|Volume LV||August 2008||Number 3|
Honoring the Fraternity, the King and the Game of Golf
by Bro. Rodney E. Boyce, District Deputy Grand Master for District 30
As a District Deputy Grand Master, of the many duties which you are obligated to perform, few are more enjoyable and instill a greater sense of pride in our fraternity than that of presenting worthy brothers with their Grand Lodge 50-Year Service Emblem. It is a very humbling duty, in which you are privileged to hear stories that have been many decades in the making - tales of a brother's travels throughout the fraternity and, indeed, of his lifetime. In many cases, while you may recognize the honoree's name, you often have not had the pleasure to make his acquaintance until the day when you are about to honor him for his years of service.
Earlier this year, while reading a list of 2008 50-year honorees for the 30th Masonic District, I was excited to see the name of Bro. Arnold D. Palmer, a member of Loyalhanna Lodge No. 275, Latrobe, Pa.
I grew up in a golf-friendly household. I reveled in hearing the stories when my father returned from his yearly trips to the Georgia coast with his friends to spend a week in "heaven" hitting that little white ball, along with alligators and wild turkeys. I remember paging through a tournament program with autographs of all the great golfers of the day-Palmer, Player, Nicklaus and Trevino. I took up the sport myself when my father gave me my first set of clubs at age 14. With my friends from DeMolay, I would often pretend to sink the big putt at Oakmont to win the U.S. Open, imagining one day we could play at that level.
When I received the Chevalier Degree in the Order of DeMolay, my father presented me with a framed autographed photograph of Bro. Palmer with the inscription, "To Rodney, Congratulations on your Chevalier Degree, Best Wishes, Arnold Palmer." This photo still resides in a place of honor in my office.
While I have met Bro. Palmer on at least one occasion and have other bits of memorabilia with his autograph in my office, I certainly never imagined being given the honor of presenting one of my sporting heroes with his 50-Year Service Emblem.
Through Bro. Bruce A. Robinson, Senior Warden of Ligonier Lodge No. 331, I arranged for an informal meeting to present Bro. Palmer with his emblem. The attendees are pictured below, left to right, in the row behind Bro. Palmer and Grand Master Gardner: Brothers Paul J. Roup, District Deputy Grand Master for the 54th District; Rodney E. Boyce, District Deputy Grand Master for District 30; Bro. Robinson; my father, G. Ervin Boyce, P.M., Westmoreland Lodge No. 518; Jason Bloom, Junior Warden of Loyalhanna Lodge No. 275; Jeffrey M. Wonderling, Past District Deputy Grand Master of the 30th District; and Mark A. Haines, R.W. Grand Secretary.
At the residence and office of Bro. Palmer, we were greeted by Bro. Doc Giffin, a 54-year member of Crafton Lodge No. 653 and Bro. Palmer's famed assistant and spokesman, and Mulligan, Bro. Palmer's 8-year-old yellow lab. Bro. Giffin escorted us into Bro. Palmer's office, where he was busy signing memorabilia, as he does for several hours each day. After some introductions, Grand Master Gardner, on behalf of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, presented Bro. Palmer with his 50-Year Service Emblem, his Gold Membership Card, the Grand Master's Medallion and a personal gift. The Grand Master congratulated Bro. Palmer, thanking him for his years of service, for the goodwill he has given to the fraternity and for the way he lives his life with true Masonic values. Bro. Palmer was sincerely overwhelmed with the gifts and thanked us all for the courtesies extended to him.
Bro. Palmer then walked us through the offices lined with many trophies, artifacts and memorabilia. He spoke about his award for being the "Professional Athlete of the Year," the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he received from President George W. Bush, and numerous other prestigious honors. He walked us through "President's Corner," which was filled with photos of himself with several presidents of the United States including Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush. In addition, a set of President Eisenhower's golf clubs stood on display. Bro. Palmer shared many humorous stories, including tales of President Ford's skills on the golf course, and more personal stories of his long relationship with President Eisenhower. He then stepped away to greet a young man who had won an area golf event.
Bro. Giffin showed us Bro. Palmer's workshop, where he still spends several hours each day building and maintaining golf clubs. On display among family portraits and several academic awards were thousands of golf clubs, as well as several items sent to Bro. Palmer by other famous athletes who admire him, including Michael Jordan, Dan Marino, Joe Montana and Tiger Woods. Photos of each of Bro. Palmer's several caddies also lined the wall. Inlaid on a circular, glass covered table in front of his desk is a medallion for each tournament he has won. Bro. Giffin explained that at the insistence of Bro. Palmer, there are still a few openings waiting to be filled with medallions from his next victories. Before we left, Bro. Palmer presented us with his own personal gifts.
We all left Latrobe that morning feeling honored to have met a true "living legend," a man who has achieved more success than most-all while living true to his values. Bro. Arnold Palmer is a man whom I have admired as a sports hero my entire life-a man among men, who stands tall and proud to be a Mason-and a man each of us can be proud to call "Brother."
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