Volume LIIIMay 2006Number 2

News Across the Commonwealth
A True Testimony to the Members and Officers of Lodge No. 143
by Bro. Gene Herritt, D.D.G.M., Masonic District 3

When most people discover they have terminal cancer, they reflect on the things they had always wanted to do in life but had not. For some, it is sky diving or bungee jumping. But for Leonard Auchenbaugh, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2005, it was to become a Mason.

His friend, Bro. Lee Depuy, with the help of two other Brethren, John Cook and the Rev. Robert Cook, assisted him in petitioning Lodge No. 143 in Chambersburg. At the time it was felt that he had about six months to live. In February, after his petition was published in the Lodge notice, it was discovered he had only weeks to live and a dispensation was requested by Lodge No. 143's Worshipful Master, Tim McCarl, to confer all three degrees in one day. The request was granted by R.W. Grand Master Aungst.

The degrees were conferred in Bro. Auchenbaugh's home on March 12, 2006. The officers brought everything necessary for the gentleman's room to be converted into a Lodge room. The family left the home, which was tiled during the conferral of the degrees.

The officers did a good job under difficult circumstances. The candidate had been given morphine earlier in the day but was conscious of what was happening as the degrees were conferred. Between degrees I indicated to him that he was now an Entered Apprentice Mason, a Fellow Craft Mason, and finally I told him he was a Master Mason. He responded to that knowledge with as good a smile as he could muster under the circumstances. A friend of his had asked me to present a Masonic Pin to the newly made Brother when the degrees were conferred, and I did that. He was awake for the presentation and was appreciative.

When we were finished, I explained to the officers that they had participated in a unique Masonic experience and it would be a comfort to the family, as well as a peaceful pleasure to the new Brother. It was an inspiring afternoon and sad at the same time, in that this Brother appears to have been a man who could have both contributed to and gained from a full Masonic experience.

Bro. Auchenbaugh's wife, Patricia, has indicated that she feels he was just hanging on until he could be made a Mason. If so, his wish was granted. Bro. Auchenbaugh passed away at 5:30 a.m. on March 14, and a Masonic Service was performed on March 17.

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