birthday Dinner; a Mystery Dinner; Chinese Auction; a trip to the Cologne Parade; and a skiing trip to Austria. The Lodge also received the sad news of the passing of its first Master, WB Dale Shore. It is interesting to note that WB Shore was also the one who represented the Verein in the signing of the purchase contract for the current Lodge building. As for Charity, the Lodge held fund-raisers for a George Washington Room at the Grand Lodge. It supported the Grand Lodge’s Charity appeal for victims of child abuse, and for battered women. Also supported was the Child Care Program at the Ansbach Military Community. Notable donations included $50 to a lady in distress; $80 for Food and Clothing for Polish people, and $150 for Rainbow. In July of 1985, WB Julius J. Gimble was presented with a Medal of Appreciation from the Grand Master of DeMolay, at the DeMolay Conclave. WB Jay has the district honor of being the oldest Master Mason member of the Lodge (affiliated), having being raised 25 October 1949.
Some of the events recorded during the time frame 1986-1987 were a charitable donation to the Hermann-Gmeiner-Foundation SOS Children’s Village for DM 100, and a Nutcracker party. The Lodge also received and read 9 petitions for membership.
The Lodge’s activities picked up during the years 1987-1988. This was the time when VWB Nate Johnson of Galilei Lodge 810A was made an Honorary Member. VWB Nate, and RWB Billy C. Hayes (also an Honorary Member of the Lodge) are still very active to this day in supporting the activities of George Washington Lodge. Other activities held during this time frame included: a Thanksgiving Day dinner: a Holiday Season, Nutcracker Party; a Past Master’s Night; a Wine Probe Tour; a Lodge Memorial Service; and combined Festive Boards with Galilei Lodge No 810A. The main charitable works were the donating of clothing to the Landstuhl orphanage.
Although 1988-1989 recorded few significant Lodge events, there was one tragic event that will live in the minds of the Kaiserslautern Community, and the Lodge forever: the Ramstein Air Show Disaster in which several Italian Aircraft collided in mid-air, stewing wreckage onto the crowd below, killing dozens and injuring many. The Lodge donated $100 to a Community Fund established for the victims. The Lodge continued with its Charity Work, donating clothes to the Landstuhl orphanage; food baskets for needy families during the holiday season, assisted by the Ramstein Chaplain’s Service; assisting the Ramstein Air Base Security Police with their Toys-for-Tots Drive; and the donation of $25 to the Masonic Service Organization.
The Masonic year ending in 1990 saw 7 petitions received and read and charitable donations of $350 for needy families. The Masonic year ending in 1991 saw numerous Family Nights; combined Christmas Party; District Lodge of Sorrow; Pig Roast Fund Raiser; Past Master’s Night, and participation in the Special Olympics. Charitable contributions included: $200 for needy families; $100 each for DeMolay and Rainbow; $150 to a needy Brother; $75 towards the OES’s Thanksgiving Dinner; and $50 for the European Shrine Club (in memory of one of the Brother’s father). There were also visitations to other Lodges, as well as to Friendship Chapter No 4 in Luxembourg. This was also the year that the magnificent murals were painted on the panels behind the three principal officer’s stations by WB Albert F. Buhler, PM of Galilei Lodge No 810.
The Masonic year ending 1992 saw the early departure of the Master (due to Permanent Change of Station and rotation back to the States) after only serving 3 months of his term. The drawdown was nearing full swing as the Lodge faced its most challenging time in decades: decreased population base upon which to draw members. The drawdown also meant that there would be fewer Master Masons affiliating with the Lodge. The most significant event to take place during this year was the Lodge’s hosting of the ACGL Annual Communication at Garmisch. The event was so well received, that the Lodge’s Junior Warden, Brother Ed Kiefer (later to become Master of the Lodge) received the Grand Master’s Recognition Award for all his hard work in putting together one of the Grand Lodge’s most successful Annual Communications. This was also the year in which Galilei Lodge No. 810 celebrated its own 40th Anniversary.
Also during this year the received and read 8 petitions for membership. It also made the following donations: $100 to a needy Brother; $100 to the Grand Lodge to offset advertising costs in the Stars & Stripes Newspaper; participated in the Special Olympics; $50 to the Burn Hospital each to Grand Lodges of Florida and Louisiana for Hurricane Andrew victims.
Activities picked up the following Masonic year, ending in 1993. This was the year that the Lodge raised $3,000 for Shriner’s Crippled Children’s Hospital. The funds were raised from gift-wrapping and bagging at the Pulaski Barracks Toyland (an activity that was to continue in future years) The Lodge also participated in the Special Olympics. Other Charitable works included donations for: a needy Brother ($238); needy family members ($150); Christmas Baskets for needy families; the John D. Skoglund Fund ($100) ; $100 for the DCK Croation Relief Charity; and for a Tierheim (Animal Hospital) in the former East Germany (DM 100). As for petitions received and read, the Lodge recorded 5 petitions for membership. The Lodge kept fairly busy with activities throughout the year. Some of the more notable trips: Wein Probe in Bernkastel Kues; Past Master’s Night; District Lodge of Sorrow; and numerous visitations to other Lodges (including trips to Friendship Chapter No. 4, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg). It was also proposed during this time frame to consolidate with Galilei Lodge No. 810A (the Lodge was in favor, but Galilei 810A was not). This was also the year that the Lodge was honored to have one of its members, RWB Donald Metsher serving as Grand Master.
The Masonic year 1993-1994 saw the Master on TDY for 3 months during his tenure. The drawdown of U.S. Forces in the Kaiserslautern area was now in full swing. With the higher turnover in Military personnel (and subsequent loss of Brethren), there were a decreased number of petitions received this year, with only 3 received the entire year. Activities were limited as the Lodge repositioned itself to handle its losses. One such loss was that of the Lodge’s Secretary. The Lodge’s Secretarial affairs were grossly neglected as the Secretary began to out-process. This caused serious repercussions well into the following Masonic Year. Fortunately for the Lodge, WB Greg Schleifer (Past Master of Spessart Lodge) came to the rescue and accepted the nomination for Secretary, being elected at a Special Communication. The Lodge’s most notable charitable donation during this time was $200 for the Hungarian Widow’s Relief Fund.
The drawdown of U.S. Forces in the Kaiserslautern area neared closure during the Masonic year of 1994-1995 and life in the Kaiserslautern Military Community began to stabilize; however, petitions received remained at only 1 for the year. Just as the Lodge’s Secretarial affairs were beginning to stabilize, the new Secretary retired from the Military and returned to the States in late summer of 1995. Once again the Lodge’s Secretarial affairs fell behind, but with far less repercussions. The Lodge had numerous activities, most notably; the Charity Christmas Fund Raiser at the Pulaski Barracks Toyland (which raised $2,600), allowing the Lodge to donate over $500 to various Masonic Charities; District Table Lodge (which was extremely well received) in which the lodge had produced commemorative Cannons; many trips to Luxembourg to visit
Friendship Chapter No. 4; and most importantly of all: the Lodge received Community Recognition (under the auspices of the Ramstein Square & Compass Club), from Ramstein Air Base (thanks to the hard work of Brother Dave Kotun). This recognition (something the Lodge had been trying to achieve for years) meant that the Lodge could hold fund-raisers on Ramstein Air Base. The Lodge also contributed to other Charities: $100 for a needy Brother; $100 to the Widow of VWB Ed Buck (several members of the Lodge also attended the Masonic services held at the cemetery); and $100 to DeMolay. The Lodge also donated a reef for the funeral of WB Dave Rush, and several of the Brethren attended the graveside services. Again, Verein discussions concerning the Lodge buildings future continued without resolution.
With drawdown over, life in the Kaiserslautern Community was finally back to normal. The Masonic year of 1995-1996 saw increased petitions (5) and charitable donations. For the second year in a row the Lodge had a successful Christmas Charity Fund raiser at Pulaski Barracks Toyland, despite being canceled early by the WM for lack of participation. The Lodge’s Charities included: $100 to the family of a severely burned child; $100 to the John D. Skoglund Fund; $100 for a needy Brother; DM 300 for the Hungarian Widows Fund (Grand Lodge of Hungary); $200 to DeMolay. The Lodge also donated DM 70 each, to the following; John D. Skoglund Fund; PMR Fund; European Shrine Club; Rainbow Girls; Kaiserslautern York Rite Bodies; American Military Scottish Rite Bodies. Other acts of Charity by the Lodge included exempting a Brother from paying dues, thus rendering the Brother in good standing at the time of his death. The Lodge also donated $125 to the Verein for repairs to the building. One of the first functions held by the Lodge was the Lodge of Sorrow for the recently deceased WB Dave Rush. The Brethren of the Lodge put on a fine ceremony, which was well received by the family of WB Dave Rush.
The Lodge was able to prosper despite the absence of the Secretary (yet again). It was early in the term (first months) that the Secretary was not able to perform his duties due to personal reasons. WB Dave Facundo (having been a Past Secretary), realized the seriousness of the situation, and took it upon himself to Pro-tem as Secretary while serving concurrently as Master. Although family activities were limited, the Lodge’s main social event of the Masonic Year was a traditional St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. Other activities included numerous visitations to 5 Lodges within the ACGL; numerous visitations to Galilei Lodge No 810; and attendance at Friendship Chapter No. 4’s Annual Installation (Luxembourg). The Lodge was also represented at other Lodges’ functions, attending and participating in the District Lodge of Sorrow held Pirmasens; the St. Johannis Fest and Summer Fest held by Galilei Lodge No. 810; Galilei Lodge No 810A’s Past Master’s Night; Mount Moriah’s 40th Anniversary Celebration; as well as attendance at the Semi-Annual and Annual Communications of the Grand Lodge. The Lodge also invited the German Brethren of Galilei Lodge No. 810 to enjoy the fireworks display at the Ramstein air Base annual Freedom Fest. It was also in 1996 that WB Dave Facundo was able to get the Verein to finally vote on the future of the Lodge Building (the Verein voted to keep the building and renovate it). Perhaps the most significant even of the year was the moving of Nahe Temple Lodge No. 824’s Charter to Kaiserslautern (in order to keep the Lodge active and alive).
The Masonic Year culminated with the 40th Anniversary celebration on 17 August 1996.
The Masonic year 2000-2001, the Lodge went through a very rough time as membership started to dwell. It was quite obvious that due to monetary reasons, this Lodge and its brethren could not continue to meet at Augustra Strasse. The brethren voted to relocate and in April 2001, the Lodge, under the leadership of WB John Hardie,. had their first stated meeting at a Gasthouse in Schonenberg-Kubelberg. On May 8th 2001, the lodge was finally consecrated in which brethren from all over Germany came by to wish us “good fortune.”
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