|Volume LVIII||February 2011||Number 1|
Thank You, Brother Mike & Linda Mattes,
for Supporting a Peaceful Sanctuary for All
Walk down a path of discovery and exploration. Flowers burst from the ground in waves of colors and a kaleidoscope of shapes. A warm breeze carries the sweet scent of roses and the soft kisses of a splashing fountain. The whispering fountain and chatting birds calm your soul. As the sun breaches the horizon and casts its golden rays, the stone turns to gold. It opens your eyes to the beauty surrounding you.
Photographs come close to capturing the glory of the Formal Gardens at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, but much like the rest of the campus, you can only discover its true beauty by experiencing the gardens yourself.
On Sept. 11, 2010, Bro. Mike Mattes and his wife, Linda, unveiled a plaque and dedicated the Formal Gardens "for the enjoyment of all who visit this peaceful sanctuary" as part of a named endowment provided in their Will. In doing so, they helped to secure the future of the Masonic Villages, Masonic Children's Home and the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania.
"This fraternity deserves it," said Bro. Mike, a member of Easton Lodge No. 152. "If you look at all they do and all they provide - what the fraternity stands for - we wanted to help perpetuate that."
As a member of Calypso Chapter No. 163, Bethlehem, Order of the Eastern Star, Linda also has strong ties to the Masonic family. As a child living in Easton, her friend's mother told stories of charity provided through the Calypso Chapter, which first triggered her interest in the Eastern Star. Years later, she joined the chapter.
In the meantime, she developed a crush on a young man whom she formally met during his senior year of high school. After dating for three years, Linda married the young man, Bro. Mike, in 1967. She got her beauty license, but realized that her passion was to be an LPN, so she went back to nursing school. She now works at a continuing care retirement community.
Linda likes the fellowship she has found through the Eastern Star. "I like the charity," she said. "They help you when you're down and out and provide compassion."
Bro. Mike has found that the same is true for the Masonic fraternity throughout the world. Bro. Mike was also born in Easton, but at a young age, his father was recalled into the submarine service during the Korean War. Bro. Mike and his mother moved to San Diego. After the war, the family moved back to Easton, where Mike finished his high school years.
After graduation, Bro. Mike joined a four-year toolmaker apprentice program and attended Penn State University in the evenings. "A lot of fellows I worked with were Masons," he said. The men had great personalities and caring natures. "They went above and beyond to help a young man learn a trade." At age 26, he was raised a Master Mason.
While Bro. Mike worked at the Bell & Howell Company, he also served in the Army National Guard for six years. He always wanted to broaden his knowledge and explore his first passion - electronics, so he earned an associate degree in applied science from Northampton (Area) Community College while he worked full time. For the next 20 years, Bro. Mike worked in manufacturing engineering, eventually becoming manager of the department. Then wanting to help the customers, he spent another 22 years as a senior support engineer. This career took him all over the world to train, troubleshoot, instruct, install and provide technical support for mail processing machines. To resolve a particular machine problem, Mike invented a device that earned him a patent.
Bro. Mike enjoyed visiting new places and liked them all. On occasion, Linda would join him in his travels to places like Venezuela, Japan and California, but her favorite location was Alaska.
"Oftentimes in my travels, I would look up lodges to see if there were any in the area and when they had meetings," Bro. Mike said. He attended lodge meetings in many countries, including Japan, and found a unifying trend among all Masons: "It was such a good feeling that you could relate to brothers all over the world," he said. "It was like you'd known them forever."
Bro. Mike retired three years ago, but may be busier now than when he worked full time. He enjoys remodeling projects, helping people solve their computer problems for free and taking day trips with his brother-in-law, especially to Philadelphia and visiting the Grand Lodge. Bro. Mike joined his township's volunteer fire company as a volunteer fire policeman. He pioneered for the fire company to have a website, which Bro. Mike now manages. Recently, he was appointed to his township's budget advisory committee. "We love to help people wherever we can," Bro. Mike said. "We are just average people who care about our fellow man."
Bro. Mike has also become an amateur wine maker. Bro. Mike and Linda both love spending time outdoors, and Linda particularly enjoys tending to plants and flowers on their four-acre property. They have two Yorkshire Terriers that keep them busy and a homemade gel candle business called Candle Pantry, LLC.
Bro. Mike and Linda first became familiar with the Masonic Villages, Masonic Children's Home and the Masonic Library and Museum through pictures and articles in Masonic publications. "The museum is phenomenal," Linda said. Several years ago, they saw the children's home for the first time on a bus tour during Autumn Day.
"This fraternity deserves it," said Bro. Mike. "If you look at all they do and all they provide - what the fraternity stands for - we wanted to help perpetuate that."
For the last six months of his life, Bro. Mike's father lived at the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown. "He loved it there and spoke very highly of it," Bro. Mike said. "That's when I first saw the beauty of the [village]. ... Just to see what they provided was amazing." The attention to detail in the dining room and the underground tunnels that provide indoor transportation in poor weather impressed the couple.
Even though he always knows the answer will be positive, Bro. Mike likes to ask residents what they think of living at the Masonic Village. His favorite response to date was: "This is like being on a cruise ship out in the middle of a corn field."
That type of response confirmed their decision to inquire about an annuity through a mailer they received. Joyce Michelfelder, Director of Gift Planning - East Region, called to discuss how other options might benefit the Mattesses more because of their young age. After talking and a second phone call, Joyce suggested that they begin to consider their estate planning. "This started us thinking, 'What should we do with our assets and worldly goods?'" Bro. Mike said. "It didn't take us too much thinking."
"For all the fraternity does, it was the first thing that came to mind," Linda said.
The Mattesses are grateful to Joyce for her guidance and for connecting them to Bro. Clifford Scott Meyer and Bro. Bill Kingsbury, both of Melita Lodge No. 295, Philadelphia, who provide legal services for the Grand Lodge. "They really did all the legal work," Bro. Mike said. "Especially Bill's guidance was really instrumental in helping us to zone in on what the fraternity needed most."
"Everybody's been great there," Linda added. She was especially touched when she mentioned off-handedly to Joyce that it would be nice to have some children at the plaque unveiling. When they arrived at the Formal Gardens on Sept. 11, a boy and girl from the children's home met them. "They're so sweet," Linda said. "That was really special."
When asked why they chose the Formal Gardens as their naming opportunity, Linda did not hesitate: "Because I'm an outdoor girl who loves to be barefoot!"
"From the first time we were out there at the Grand Lodge Hall and looking out over the gardens, it was so peaceful and serene," Bro. Mike said. "For all to enjoy, that's why we did it. It adds to the beauty of the campus."
As the Matteses stood by their everlasting stone, a small voice rung out. "Thank you," said the boy with big brown eyes. While he could not have comprehended the significance of the Matteses' donation, he knew that their gift, and others like it, gives him a chance to grow and succeed in life. "One of my favorite sayings is 'the children are our future.' I'm so relaxed to know we're contributing to the children," Linda said.
"We can't think of anything better," Bro. Mike agreed.
R.W. Grand Master Sturgeon thanked and congratulated the couple on their thoughtful and selfless gift. "There's a need for all Pennsylvania Masons to consider gifts in estate planning to continue to ensure the fraternity and the Masonic Charities will flourish into the next century," he said.
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