|Volume LIX||November 2012||Number 4|
A PA Mason at Heart
During World War II, Bro. Paul Battenberg, Jordan-Martin Lodge No. 673, Allentown, wanted to serve his country in the U.S. Navy, but a childhood injury hindered his enlistment. In retrospect, "I guess you could say I was lucky to be unlucky," he said of the fateful deterrence. "I might not have made it out of the service."
And he wouldn't have made it to the age of 102. Residing in San Marcos, Calif., Bro. Battenberg maintains a sense of humor about surpassing the century mark. "I live day to day," he said. "I don't buy green bananas."
Bro. Battenberg was born on Sept. 8, 1910, in Canton, Ohio. His parents moved to Kansas City, Mo., when he was a child, and he later attended the University of Oklahoma. By the time he graduated college in 1933, his parents had moved to Allentown, Pa., and he followed them. Pennsylvania holds great significance in his life as the place where he met his wife, Helen, his three sons were born and he joined the Masonic fraternity.
Inspired by his father, who was a 32° Mason and a member of Knights Templar, Bro. Battenberg joined the Order of DeMolay at age 16. In 1937, he joined what is now Jordan-Martin Lodge No. 673 and served as Worshipful Master in 1945. Despite moving out of Pennsylvania, he has kept his membership with his lodge. In 1987, he received his 50-year pin from R.W. Past Grand Master Carl W. Stenberg, Jr., and in 2008, Bro. Alvin Blitz, chief gift planning officer at Masonic Villages, presented him with his 70-year Masonic Service Emblem. Recently, Bro. Thomas E. Colgan, Inspector, 901st Masonic District of the Grand Lodge of California, presented him with his 75-year Diamond Jubilee Award.
"I come from a Masonic family," he said, "so I try to live up to the ideals of the fraternity and be an example. I brought quite a few friends in when I was active."
He also belongs to Jordan Royal Arch Chapter No. 203, Allentown, and Allen-Beauceant Commandery No. 20, Knights Templar.
While in the Keystone state, Bro. Battenberg worked for the Department of Highways and the city of Allentown. He also spent time working for an underground piping company during the war making materials for overseas airfields. After moving back to Ohio in 1952, he worked as a construction engineer for the city of Akron until he retired in 1975.
He and Helen, who were married for 70 years before her passing in 2003, bought a motor coach in their retirement and traveled across the United States and Canada. After deciding they didn't like humidity and preferred not to shovel snow, they moved to the San Diego area where they'd found "the best weather in the world." Their travels also included international destinations such as Germany, Spain, Switzerland and England.
One city he'll never forget is Philadelphia. The Masonic Temple left an indelible impression upon Bro. Battenberg after he watched his nephew go through his degrees there. When he learned of the renovations taking place at the National Historic Landmark in 2008, he knew it was an effort he wanted to support financially. He also contributes to the Masonic Library and Museum of Pennsylvania and the Masonic Charities Fund.
"I have real strong memories of Masonic life in Pennsylvania," he said. "I want to help where I can."
Bro. Battenberg spends his days "taking it easy." He follows the San Diego Padres and Chargers on television and likes to golf when he is able. He looks forward to an annual gathering with Bro. Blitz and other Pennsylvania Masons who reside in California. Two of his sons have passed away, and one son lives nearby. He has four grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild. He is proud of his role at family functions as photographer and videographer, although he took the day off for his 100th birthday, which included a big celebration with family from across the country.
Pennsylvania Freemasonry is fortunate to have a member who has dedicated three quarters of a century to upholding the values of the fraternity, and supports its continued growth. While he loves the weather in California, Pennsylvania will always have a special place in Bro. Battenberg's heart.
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