Masonry, like marriage, teaching, missionary work, and so forth, is something one must really want to do. My conversation with anyone who seeks to petition a Masonic lodge is a very personal thing. It's not a matter of belonging to an organization . . . it's wanting to be a Mason!

I grew up in a family of Masons. Both my grandfathers were active Masons in the Lodge and other Masonic bodies. I fondly remember the Shrine picnic every year. I would look forward to it so much that days before, I'd don my grandfather's fez and parade around the house ­ proud as punch ­ saying to myself that someday I would be a Shriner.

I found my road to travel into Masonry half a world away. After college, I served in the Korean War in Kyoto, Japan, stationed at an isolated field station in the midst of a Japanese rice paddy. One day, Masonry came up in a conversation with the first sergeant of our small company and I learned that he was the Master of General John J. Pershing Lodge No. 131, a military lodge which met in the nearby town. I asked him for a petition and after I was made a Mason there I became active in that Lodge. After I arrived home in 1955 and was teaching in the Pittsburgh area, I visited Duquesne Lodge No. 731 several times.

Two years later, I relocated to Washington, PA, where I have lived since. Knowing I would never return to Japan, I petitioned Sunset Lodge No. 623. That was an important fraternal move for me because in my heart I knew that I wanted to become the Master of a lodge someday and I wouldn't be able to do that unless I became a member of that lodge. I served as Master in 1968.

I experience the values of brotherhood every day. Personal benefits ­ too many to enumerate ­ have come to me through Masonry, for which I am truly grateful. I still remain active in my Blue Lodge, rarely miss a meeting ­ stated and extra ­ and, if called upon, I still do some floor work. I am a lodge trustee and representative in the Grand Lodge. I am thrilled to serve the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania as an organist. I have served as the Organist-Director of Music for the Scottish Rite, Valley of Pittsburgh, for three decades ­ and the same for Syria Temple in Pittsburgh, a position from which I retired after 35 years. In 1980, I was coroneted a Thirty-Third Degree Mason in the Scottish Rite.

Masonry has been -- and still is -- a way of life for me!

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