Gulf Beach Lodge Awards Scholarships

Colleen Cannon
Nicholas Leger

May 17, 2022

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge presented its annual Albert T. and Tupper MacMillan Scholarship, supported by the Ernest J. Freeman Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Scholarship winners were Ms. Callee Connon a graduating Senior at St. Petersburg High School and Mr. Nicholas Leger, a graduating Senior at Largo High School.

Ms. Connon will be attending Florida State University in the Fall where she will begin her studies in the Biological Sciences. At age 7, Ms. Connon began a service project called “Callee’s Bikes For Buddies” which raises money to provide bikes to homeless children living in shelters. Through the years she has provided over 1,027 bicycles to children in need. At school she is active in the Key Club and a member of the National Honor Society, English Honor Society, Rho Kappa Honor Society and the Medical Club. She was recipient of the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award for her dedicated community service. Ms. Connon has been a member of the school’s varsity tennis team and served as Captain.

Mr. Leger will be attending University of Florida in the Fall and will be studying Mechanical Engineering. Mr. Leger has been active in volunteer work with the Habitat for Humanity, St. Petersburg Association for the Deaf and has been a private tutor and mentor. He has also created a service project called “OurStory”, which is a safe space for troubled individuals to share their stories anonymously online. At school Mr. Leger was President of the Robotics Club, President of the Science Olympiad, and Captain of the Ultimate Frisbee Club. He was also a member of the Swim Team and Science National Honor Society. Mr. Leger is currently contending for Largo High School Valedictorian and Salutatorian.

Ernest J. Freeman Jr., Master of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1984, had a vision. This vision was to create a scholarship program that would grant deserving local students funds to assist in their college tuition. It was also his vision to create a program which would be self-perpetuating thereby being a source of assistance well into the future. After the passing of Ernest Freeman the Scholarship program was renamed in his memory and has helped support four college students each year since its inception. The annual Scholarship winner receives $2,000.00 to assist in their College or University expenses.

April 30, 2022

Members of our Lodge today assisted with the Walter Fuller Park Cleanup along with members of ‘Residents of West St. Pete’ and ‘Keep Pinellas Beautiful’. A crew of 20 fanned out throughout the park and collected trash and debris. Twenty trash bags full were collected and disposed of. Thank you to those who took part.

Freemasonry at Work

March 11, 2022

One of our members is in rehab and will hopefully be coming home soon. To help facilitate his home coming he was in need of a ramp at his residence so he would not have to manage the steps. His Gulf Beach Lodge brothers immediately came to his aid and started making plans to build a ramp. Our Junior Steward, Lukas Vanagaitis, came forward and offered one of his carpentry crews to do the job as a service project. This morning Brothers Steve Johnson, Howard Knapp, Lucas Vanagaitis, with his crew of two carpenters, met at our brother’s home and started the project. Shortly after lunch the project was completed – and I must say – it looks great.

Thank you to the carpentry team of Karolis Kirmelevicius and Karolis Sematovicius for their expertise and willingness to donate their time to help a stranger in need. And thank you to our Junior Steward, Lukas, for offering his crew to help get this project completed.

This is Freemasonry at work!

At the Stated Meeting of March 17th the Lodge collected $1,064.00 to be sent to the Grand Lodge of Ukraine for support of our brothers there.

March 8, 2022

Information on Donations to the Grand Lodge of Ukraine

February 19, 2022

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge No. 291, located at 14020 Marguerite Dr. in Madeira Beach, recently supported the Madeira Beach Fire Department in their participation in the American Lung Association’s ‘Fight For Air Climb’. The climb this year was held at historic Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The firefighters of MBFD created a team which took part in this worthy event and represented Madeira Beach in the highest manner. Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge is proud to have supported our local firefighters and the American Lung Association with a monetary donation of $150.00. Congratulations to the MBFD team and their dedicated service to our community.

Officer Installation for 2022

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge No. 291, held its 72nd annual Installation of Lodge Officers on Saturday, January 8th at the Masonic Temple in presence of members, visitors, family and friends. The Installation of the 2022 Lodge Officers was open to the members and public alike. The new Lodge Officers for 2022 are: Steve Johnson, Worshipful Master; Joseph Sosa, Senior Warden; Bobby Burkett, Junior Warden; David Johnson, Treasurer; David Neville, Secretary; Howard Knapp, Chaplain; Richard Hightower, Marshal; Buck Owens, Senior Deacon; Tim Delaney, Junior Deacon; Chip Cahall, Senior Steward; Lukas Vanagaitas, Junior Steward; Cozy DeRosa, Musician and Mark Niceley, Tyler.
The Installation was led by Right Worshipful Howard W. Knapp, Past District Deputy Grand Master of the 21st Masonic District assisted by Worshipful Oscar Salazar, Past Master, Installing Chaplain; Worshipful Mark Sawa-Szostak, Past Master, Installing Marshal and Worshipful Joe Finocchairo, Past Master, Installing Musician. The members of Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241, Order of Eastern Star, provided the refreshments that followed.

L-R  Cozy DeRosa, David Johnson, Chip Cahall, Buck Owens, Joe Sosa, Steve Johnson, Bobby Burkett, Tim Delaney, Richard Hightower, Lukas Vanagaitis and Howard Knapp

January 15, 2022
Hot Gavel Delivered to Tampa Bay Lodge No. 252

On January 15th, three members of Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291 delivered the SMMA (Suncoast Master Mason Association) HOT Gavel to Tampa Bay Lodge No. 252, following their installation of officers. Our members were greeted with the greatest of fellowship and brotherly love and fraternal greetings were passed to the Worshipful Master of Tampa Bay Lodge, Rusty B. Valle, on behalf of the Worshipful Master of Gulf Beach Lodge, Stephen D. Johnson.

The purpose of the gavel program is to promote visitation between Lodges within District 18 of the Grand Lodge of Florida. Promoting cooperation, education and goodwill is the hope and intent of the Sun Coast Master Mason Association. 

Gulf Beach Lodge Brings Christmas Cheer to Veterans

December, 2021

Gulf Beach Lodge supported the ‘Heaven On Earth For Veteran’s, Inc’ on Christmas Eve with food baskets (part of the Bengston Holiday Food Basket program). It was our honor to bring holiday cheer into the lives of these fine veterans. Helping with the delivery were Brothers Jim Wittstruck, Howard Feldman and Paul Pearson.

 New Website Function: Subscribe to the Gulf Beach Lodge Calendar

The main calendar page now includes a handy subscribe button right at the bottom of the page. You’ll find a dropdown list there, with choices for Google Calendar, iCalendar, and the classic .ics export.

Once you click on Google Calendar or iCalendar, you’ll be redirected to your calendar application of choice and can add the calendar with one simple click.

On the single event page, the Google Calendar link will add the event directly to your Google Calendar. The iCal Export link downloads an .ics file for you to import to iCalendar or another calendar source.

November, 2021

W∴ Sawa-Szostak and W∴ Brown

W∴ David Brown, Master in 2006, has recently relocated to Georgia. His service and leadership within our Lodge will be sorely missed. On behalf of all the members of Gulf Beach Lodge W∴ Mark Sawa-Szostak presented W∴ David with a beautiful sculpture of a fully dimensional eagle and glass plaque. The inscription reads: “With Brotherly Love From Gulf Beach Lodge — Thank You For Your Years of Dedication, Support, And Service To Gulf Beach Lodge In The Beautiful City Of Madeira Beach.”


Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge, located at 14020 Marguerite Dr. in Madeira Beach, recently took a sponsorship roll in the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce Halloween Golf Tournament. Gulf Beach Lodge sponsored hole No. 1 and set up a tent to welcome and cheer participants as they began their day on the course. The proceeds from this tournament went toward the support of the Madeira Beach and Treasure Island Youth Recreation programs within each of these cities. Gulf Beach Lodge encourages other groups and organizations in our area to support the local youth programs.

L-R Bobby Burkett, Steve Johnson, Billy Sewell, Carolina Conner, Jason Conner


September 27, 2021

L-R Steve Johnson, Senior Warden at Gulf Beach Lodge; Mark Sawa-Szostak, Worshipful Master at Gulf Beach Lodge; Mrs. Kelly Kennedy, Principal; Mrs. Kristina Miles, Community Liaison

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge, located at 14020 Marguerite Dr. in Madeira Beach, recently supported Oakhurst Elementary School’s “Character Book” program by donating $250.00 to the school. This program is designed to help teach students personal characteristics such as responsibility, kindness and sincerity. They do this by purchasing 52 books a month, one for each classroom at an average cost of $10 per book. These books focus on the “character word of the month” and are purchased through funds raised within the community. Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge encourages other community organizations to get behind this worthy project and consider making a donation to Oakhurst Elementary School.
Oakhurst Elementary School is dedicated to educating and inspiring each student to reach maximum potential, become lifelong learners and responsible citizens.

September 23, 2021

Lt. Ashley White

Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291 and Tampa Bay Lodge No. 252 jointly donated $550.00 to the fund raiser for Lt. Ashley White with Palm Harbor Fire Rescue. Lt. White was working a vehicle crash last week when a truck, out of control, struck her as she was attending to victims on the scene. Lt White suffered severe injuries and had to undergo surgery. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lt. White and her family. The $550.00 donation was collected at a special Firefighter Masonic Degree that was conferred on September 23rd at Gulf Beach Lodge for a member of Tampa Bay Lodge and will be added to the outpouring of financial support that is coming in from the community to help offset the financial burden this will have caused.

September 10, 2021: Gulf Beach Lodge Adopts a Classroom

(L-R) Mr. Dave Bostick (2nd Grade Teacher), Ms. Stacie Allen (Community Liaison), Mark Sawa-Szostak (Master of Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge)

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge, located at 14020 Marguerite Dr. in Madeira Beach, recently took part in the Pinellas County Adopt a Teacher/Class program by adopting Mr. Dave Bostick’s 2nd Grade Classroom at Madeira Beach Fundamental School. For a donation of $150.00 an individual or business can adopt a classroom or teacher which will assist them in procuring educational items for their students. Gulf Beach Lodge also donated $100.00 to the school’s ‘student incentive program’ which is designed to provide positive reinforcement for those students who demonstrate excellence. Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge encourages individuals, organizations and businesses to consider taking part in these worthy programs and help our public school teachers accomplish their goals. Madeira Beach Fundamental School works within the fundamental guidelines, to academically challenge, stimulate creativity and increase student achievement. They do this by working collaboratively with parents and community partners and by fostering a safe and nurturing environment where students are encouraged to reach their maximum potential.

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge No. 291 was chartered in 1950 and has been an active force on the Gulf Beaches for over 71 years. Its members have included bankers, contractors, teachers, Congressmen, soldiers, pharmacists, police, firefighters, and a myriad of men from all walks of life. Freemasonry is open to men ages 18 and above and offers an opportunity to be proactive in the community as well as to be a part of a fraternity that dates back three hundred years. Some notable Freemasons were George Washington (and 15 other US Presidents), Ben Franklin, Henry Ford, Red Skelton, and General Douglas MacArthur. 

Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge, No. 291, F & A M