Individual Bios are at the bottom of the page
1949 George Clark 1950 Carl Schaefer 1951 John Palmer 1952 Kenneth Vaughn 1953 James Knowles 1954 Robert Parker 1955 Elmer Shirey 1956 Winfield Heiney 1957 George Garrett 1958 Fred Lawrence 1959 George Lewis
1960 Elmer Shirey 1961 William Voss, Jr 1962 Hugh Mullenix 1963 Dennis Smith 1964 James Robinson 1965 Thurman Kinder 1966 Paul King 1967 Eugene Nungesser 1968 Gene Mumma 1969 John Cone III 1970 Roy Saunders
1971 Barney Walker 1972 Walter Heil 1973 Rex Newman 1974 Jeff Capps 1975 James Cairns 1976 Donald Watson 1977 Thomas Cox 1978 William Gamel 1979 Thomas R. Bingham 1980 Jack Brown
1981 John Bingham 1982 David Edwards 1983 Archie Graham 1984 Ernest Freeman 1985 James Tillinghast 1986 Fred Larges 1987 Henry Zelner 1988 Mark Niceley 1989 Joe Gribbon 1990 John Henry
1991 Bill O’Brien 1992 Irven Albright 1993 Thomas C. Bingham 1994 Ralph Vaughan 1995 David Jones 1996 Howard Knapp 1997 Clarence Kennedy 1998 Robert Calhoun 1999 Doug Ashcroft 2000 Wesley Stacknik
2001 Joseph Engolia 2002 John Denehan 2003 David Webster 2004 Daniel Saltzman 2005 Craig Cramer 2006 David Brown 2007 Derryl O’Neal 2008 Dick Sansom 2009 Shawn Rae 2010 Tom Willmot
2011 Joe Finocchiaro 2012 Fernando Salazar 2013 John Anthony 2014 Mike Pagnotta 2015 Travis Palladeno 2016 Carl Moore 2017 Steve Fetherman 2018 Oscar Salazar 2019 David Neville 2020 Patrick Lynch
2021 Mark Sawa-Szostak 2022 Stephen Johnson 2023 Joseph Sosa
Past Master Bio: Fred Clark 1949
George Frederick “Fred” Clark was born on November 22nd 1889 in Moira, New York and attended school in Brooklyn where he finished his education at New York University. At an early age he entered business and finally was put in charge of a large corporation, which ultimately sold out to the Borden Company. Fred then joined the sales department of the Borroughs Adding Machine Company. Later he became an executive in the building industry, ultimately going into real estate business in Sparta, New Jersey. Wintry blasts in 1932 sent Fred and his wife to Florida where sunny climate and the beauty of the gulf beaches prevailed upon him to make this locality his permanent home. He purchased a beautiful home in 1933 on Indian Rocks and an Apartment building at 7204 Gulf Blvd. on St. Petersburg Beach. Fred became a well-known realtor on the gulf beaches and member of the St. Petersburg Realty Board, and first president of the Gulf Beach Board of Realtors. He was a charter member, and president, of the Gulf Beach Lions Club, director of the Gulf Beach Chamber of Commerce, treasurer of the Indian Rocks Beach association, member of the Clearwater Elks, member of the American Legion Post 273, Past Master (1945) of Star Lodge No. 78 in Largo, member of St. Petersburg Chapter No. 31 Royal Arch Masons, Selama Grotto, Sunshine Commandery No. 20, and Egypt Temple Shrine.
It was late in 1949 when a handful of Masons, primarily from St. Petersburg Lodge and Nitram Lodge, who were living on the gulf beaches, decided to ask the Grand Lodge for dispensation to begin a Lodge in that area. None of these Masons however had ever served as Master of a Lodge and needed to find someone with that experience to sign on as the Worshipful Master U.D. (Under Dispensation) to lead the Lodge in the process of earning a Charter. Enter Fred Clark, local gulf beach resident, Past Master of Star Lodge, and strong proponent of civic and community growth on the gulf beaches. Brother Clark, agreed to sign on and help the beach community get its own Masonic Lodge, under the name of “Gulf Beach”. To this end, it was necessary that Brother Clark agree to dimit from Star Lodge No. 78 if, or when, Grand Lodge granted a charter to Gulf Beach Lodge U.D. Brother Clark did take the reins while the Lodge was “under dispensation”, during which time the Lodge had to demonstrate that they were able to confer degrees, run the general lodge business, and confidently do what a functioning Lodge must. The Lodge did earn its Charter on April 19, 1950.
Fred Clark at this time let it be known that although he was Worshipful Master while Gulf Beach Lodge was under dispensation, he had no intent on being its first Master under full charter. The members respecting his wish elected Brother Carl Schaefer as the first Master of Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291. Fred Clark was a deacon at Church by the Sea in Madeira Beach and was instrumental in 1950 in getting the Church to allow Gulf Beach Lodge U.D. to hold their Lodge meetings there before a Temple was built and opened in 1952. Brother Clark stayed a member of Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291 until 1952 and then took a dimit back to Star Lodge No. 78.
On January 22, 1953, shortly after dimiting back to Star Lodge, Brother Clark suffered a stroke and died five months later on June 30, 1953, at age 63. Masonic services were held at Beach Memorial Funeral Home on St. Petersburg Beach by Star Lodge No. 78 assisted by Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291 and Brother Clark was laid to rest at Seminole Cemetery, 50th Ave. No & 109th Way. Brother George Frederick “Fred” Clark loved the gulf beaches and worked civically to help build a better, stronger, community. Without the direction and leadership of Fred Clark, Gulf Beach Lodge would not exist today.
Past Master Bio: Carl Schaefer 1950
Carl John Schaefer was born on January 18, 1900, in Philadelphia PA. Carl received his schooling in Philadelphia and after graduating took a job with the Pullman Rail Car Company. The Pullman Company transferred Carl to St. Petersburg in 1925 during the boom years in this city. He worked for the Pullman Company in St. Petersburg as an electrician and helped with the creation and maintenance of the “St. Petersburg Sunshine City” Pullman car that traveled through the northern states during the summer with the Roy Smith Highlander Band, which worked at spreading the word about the benefits of wintering in the “Sunshine City”. On July 2, 1925, Carl married Mrs. Pearl Harrison of this city, who was a widow, ten years his senior. Carl was Raised in Nitram Lodge No. 188 in St. Petersburg on December 4, 1947, two years before Gulf Beach Lodge sought dispensation for a charter. Carl was a charter member of Gulf Beach Lodge and as such was required to dimit from Nitram Lodge once Gulf Beach Lodge was granted its charter. Carl served as first Master of Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291. Carl died on March 25, 1986 at age 86.
Past Master Bio: John Palmer 1951
John “Scotty” Palmer, was born in Glasgow Scotland on February 23, 1894. In 1912 when John turned 18 he sailed for the United States. After getting established in Ohio John returned to Scotland and married Annie Foreland on May 4, 1916, he was 22 and she was 25. On September 18, 1926, an exceptionally warm day in Glasgow with temperatures reaching near 80 degrees, John and Annie Palmer, both 32 years old, boarded the passenger ship S.S. California in Glasgow and made their way to Ellis Island, New York, arriving September 27th, a cool, windy Monday afternoon. They both were to become naturalized citizens and took up residence in Ellet Ohio.
On May 6, 1928, while residing in Ellet Ohio, John and Annie were divorced. Shortly after his divorce from Annie John met Jean Wilde, also a recent divorcee with an 8 year old daughter, Margaret. John and Jean were married on October 6, 1928, which was also Jean’s birthday, she was 26 years old. John formally adopted Margaret soon after the wedding.
While living in Ohio John and Jean had two children, Jean May born in 1931 and Ruthe Joan born in 1934. John was employed in Akron at the Goodyear Tire Company as a freight claim agent. In 1948, after 32 years with Goodyear Tire Company, John retired due to health issues and moved his family to Florida’s sunny Gulf Beaches.
John received his Masonic Degrees at Henry Perkins Lodge No. 611 in Akron Ohio in 1922. In 1949, John took a dimit from Henry Perkins Lodge and worked at organizing Masons on the Gulf Beaches to move forward in seeking a Charter to start a new Masonic Lodge. He was a charter member of Gulf Beach Lodge and the first installed Senior Warden in 1950. At his installation as Master in 1951 he stated that his plans were to organize Rainbow and DeMolay Chapters at the Lodge and to build a Temple (the Lodge at that time was meeting at Church by the Sea). While Palmer was Master of the Lodge the Temple Association was formed to plan and build our Masonic Temple which was completed in 1952.
John Palmer was always an active member of his community and served as Summit County Ohio Township Clerk and as their Justice of the Peace. His memberships included Past Patriarch of the Odd Fellows, Past President of the American-British Progressive League, Past President of the Veterans of Yusef Khan Grotto, Secretary of the Amulet Staff, Past President and Manager of the Madeira Beach Youth Center and Past Madeira Beach Councilman. John Palmer died on May 8, 1957 at his home (Pine Acres Trailer Court in Seminole) at age 63. Masonic services were rendered by the Lodge and were held at Beach Memorial Funeral Home on St. Pete Beach. John’s body was transported to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where he is interred at the Chestnut Hill Memorial Park Cemetery
Past Master Bio: Kenneth A. Vaughn 1952
Kenneth Alonzo Vaughn was born in St. Petersburg, Florida on October 10, 1916 to Eli “Doc” Vaughn and Mary Alonzo Vaughn, being the middle child between two sisters. Ken graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1935 and excelled in sports, taking many awards. Upon graduating High School Ken took up delivering milk for the family dairy business and on July 25th 1938 ran off to North Carolina to marry his 18 year old sweet heart, Mary Charlotte Babb.
Ken’s father, known as “Doc” was elected Police Chief in St. Petersburg in 1925 and served in that capacity two different times. On October 1, 1939 Ken Vaughn, age 23, was hired as a Patrolman with the City of St. Petersburg while his father was still Police Chief. He was promoted to detective in 1944 and again to Sergeant in 1945. There was much discontent within the department regarding these promotions and some claimed that nepotism was involved. In late 1945 Ken Vaughn decided to resign the police force and go into business for himself.
In 1946 Ken purchased “Mastry’s Winter Garden Grocery” from Michael Mastry which was housed in the old Mockingbird Tea Room Building, located on the southeast corner of Central Avenue and Park Street. Shortly after the purchase of the grocery store his wife had their second child, Roger. The oldest child, Linda, was born in 1942 when Ken was still on the police department.
Shortly after the purchase of the meat market, Ken petitioned St. Petersburg Lodge No. 139 for membership and was Raised on August 12, 1947. In 1948 Ken Vaughn tried a run for the office of Pinellas County Tax Collector but lost the race.
In 1949 John Palmer, organizer of Gulf Beach Lodge, paid a visit to Vaughn’s Grocery Store and convinced Ken to sign on as a charter member of the new Lodge on Madeira Beach. The new Lodge would be much closer to his business and home. Each charter member had to agree to dimit from their mother Lodge if the charter was granted. Ken’s dimit from St. Petersburg Lodge No. 139 is dated April 20, 1950, one day after Gulf Beach Lodge was chartered.
Ken Vaughn served as the third Master of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1952. Besides being active in Masonry, Ken Vaughn was very civic minded and held memberships in the Selama Grotto, Loyal Order of Moose, Pasadena Men’s Club, St. Pete Rod & Gun Club, Chamber of Commerce, and the Florida State Cattleman’s Association.
In the 1960’s and 70’s Ken worked as a salesman, in the 1980’s he and his wife moved to Reno Nevada where he also worked in sales. In 1999 Ken moved back to St. Petersburg and entered the Masonic Home as a resident. Ken died November 29, 2002 at the age of 83. He had just reached 55 years in Freemasonry.
Past Master Bio: James A. Knowles 1953
James Albert Knowles was born in Montgomery Alabama on January 31, 1920 and attended Sidney Lanier Senior High School. Upon graduation Jim went to work for the Hill Grocery store in Montgomery and became a store manager by age 21. Jim was married on March 7, 1939, at age 19, to Cade Virginia Bruner, a local girl from Montgomery and they had a son, James Jr. in 1940. Not too long after the birth of his son James Jr. Jim and his wife were divorced. Jim remarried in Montgomery on August 14, 1943 to Margie Eleanor Haynes. World War II was in full swing by this time and on December 26, 1943 Jim, then 23 years old, enlisted in the Maritime Service and he was sent to St. Petersburg Florida for his boot camp training at the Maritime Headquarters, now the Coast Guard center. Jim’s young wife followed him to St. Petersburg and they set up housekeeping in this city. Jim excelled so much in his Maritime Training that he was promoted to gunnery instructor at the base.
After the war Jim decided to stay in St. Petersburg with his family and take up business. Post war construction was on the rise and Jim Knowles seeing an opportunity went into the construction business. Jim became one of the largest and most successful contractors in the Tampa Bay area with some of his most notable projects being the building of the St. Petersburg Clearwater Airport, the Sarasota New College Building, Manatee Junior College, University of South Florida Science and Technology Building in Tampa, the ‘new’ Bayfront Medical Center Building, Venice Sands Condos, and most of the Maximo Moorings homes, to name a few. Jim played a strong roll in the construction of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1952.
Jim Knowles took his Masonic Degrees at St. Petersburg Lodge No. 139 and he submitted a certificate as a signer for Gulf Beach Lodge UD on March 16, 1950, however had had already been sitting as Junior Deacon for many meetings. Jim did all three Masonic Lectures for the Lodge.
On December 5, 1957 Jim was remarried again to Polly Amy Gillam Martin. Jim and his new wife had become quite active in the social life of St. Petersburg attending and sponsoring many of the most elite gatherings in the city. Their waterfront home at 515 161st Avenue in Redington Beach was designed and constructed in the most modern manner known in 1960. It had a floating stair case leading to the second floor and an indoor pool surrounded by glass interior windows. Jim and his wife Polly were ‘jet-setters’ in every sense of the word. Along with other local couples they flew over 17,000 air miles which included African safari’s, trips to Egypt and Europe, as well as domestic trips to Hawaii and Alaska.
On the evening of April 8, 1972 Jim and Polly attended the Suncoasters Festival of States Coronation Ball in downtown St. Pete until after midnight. They arrived home in Redington Beach at 1:00 AM and headed to bed. Polly came downstairs at around 1:30 AM and suddenly heard a shot ring out from upstairs and upon entering the bedroom found Jim lying on the bed with a handgun in his hand and a fatal wound to the head. It was considered a suicide. Their friends who were with them hours before were astonished at the news and stated that they had no inclination that anything was amiss. The Pinellas County Medical director as well as the States Attorney Office were quoted in the St. Petersburg Times as stating that they were not convinced that it was a suicide, and due to ‘sloppy’ police work and subsequent surgery at the hospital any useful evidence was destroyed. Jim died at age 52.
Funeral services were performed at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg and his body interred at Royal Palm Cemetery located at 1st Ave. South and 58th Street in St. Petersburg. Polly Knowles remarried twice between 1972 and her death in 2007. She remained a well known and loved socialite in the area until the time of her death. Jim and Polly are interred together at Royal Palm Cemetery.
Past Master Bio: Robert C. Parker 1954
Robert Columbus Parker was born in Shelbyville Tennessee on July 26, 1910 and in his youth was called “Columbus”, after his grandfather. Bob Parker, dropped out of school in the 8th grade and became a farm laborer. Deciding that this line of work didn’t appeal to him, this 6’ 2” brown eyed, black haired lad decided to become a professional barber. While working toward becoming a barber, Bob met Irene, also from Shelbyville, and they were soon married. Bob took his Masonic Degrees at Benevolent Lodge 122 in Shelbyville Tennessee in 1937, soon after that the Parker’s packed their bags and moved to St. Petersburg, ultimately settling in a home at 11570 87th Ave. in Seminole.
Bob Parker opened a Barber Shop at 15022 Madeira Way (the Main Street) in Madeira Beach in the 1940’s and became a prominent businessman on the beaches.
Bob was an active member at the Seminole Methodist Church and was always interested in civic activities. In 1949 Bob was approached by Brother John Palmer who was contacting all Master Masons on the Gulf Beaches in hopes of chartering a new Lodge in Madeira Beach. Bob was more than happy to join this group of Masons in the formation of a new Masonic Temple and was a first-time visitor on January 26, 1950 at the Lodge while it was under dispensation, this was 7th meeting of the Lodge and he petitioned for affiliation on February 16, 1950. On February 23, 1950 Bob sat as Junior Steward at a tiled meeting. Bob became the Junior Steward of the Lodge upon its charter in 1950 and worked his way to the East by 1954.
Bob Parker was also a charter member of the Gulf Beach Chapter No 241 Order of Eastern Star and he and his wife Irene served as Worthy Matron and Patron in 1956. Besides the OES, Bob was a member of the Scottish Rite and a charter member of the Boca Ciega Scottish Rite Club that met at our Masonic Temple.
Robert C. “Bob” Parker died unexpectedly on Thursday May 21, 1964 at the age of 53. Masonic Rites were performed and Bob along with his wife are interred at Memorial Park Cemetery (Mausoleum) in St. Petersburg. Bob died on a Thursday night when Lodge was being held, 10 years after he was Master.
Bob’s widow Irene later moved into the Masonic home and died on April 15, 1989.
Past Master Bio: Elmer H. Shirey 1955 & 1960
Elmer Harry Shirey was born in Johnstown Pennsylvania on April 17, 1921. The son of a steel mill worker, this 6’ blonde haired, blue eyed lad, at age 18, started working in a foundry and at the same time spending time helping in his Uncle’s jewelry repair shop where he learned the art of watch repair.
In 1942 Elmer enlisted in the Army Air Force and was stationed in Lakeland, Florida and then in St. Petersburg. His military duties included working on airplane instrumentation, and he specialized in automatic pilot repair. Elmer met Mary Jane Rosenbaum in 1944 and they were soon married.
After the war Elmer and Mary decided to make St. Petersburg their permanent home and set up housekeeping here in 1948. In 1949 Elmer Shirey opened ‘Shirey’s Jewelry Shop & Watch Repair’ on St. Petersburg Beach located at 431 76th Avenue, which he owned and operated for nearly 40 years. By the mid-1950’s Elmer relocated his store to 537 Corey Avenue where he remained until he retired and closed the store in 1985.
In 1956 Elmer bought a house in the Azalea area at 1200 Robinson Dr. and was very active in his neighborhood, one year winning the Azalea Association’s best decorated house at Christmas. The Shirey’s lived at this address until the late 1980’s when they moved to Port Richey.
Elmer was an avid golfer and was mentioned many times in the local papers for his achievements in local tournaments.
Elmer was civically minded and interested in service organizations. In 1951 Elmer was President of the Gulf Beaches Lions Club, the same year he was Initiated, Passed and Raised in Gulf Beach Masonic Lodge. Elmer was Master of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1955. Elmer was a Lodge lecturer delivering all three degree lectures. He and his wife Mary Jane were also members of the Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241, Order of Eastern Star. Elmer was also in the Shrine and was a member of the Holiday Isle Shrine Club. Elmer Shirey is the only Master of Gulf Beach Lodge to serve twice. In 1959, John Kilpatrick was Senior Warden and slated to go to the East the next year, however, in September of 1959 Kilpatrick resigned his position at Madeira Beach Bank following questions dealing with misappropriation of funds and subsequently dropped out of the officer line. Three months later the Lodge held its annual elections, Brother Bill Voss, who was Junior Warden at the time, wasn’t quite ready to take on the East, so W:. Elmer Shirey was elected by a large majority as Worshipful Master again for 1960. After that year the line progressed in a linear manner and has done so to the present day.
Elmer Shirey passed away in Port Richey on May 2, 1998 at the age of 77.
Past Master Bio: Winfield S. Heiney 1956
Winfield Scott Heiney, named after Winfield Scott, the great American commander and General in the War of 1812, Mexican War and the early stages of the Civil War. Winfield was born in Camden New Jersey on May 25, 1906, he was 5’ 6” tall, brown hair, black eyes and weighed 150lbs. Winfield’s father died when he was a boy and he lived with his mother, often helping her handle her laundry business after school. Winfield dropped out of school in the 7th grade to go to work and help support the family. In 1930 Winfield moved to New York City and took a job with an elevator company and in 1931 married Elizabeth “Lillian” Taylor. By 1940 Winfield had packed his wife and mother and moved to St. Petersburg to escape the hustle and bustle of the big city.
During 1940 in St. Petersburg Winfield worked for an electric supply company and lived with his wife and mother. He later took on a job as an electrician for the Atlantic Coastline Railroad in St. Pete. To get back and forth from work Winfield rode his Indian motorcycle, of which he was very fond.
Winfield Heiney and Elmer Shirey (Master in 1955) took their three degrees together at Gulf Beach Lodge and were both Raised on March 29, 1951. Winfield and his wife (along with the Elmer Shirey and his wife) were members of Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 Order of Eastern Star.
Winfield was an avid freshwater fisherman. In 1966, at age 59, Winfield was fishing alone in his john boat on Lake Tsala in Apopka Florida (Citrus County). A witness at the Sleepy Hollow Fishing Camp stated that he saw Winfield lose his balance and fall out of the boat, as he fell he turned the outboard motor , causing the boat to circle and hit him. He never resurfaced. His body was found the next day by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.
Graveside Masonic funeral services were provided by Gulf Beach Lodge at Memorial Park Cemetery in St. Petersburg.
Past Master Bio: George Garrett 1957
George Garrett, the youngest of seven children, was born on a modest farm in Columbus Georgia in 1918 to Alfred and Callie Garrett. By 1920 George’s father had packed up the family and moved to Altha Florida, approximately 40 miles west of Tallahassee and then finally settled in Plant City, Florida where he took up farming. George enlisted in the US Army in December of 1940 and served in WWII being discharged in February 1944. In 1946 George moved with his wife Helen to 15314 Harbor Drive Madeira Beach. In 1949 George was appointed town Marshal for Madeira Beach and in 1951 started a plumbing business called ‘Garrett Plumbing’ which is still in existence today.
George Garrett’s brother Arnie was the first petitioner at Gulf Beach Lodge in 1950 and was the first lodge member to die on April 13, 1951. George was Initiated on December 20, 1951 (just eight months after his older brother Arnie died), Passed on February 14, 1952 and Raised on March 27, 1952. After being Raised George when right into the Officer Line at the Lodge and was Installed as Master in 1957.
George and his wife Helen were members of Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 OES and they served as Worthy Matron and Worthy Patron in 1958.
In 1960 George became the director of the local Chamber of Commerce.
George Garrett died on October 21, 1980 at the age of 62 and received full Masonic Rites at his burial. He is interred at Memorial Park Cemetery on 49th Street in St. Petersburg.
Past Master Bio: Fred G. Lawrence 1958
Fred Giles Lawrence stood 5’9” and 150 lb with brown hair and brown eyes. Fred was born on March 16, 1916 in Laurel Mississippi. In 1937 Fred, at age 21, married Ms. Nevada O. Bryant, however the marriage didn’t last and they were divorced after just a year of marriage. After the divorce Fred moved to St. Petersburg where he met Edith Vaughan, daughter of the St. Petersburg Chief of Police, whom he married in January of 1939. Edith Vaughn’s brother was Kenneth A. Vaughn, a charter member of Gulf Beach Lodge who served as the Lodge’s Master in 1952.
In 1940, at age 24, Fred was working as a motorman for the Trolley Line in St. Petersburg and was living at 334 14th St. North. In August of 1941 Fred was hired by the St. Petersburg Fire Department, however his employment was put on hold in December of 1941 when he enlisted in the Army following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Fred graduated gunnery school in Texas and then was trained as a B-29 Flight Engineer. Fred served in the War effort until his honorable discharge in 1945. When Fred returned to civilian life in St. Petersburg he took up where he left off with the St. Petersburg Fire Department and over the years worked his way up the ranks to Company Fire Captain. Fred also served as Deputy State Fire Marshal from 1961 – 1965.
Fred Lawrence was Raised in Gulf Beach Lodge on March 11, 1954 and served as Master in 1958. Fred was an active Mason in the District and was appointed District Deputy Grand Master (DDGM) in 1960, the first Past Master of Gulf Beach Lodge to serve in this capacity. Fred and his wife were active in Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 O.E.S. and he served as Associate Patron in 1959.
After retirement Fred and his wife moved to Inverness for what he hoped would be a quiet, peaceful existence. Unfortunately after WWII Fred had been treated at the VA for depression and anxiety related to his service and was on 100% disability. Little was understood or done during those years for veterans with PTSD and it was a sad day in August of 1974 when Fred Lawrence took his own life with a single gunshot. Fred received a full military, Fire Department and Masonic funeral and is buried at Royal Palm South Cemetery in St. Petersburg.
Past Master Bio: George E. Lewis Jr. 1959
George Edward Lewis Jr. was born in Brooklyn New York on September 24, 1922. His parents were immigrants from England. By age eight George’s family had moved to Hamilton County Ohio, near Cincinnati, where his father worked in the Insurance Industry. George graduated High School and attended Marietta College in Ohio, a private liberal arts college, where he was on the collegiate rowing team in 1941. George graduated from Marietta College with a degree in Physics. On August 25, 1951 George married Norma Jean Stegeman and shortly after their marriage they packed their bags and moved south to Decatur Georgia. It was in Decatur in 1952 where George took his Three Masonic Degrees at Masters Lodge No. 295.
George and Norma didn’t stay in Decatur long before moving further south to St. Petersburg in 1953 where he took employment with the local New York Life Insurance Company where he worked as an insurance underwriter for 47 years. George was honored in 1977 as the Outstanding Underwriter of the Year.
George was active at St. Vincent’s Episcopal Church where he served as a vestryman. He was also very active civically and was a member of the St. Petersburg Association of Underwriters, President of Family and Children Services, founding member and President of the Holiday Isle Civitan Club.
George affiliated with Gulf Beach Lodge on November 5, 1953 after taking a dimit from Masters Lodge in Georgia. George served as Master of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1959 and it was during his year that the Lodge’s library was begun. George delivered the Master Mason Degree Lecture for many years. For many decades following his year as Master, George served on the elections committee at Lodge where he would collect ballots during the election and read them out for the official count. George happily fulfilled this duty until his passing in 1999.
George was an avid angler and sports fan. George Lewis died at age 77 on September 8, 1999 and is interred at St. Vincent Memorial Garden.
Past Master Bio: Elmer H. Shirey 1960 (see 1955 Bio)
Past Master Bio: William R. Voss Jr. 1961
William Robert Voss Jr. was born in Pittsfield Massachusetts on June 15, 1917 to William and Olive Voss. Bill’s parents owned a variety store at Swift’s Beach in Wareham Massachusetts, very similar to Webb’s City in St. Petersburg. Their store consisted of 25 departments, an open air theater, an amusement arcade, and was touted as ‘The Most Unusual Beach Store’. By the time Bill was twenty he was owner of ‘Billy’s Gift Shop’ at his parent’s department store.
On August 14, 1942 Bill joined the United States Air Corp and was a corporal assigned as a radio technician to the Yuma Army Airfield in Yuma Arizona. This airfield was an advanced training ground for US pilots heading overseas.
After the war, in 1946, Bill’s father and mother retired to the new Harshaw neighborhood in St. Petersburg and it wasn’t long before Bill Jr., and his wife Bertha, followed them to this area. In late 1946, Bill and his wife purchased a home at 14024 N Bayshore Drive in Madeira Beach, just two blocks from the future site of Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291. From 1946 through 1955 Bill managed the Pass-a-Grille Drug Store which was owned by Joseph Clouthier, who petitioned Nitram Lodge in 1952 for the Three Degrees. In 1955 Bill asked his boss, Joe, how he could become a Mason and was directed to Gulf Beach Lodge, just blocks from Bill’s home. Bill was Initiated on April 14, 1955, Passed on January 12, 1956 and Raised on February 23, 1956. Bill’s boss, Joe, affiliated with Gulf Beach Lodge on December 15, 1960.
Bill left Pass-a-grille Drug Store in 1956 to become a sales representative for Sherman Williams Paint Stores where he stayed until his retirement.
Bill Voss has been the longest serving Secretary of Gulf Beach Lodge during its 70 year history. He served twenty terms as Secretary, first from 1962 – 1972 and again from 1974 – 1984.
Bill was extremely active in all Masonic bodies. He was a life member in Scottish Rite, a Past Watchman of Shepherds in White Shrine No. 20 (which met at Gulf Beach Lodge), Knight Crusader of the Cross of the Grand Commandery of Florida (York Rite) and member of Sunshine Commandery No. 20, Advisory Board of the Gulf Beach Chapter of DeMolay, a member of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, a member of Amaranth No. 35, a member of Selama Grotto, and Past Patron of Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241, Order of Eastern Star.
Bill died on June 11, 1985 at age 67. His Masonic Funeral was performed at Mohn Funeral Home in Seminole.
Past Master Bio: Hugh W. Mullenix 1962
Hugh Wilson Mullenix was born on a beautiful Fall day October 21, 1916 in Huntington West Virginia. His father was a machine operator at a glass plant in Huntington and his mother a homemaker. In 1918 Hugh’s family moved to Dayton Ohio to be nearer his grandparents. During the depression times were tough for the Mullenix family and in 1930 Hugh had to go live with his Grandparents. Hugh’s grandfather was a foreman at Dayton Manufacturing Company and more financially equipped to care for 14 year old Hugh. In 1937, at age 21, Hugh married Ms. Bette Jane Muller, aged 19. From 1937 to 1940 Hugh was making his living as a City bus driver in Cincinnati Ohio. In 1940 Hugh took a job with the Cincinnati Police Department as a patrolman. In 1948 Hugh and his wife Bette were divorced and shortly thereafter he was remarried to his second wife, Alma Gajus. By 1953 Hugh and Alma had relocated to Madeira Beach to make a new start.
By 1955 Hugh was residing at 822 Bay Point Dr in Madeira Beach and was working as a Patrolman for Madeira Beach as well as one of their Volunteer Firefighters.
After two years Hugh left Madeira Beach Police Department to work as a Police Security Officer for the General Electric Corporation. In 1956 Hugh received the Insular Certificate of Merit for Law Enforcement.
Hugh Mullenix took his Masonic Degrees at Gulf Beach Lodge and was Initiated on April 25, 1957, Passed on June 27, 1957 and Raised on September 12, 1957. Hugh held the elected office of Treasurer of the Lodge in 1958 three months after being Raised.
Hugh was an active member of Church by the Sea, where many of our Lodge members attended in the 1950’s. He was an avid bowler and held many league awards.
Hugh was very active in the community as well as within the fraternity. He served as Worthy Patron of Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 OES, he was a Scottish Rite Mason (Valley of Tampa), a member of Egypt Temple Shrine, a member of the Boca Ciega Scottish Rite Club, a member of the Holiday Isle Elks and a member of the American Legion post 273.
Hugh died suddenly and unexpectedly on September 27, 1967 at age 50. His Masonic services were performed at Seminole Beach Funeral Home. Hugh’s wife, Alma, passed away on Christmas Eve 1999 in Madeira Beach, thirty-two years after Hugh’s passing.
Past Master Bio: Dennis E. Smith 1963
Dennis Earl Smith was born to Dennis Earl Smith Sr. and Kathryn Brown on a steamy Sunday morning in Hyde Park Tampa, August 28, 1932. In 1933, when 18 months old, Dennis was voted the ‘cutest baby in Tampa’ by the German-American Club. Dennis’s father, a member of Hillsborough Lodge No. 25 and a Shriner, managed an A&P Grocery Store in Tampa until 1940 when he moved the family to Madeira Beach and opened Smith’s Food Store at 13195 Gulf Blvd. The family lived on the premises. During this same time period Dennis’s father opened Smith’s Fish Camp on Lake Seminole.
It should be noted that although Dennis’s father was also “Dennis Earl Smith”, (our) Dennis went by “Sr.” after he had a son who was also named “Dennis Earl Smith”. This Dennis Earl Smith Jr. (son of our Past Master) just passed away in 2019.
In the late 1940’s Dennis attended secondary-college prep school at the Georgia Military School (later to become Georgia Military College) in Milledgeville Georgia and graduated with honors in 1950. In 1951 Dennis attended the University of Florida in Gainesville. Before completion of degree work at UF Dennis joined the US Air Force and served in the Korean War. In 1953 he was awarded the Air Medal, which is a military decoration of the United States Armed Forces. It was created in 1942 and is awarded for single acts of heroism while participating in aerial flight. Dennis received this award for “his part in far-reaching B-29 strikes against Communist military targets in North Korea. By his courage, fortitude and desire to aid the United Nations’ cause, Airman Smith has brought great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Forces and the United States Air Force”. Upon receiving this award Dennis had completed 18 combat missions.
After service in the Korean War Dennis returned to Madeira Beach and took a job with the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). It wasn’t long until he met Ms. Virginia Lee Wenning and the two were married on August 24, 1954. They had three children, Dennis Jr., Jacob and Lynn.
In 1958 Dennis’s father, aged 51, died tragically while fishing from his boat on Lake Seminole. A man on shore saw the boat running in circles with nobody on board. After many hours of dragging the lake the Sheriff’s Department found the body.
Dennis Smith was initiated and Entered Apprentice at Gulf Beach Lodge on December 20, 1959, Passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft on April 9, 1959 and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on May 14, 1959.
Dennis followed in his father’s footsteps by owning and/or managed grocery stores.
In 1984 Dennis and his wife moved to Lake Panasoffkee where he opened the Red and White Food Store. On June 15, 1988, after thirty-four years of marriage, Dennis’s wife Virginia died. On November 29, 1991 Dennis was remarried to Marjorie, who went by “Margie B”
Dennis died on June 27, 1999 at age 66. His Masonic Funeral services were conducted by Gulf Beach Lodge Chaplain, Donald T. Harriott, and the Lodge funeral team. Interment was at Memorial Park in St. Petersburg.
Past Master Bio: James P. Robertson 1964
James Paul Robertson was born on March 12, 1927 to James Sanford Robertson, a dairyman, and Grace Green Robertson, a homemaker. He was the second of five children and was described on his WWII draft card as being blonde haired, blue eyed and a ruddy complexion. James attended public schools in Springfield Massachusetts and on May 11, 1945, two months after turning 18, joined the US Navy, serving only a month due to an injury in basic training.
James went to work in 1946 as a mechanic in Springfield and soon married his first wife Christine.
In 1948 James took his Masonic Degrees at Samuel D. Sherwood Lodge in Springfield with his EA Degree on November 11, 1948, FC Degree on January 18, 1949 and MM Degree on February 25, 1949.
He and his wife Christine lived in Springfield until their divorce in 1957 when James moved to the Gulf Beaches in Florida for a new start. One of his first priorities when arriving in Florida was to seek a Masonic Lodge and he found Gulf Beach Lodge to be nearby and friendly. James dimitted from Samuel D. Sherwood Lodge on June 24, 1957 and affiliated with Gulf Beach Lodge on February 6, 1958.
James worked as an independent truck driver locally and in 1958 remarried to Rose E. Stancil. James served as Master of the Lodge in 1964 which was the year the Lodge paid off its mortgage. James’ Masters project was to raise funds to pay off the balance of the mortgage and to hold a mortgage burning celebration at the Lodge. On October 29th the Lodge held an official ‘mortgage burning’ with 220 members of all bodies and many dignitaries present. The evening was a great success.
In 1970 James and Rose moved to Ware Shoals, South Carolina and James took a dimit from Gulf Beach Lodge to Brewerton Lodge No. 183. He and Rose lived in Ware Shoals until 1976 when they moved back to Florida and settled in Dunnellon. James passed away on March 20, 2001 at age 74 and is buried at Hickory Creek Cemetery in Marion County Florida.
Past Master Bio: Thurman E. Kinder 1965
Thurman Edward “Ed” Kinder was born on July 15, 1914 in Cabell West Virginia to Elisha and Georgia Kinder, he was the oldest of three children. Times were not easy for the Kinder family while Ed was growing up in Peytona West Virginia where his father was a laborer in a local sawmill and later worked as a coal miner.
On June 15, 1935, at age 21, Ed married Ms. Gertrude Easter and they had a daughter in 1937. By 1938 Ed was divorced and living back with his parents along with his one year old daughter Gloria. During this period Ed was a construction worker in the coal mine at Peytona.
Ed served in the US Army during WWII and married Mary Gately on October 4, 1943. After the war Ed worked as a radio operator for the Merchant Marines. In 1948 Ed and Mary moved to Tampa where they bought a home at 3314 Sevilla Cir.
Ed became a Mason at Community Lodge No. 292 in Tampa, he was Initiated an EA on February 15, 1960, Passed on April 4, 1960 and Raised on May 2, 1960. On February 16, 1961 Ed dimitted to Gulf Beach Lodge as he was planning a move to Largo. Upon arriving in Largo, Ed immediately became active at Gulf Beach Lodge and served as Master in 1965.
Ed retired from General Electric in Largo in 1978 with twenty five years of service.
Upon retiring Ed and Mary moved to a beautiful mountain home in Blairsville Georgia. Ed filled his time in retirement with gardening and being a ham radio operator, two of his passions in life. After a time in the mountains Ed and Mary moved back to the warmer climate of Florida and landed in New Port Richey. After 62 years of marriage Mary died on September 1, 2005 in New Port Richey. Ed died October 2, 2011, six years later, aged 97 years. Masonic Funeral services were performed by Gulf Beach Lodge and held at Dobies Funeral Home in New Port Richey.
Past Master Bio: Paul N. King 1966
Paul Norman King was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania on May 4, 1938 to Norman and Ruth King. Paul’s father worked for the telephone company and Ruth was a homemaker. Paul’s father was also a Freemason in Pennsylvania and in later years was a frequent visitor at Gulf Beach Lodge.
Paul attended Bellevue High School in Pittsburgh where he took part in many school activities. Upon Paul’s graduation in 1956 the King family moved to Florida. Upon arrival in the area Paul, following in his father’s footsteps, took a job with GTE (General Telephone). Paul stayed with General Telephone for 37 years retiring in 1993.
Also, following in his father’s footsteps, in 1961 at age 24, Paul joined Gulf Beach Lodge taking his EA Degree on April 13, 1961, his FC Degree on May 10, 1961 and his MM Degree on June 22, 1961. Five years later, at age 28, Paul became the youngest Master to serve Gulf Beach Lodge. As of this writing (in 2020) and after 70 years of Lodge existence, Paul is still the youngest Mason to have served as Master of our Lodge. He is also the most senior living Past Master of Gulf Beach Lodge.
Paul married his first wife, Anita, and they had three children. Paul and Anita were divorced in 1979 and Paul married Patricia Woodard in 1983. Paul has two grand daughters and three great grandchildren.
Paul and his wife spend their retirement years between their home in Seminole and a mountain home in Blue Ridge Georgia.
Paul has always been very active in Masonry as well as in the Community. He served as District 19 Chairman of Let Your Pennies Make Good Cents. He served as a project manager during the building of the new Tampa International Airport. Paul served as a lobbyist in Tallahassee and Washington DC. In 1968 Paul was Co-Chairman of the Ms. Seminole Pageant, he is a member and Past President of the Seminole Rotary, he served on the Board of Directors of Abilities of Florida, and a Past President of the Seminole Chamber of Commerce. In 1990 Paul was named Mr. Seminole by the City of Seminole. Paul served for 25 years as Director of Operations for the Senior Golf Tour and Champions Tour at the Tournament Players Club in Tampa. He also served on the Executive Committees of the JC Penney and GTE Golf Classics. Paul is currently the Locker Room Chairman for the Valspar Championship Tour at Innisbrook.
In 1993 Paul received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Association of Community Leadership and served as President of Leadership Pinellas.
Paul received his 50 year Masonic Service Award in 2011 and in 2021 will receive his 60 Award.
Past Master Bio: Eugene M. Nungesser 1967
Eugene Marion Nungesser was born on November 19, 1909 in Cleveland Ohio to Eli and Emma Nungesser. Gene’s father was a streetcar motorman for the City of Cleveland. Gene did his schooling in Cleveland and after completing his second year in High School he dropped out and took a job as an order clerk with a local lumber company.
During WWII Eugene moved to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where he took up work as a tool and die maker for Superior Valves and Fittings Company and where he met Harriet Elizabeth Lindsay who he would later marry. Harriett was born of Irish immigrants, her mother and father having come from Northern Ireland.
In 1957 Gene and Harriet packed their car and with their kids, relocated to St. Petersburg where he had accepted a job with the International Resistance Company (IRC) later to merge with TRW Inc. This company manufactured components for governmental and aerospace projects. IRC was located under the Tyrone Blvd overpass in the Tyrone Park Industrial area. In 1961 Gene was appointed to the Executive Board of the Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union, local 1978, which covered employees at IRC. He served in this capacity for many years.
Gene took his Masonic degrees at Gulf Beach Lodge in 1959. He was initiated on January 8th, Passed of February 5th, and Raised on March 26th which shows that he obviously had a head for memorization. Gene was active in many other Masonic bodies including Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 OES where he and his wife were both members.
In 1975, at age 66, Gene retired and began to do what he loved most, which was to facet (cut and shape) replicas of famous diamonds. Gene was a member of the Suncoast Mineral and Gem Society as well as the Anclote Earth Science Club and the Pinellas Geological Society. In 1985 the St. Pete Times ran a full-page article on Gene and his gemstone work.
Gene died on March 11, 1994 at age 84. His wife Harriet passed January 12, 2000. Gene’s Masonic Funeral was performed by Gulf Beach Lodge and held at Mohn Funeral Home in Seminole.
Funeral was performed by Gulf Beach Lodge and held at Mohn Funeral Home in Seminole.
Past Master Bio: Gene K. Mumma 1968
Gene Kimble Mumma was born on August 16, 1931 in Cambridge Ohio to William and Jane Mumma and was the oldest of five children. This was the height of the great depression and times were tough for Gene’s family. Gene’s father was an auto mechanic and not making enough money to support the family on his own, so they moved in with Gene’s grandparents who were already housing Gene’s Uncle, also an auto mechanic. Gene’s grandfather was a local blacksmith in Cambridge.
Gene attended school in Cambridge and during High School was active with the sound and lighting crew during school plays and productions. He graduated from Cambridge High School in 1949 with the High School Yearbook nickname “Brains”. The Yearbook also listed his aspiration as being an “Automotive Engineer”.
After graduation Gene enlisted in the US Navy and served in the Korean War. It was in the Navy that Gene received training that later would help him toward his career as an electrical engineer.
After his tour of duty in the Korean War Gene moved to Columbus Ohio where he took classes in electrical engineering and where he also met and married Barbara Donohoe. Gene and Barbara were married until the time of her death on January 9, 2015. Gene and Barbara had two children, Jodelle, and David.
In the late 1950’s Gene moved to St. Petersburg to fill a position as an electrical engineer at the new General Electric Plant which was being built in Largo.
Gene took his Masonic Degrees at Gulf Beach Lodge in 1962. He was Initiated on April 26th, Passed on May 24th and Raised on June 28th. It is obvious from the short time between degrees that Gene had a head for memory work and a desire to excel in his degree work.
Gene spent many years caring for his wife Barbara while she suffered from Alzheimer’s. He was a devoted and loving husband and sacrificed to stay home and care for his wife. Barbara died in 2015. Two years later, on July 7, 2017, Gene passed away, aged 85 years. Gene’s funeral service was held at Sylvan Abbey in Clearwater.
Past Master Bio: John R. Cone III 1969
John Randolph “Dolph” Cone III, Master of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1969, a fourth generation Floridian was born February 12, 1936 in White Springs Florida (on the banks of the Suwannee River) to John R. Cone Jr. and Ruth Jones Cone. John’s mother was a homemaker and his father worked mainly in road construction throughout Florida which caused the family to move frequently. During WWII John and his family lived in Georgia where his father worked building military airstrips and later Liberty Ships.
In 1950 John’s family moved to Tampa where his father had secured a job with a road contractor. This would turn out to be the last move for the family.
John attended Hillsborough High School where he was a 1953 graduate. He attended the University of Tampa for one year and then transferred to the University of Florida where he earned a pharmacy degree. In August of 1957, while still in Pharmacy school, John married Ms. Patricia Lee Andrew of St. Cloud, Florida. John and Pat had three children, Lori Lee, Robert Mathew and Randolph Andrew.
From June of 1958 to April 1960 John worked in Delray Beach, Florida. His employer (and mentor) was a Mason who introduced John to Freemasonry. His boss kept a small box on a shelf in the pharmacy work area marked “Let Your Cents Help the Masonic Home”. There was a small lunch counter in the pharmacy and when salesmen would come in and offer to buy his boss a .25 cent cup of coffee, he would decline and say “give me the .25 cents instead and I will donate it to the Masonic Home of Florida in St. Petersburg.” At the end of the year, he had many quarters to convert to dollars and send to the Masonic Home.
In 1960 John moved to Pinellas County to accept a position at the Madeira Rexall Drug Store in Madeira Beach, which he later purchased. The store also had a small lunch counter and one day while sitting at the counter he met a man who was wearing a Masonic ring. He asked this man how he could become a Mason and the man answered that he would be back in touch with him. The next day the man returned with a petition for Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291.
John took his EA Degree at Gulf Beach Lodge on June 8, 1961, was Passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft on July 27, 1961 and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on August 24, 1961. John was Master of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1969, the year man first stepped foot on the Moon. John received his 55-year service award in 2016 and should receive his 60-year award in 2021.
John finally retired from Pharmacy work in January of 2020 with over 60 years of service.
Past Master Bio: Roy Saunders 1970
Roy Saunders was born on March 19, 1907 in Detroit Michigan. Roy decided in 1951, at age 44, that he and his wife Irene should leave Detroit and move to the sunny south. Roy and Irene arrived in Pinellas County in 1951 and moved into a house a mere three blocks from the Lodge on Miramar Ave. Roy became owner of the Madeira Beach Paint store.
On July 4, 1962 Roy’s wife Irene (age 44) died unexpectedly. Six months later Roy petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge for the Three Symbolic Degrees. Roy was Initiated in Gulf Beach Lodge on February 28, 1963; Passed on April 25, 1963 and Raised May 23, 1963.
During the late 1960’s Roy met Jessie Carlin, a widow whose husband had died in 1957. Roy and Jessie were married in 1969, a year before Roy became Master of Gulf Beach Lodge. Roy and Jessie were both active in Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 O.E.S. Roy’s Masters Project in 1970 was the start of the Lodge’s Building Fund, which is still a healthy fund to this day. Roy was past president of the Boca Ciega Scottish Rite Club and a member of Selama Grotto.
Roy Saunders died on November 28, 1990 at age 83. His Masonic Funeral was held at Mohn Funeral Home in Seminole and Roy was interred at Memorial Park Cemetery. Following Roy’s death Jessie moved into the Masonic Home where she lived until she passed away on September 26, 2001 at the ripe age of 96.
Past Master Bio: Barney E. Walker 1971
Barney Earl Walker was born on December 4, 1917 in Morgan City, Louisiana to Florence and Frank Walker. As a young man Barney was described as tall, standing 6’ 3” with a ruddy complexion, gray eyes, and brown hair. Barney was the youngest of three children, having two older brothers. By 1930 the family had relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana where Barney attended Arsenal Technical High School (from 1864 – 1912 the Arsenal was a munitions arsenal, later becoming a High School. In 1976 it was placed on the National Registry of Historic places). Barney graduated from Arsenal Technical High School in 1934 with a graduating class of 1000.
After graduation Barney took a job as a salesman for the Sargent – Gerke Paint Company. While working for the paint company Barney met a young waitress by the name of Kathryn Irene Drager and soon the two had fallen for each other and were married in 1940.
In 1944 Barney petitioned Evergreen Lodge No. 713 in Indianapolis for the Three Symbolic Degrees. He received his EA Degree on March 23, 1944, his FC Degree April 7, 1944, and his MM Degree April 21, 1944, in less than a month Barney had completed all three degrees. Barney went on to join Sahara Grotto in Indianapolis taking an active officer roll.
Barney and his wife Kathryn spent the next twenty-five years raising their family in Indianapolis. At age 48 Barney and Kathryn decided to retire to Florida and moved to Madeira Beach buying a home on Pruitt Dr., just one block from Gulf Beach Lodge. The first thing Barney did when he settled into his new home was to seek out the Lodge where he transferred his membership on December 16, 1965. One year later Barney was installed as Senior Steward (1967) and progressed up the line until reaching Master in 1971. It was during Barney’s year as Master that the Lodge purchased the Winding Stairs carpet that is still used today in our Fellow Craft Degree. Barney and his wife Kathryn were active in Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 O.E.S where Barney served as Worthy Patron. Barney was also a member of Scottish Rite and the Shrine.
Locally Barney sold Real Estate and leased office space at 222 150th Ave in Madeira Beach. He was also an avid bowler holding many long-standing records in Indianapolis. Besides bowling he enjoyed fishing and spent many hours testing the waters off Madeira Beach.
Barney and Kathryn moved away from the beaches in the 1980’s and ended up in Brooksville, by way of Inverness. Barney Earl Walker died in Brooksville on October 10, 1996 at age 78, he was survived by his wife Kathryn and son James. A Masonic Funeral was performed in Brooksville by Gulf Beach Lodge.
Past Master Bio: Walter J. Hiel 1972
Walter Jacob Hiel was born in Trenton New Jersey on January 30, 1925 to John and Catherine Hiel. Walter’s parents immigrated from Yugoslavia in 1904 and Walter’s father became a machinist in Trenton. Walter attended grade school in Trenton and like most boys in 1942 couldn’t wait to sign up for the service in WWII. Walter dropped out of High School at age 17 and enlisted in the US Army on August 13, 1942, serving until November 30, 1945.
Walter returned to Trenton after the war and finished his schooling after which he moved to Brooklyn NY. Walter used his GI bill and enrolled in Rider College, New Jersey, where he earned a BS Degree in Business Administration in 1948. Walter got his first taste of fraternalism in college as a member of Kappa Phi.
Walter took a position with Fair Lawn Radburn Trust Co. in Passaic NJ and by 1960 had made his way to Assistant Vice-President.
In 1961 Walter married Maryanne Roebling and they soon had a daughter Ruth.
In 1964 Walter moved his family to St. Petersburg where he took a Vice-President position with the National Bank of St. Petersburg, located at 1000 Tyrone Blvd.
It was in March of 1966 that Walter petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge No. 291 for the Three Symbolic Degrees. He was Initiated on April 16, 1966; Passed on June 23, 1999; and Raised on October 27, 1966. Two months after being Raised a Master Mason, Walter was installed Junior Steward, and his trek to the East was begun. Walter was also a member of the Scottish Rite and was in Kiwanis.
While moving through the officer chairs, Walter stayed busy professionally. He helped found, and served as President of, the Florida State Bank in St. Petersburg.
In 1973, just after his year as Master of the Lodge, Walter was named President and CEO of the Pinellas State Bank. This same year Walt, an avid golfer, opened Walt’s Golf Shop in Largo. In 1978 he also opened a Laundry on Keene Rd in Largo. In 1984 Walter opened a new Golf Shop at 1250 Seminole Blvd with his daughter Ruth.
Walter Jacob Hiel died October 15, 1992 at age 67. He was buried with Masonic and Military Rites at Bay Pines National Cemetery. His wife Maryanne died on December 2, 2008.
Past Master Bio: Rex I. P. Newman 1972
Rex Inigo Pemberton Newman was born in Wales on October 4, 1912 to Joseph a wagon builder who also worked in a steel mill and his wife Violet. Rex arrived at Ellis Island New York aboard the RMS Cedric, part of the White Star Line, with his parents on August 4, 1924 at age 12.
The Newman’s ended up in Youngstown Ohio where Rex attended grade school. While in Youngstown Rex met Eleanor Jeanette, two years his senior, and they were married May 5, 1935. By 1940 Rex and Eleanor were living with his parents and he was working as a foreman for a steel works company.
Rex and Eleanor lived in Youngstown Ohio where they raised their two daughters, Edie and Jean.
In 1958, at age 46, Rex and his family (including his parents) left Youngstown and moved to St. Petersburg where he opened and ran Newman’s Grocery on Madeira Beach.
In 1959 Rex’s father Joe, a member of Alban’s Lodge No. 677 in Youngstown, dimitted to Gulf Beach Lodge. Six years later, in 1965, Rex approached his father about becoming a Mason, and his Masonic career began.
Rex was initiated on December 2, 1965, Passed on March 24, 1966 and Raised on April 28, 1966. Rex’s father was present (and Raised) Rex at his MM Degree. One month later Rex’s father passed away.
Rex began working his way through the chairs at Lodge and became Master in 1973. His Masters project was to remodel the downstairs fellowship hall.
Rex Newman died on June 1, 1994 at age 81 and is interred at Garden Sanctuary in Seminole. Masonic services were rendered by the Gulf Beach Memorial Association.
Past Master Bio: Jefferson DeR Capps 1974
Jefferson De Rosenroll Capps was born in Cleburne Texas on August 8, 1924. Jeff’s father, William, was a Deputy County Clerk and his mother Richelda De Rosenroll Capps was a housewife. Jeff went through grade school in Cleburne and graduated from Cleburne High School in 1942. While in High School Jeff was active in the High School drama club and the band. Jeff then attended the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas and graduated in 1943. Immediately upon graduating he enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army and served in combat in the Pacific theater. By the end of the war Jeff had reached the rank of Major and decided to make a career out of the service. During the Korean War (1950) Jeff served with the 24th Division in Reconnaissance. From 1952-1954 he was assigned to train the York National Guard 2nd Bat. 104th Armored Cavalry Regiment at York Pa.
Jeff was awarded the Bronze Star with V device and Oak Leaf Cluster, Japanese Occupation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, American Defense Ribbon, Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon, Korean Campaign Ribbon and three battle stars.
In 1947 Doris Ann Sargent (who went by Dorann) went with her parents to Japan where her father, Geoffrey W Sargent, served as Governor of Kyushu during the occupation years. It was shortly after she had arrived in Kyushu that she met Jeff who was assigned to duty there. They soon fell in love and were married in Japan in 1948. During the Korean War Dorann remained in Japan and was a volunteer for the Red Cross.
Jeff’s father-in-law retired in 1955 and purchased a home on the Gulf Beaches. In 1957 Jeff had decided that he was ready to leave military service after a final four-year tour in Germany and after 15 years of service he returned to civilian life. Jeff and Dorann came to visit her parents here in 1957 and they loved the area (not to mention the proximity to her parents) and decided to settle here in 1960.
Jeff earned a law degree from Stetson Law School in 1963 and opened a practice in St. Peterburg. One highlight of Jeff’s law career was litigating and winning a US Supreme court case.
In September of 1965 Jeff petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge for the Three Degrees and was Initiated on October 14, 1965, Passed on December 23, 1965 and Raised January 27, 1966. Jeff was a Scottish Rite and York Rite Mason. Jeff was appointed District Deputy Grand Master in 1982. In 1986 the sitting District Deputy Grand Master, Danny Harris, died unexpectedly and Jeff was appointed to finish that Masonic year as DDGM. He is the only DDGM in our District who ever served a second term, albeit a partial one.
Jeff was active in the community being a member of the Exchange Club, President of the Tides Tennis Club, and member of the Redington Beach Bath Club among many other involvements.
In 1998 Jeff’s wife Dorann passed away after 50 years of marriage and having raised two daughters together. R∴W∴ Jefferson DeR Capps passed away on August 8, 2005 and was buried with Masonic and Military honors at Bay Pines.
Past Master Bio: James D. Cairns Jr. 1974
James Donaldson Cairns Jr. was born on August 29, 1920 in Westbrook Maine. James was the second oldest of six children. His father, a Scottish born machinist, worked in a factory in Westbrook but later had turned to retail sales. James spent just two years in High School and at age 19 (1940) dropped out to take a job as a delivery truck driver. On October 23, 1942 (at age 22) James enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and served throughout the war as a heavy equipment operator. Once released from active-duty James returned to Westbrook where he married Ms. Doris Eileen Shaw in 1947 and the two had a son, James III as well as her two sons from a previous marriage.
James and his family lived in Westbrook until his mother died in 1956 when they decided to move to Florida where James took a job with the city of St. Petersburg as a heavy equipment operator. Not too long after coming to Florida James and Doris were divorced. James would later married Wilma Jean Anderson.
James petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge in 1968 and was Initiated on December 12, 1968; Passed on January 23, 1969, and Raised on February 27, 1969. James immediately started his advancement through the officer line of the Lodge and in 1975 was installed as Worshipful Master.
In 1977 James and his wife Wilma moved to Lorida (near Sebring, Florida) where he lived until he passed away on June 4, 1993, at age 72. James is buried at Basinger Cemetery in Okeechobee. James’ wife Wilma passed away on May 22, 2012.
Past Master Bio: Donald E. Watson 1976
Donald Eugene Watson was born May 26, 1926, in Hickory Grove South Carolina, a small farm town with a 1930 population of 310. Donald, and his five brothers and sisters, worked the farm alongside their mother and father. Donald attended Hickory Grove schools and graduated in 1943 enlisting immediately in the US Navy. Donald served in active duty from 1944 – 1946 in the South Pacific. Upon receiving his honorable discharge Don attended the University of South Carolina and then took a job at the Orange Hosiery Textile Mill in Efland North Carolina. It was there that Don met Elsie Carolyn Crisp who was also employed at the Mill, and the two were soon married. They had three children, Donna, Phillip and Gary.
In 1959 Don moved his family to St. Petersburg and in 1965 Don and Carolyn were divorced. In 1970 Don petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge for the Three Degrees and took his EA Degree on June 11th, his FC on September 10th and his MM on October 29th. Don immediately entered the officer chairs working his way to Master in 1976. In 1978 Don’s son Gary tragically lost his life in a traffic accident, he was 27 years old. It wasn’t long after this that Don moved back to Burlington North Carolina where he lived until the time of his death on May 18, 2010, just shy of his 84th birthday
Past Master Bio: Thomas L. Cox 1977
Thomas Leon Cox was born on November 25, 1933, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, to Everett and Martha Cox. Tom was the sixth of eight children. Tom’s father Everette worked for the B&W Tube Mill in Beaver Falls. Tom graduated from Beaver Falls High School in 1952. On February 26, 1954, at age 20, Tom enlisted in the US Air Force and served in Korea, he was honorably discharged on October 21, 1957. In August of 1958 Tom married Delana Kudlicka, the marriage lasted until their divorce in June of 1968. Tom had taken a job with Honeywell where he met his second wife Linda and the two soon were married. It was Linda’s brother, Tom Loutitt, who introduced Tom to Freemasonry and paved the way for Tom to petition Gulf Beach Lodge in 1971. Tom was Initiated on April 29, 1971; Passed on June 10, 1971 and Raised on September 23, 1971. After being Raised Tom went immediately into the officer chairs working his way to Master in 1977. He dedicated his year as Master to Brother Tom Loutitt (who died in 1975) who was instrumental in Tom’s entrance to Masonry.
Tom served the Lodge, District and State in many capacities over his years in Masonry. He earned many proficiency cards, chaired many District and Zone Committees, was proficient in the EA Lecture and Lambskin Poem, was a Scottish Rite and York Rite Mason, was Lodge Secretary from 1993 – 1995, was Treasurer in 1999, was a perpetual member, and was appointed in 2000 by Grand Master Louis King to be District Deputy Grand Master of our District.
Tom loved spending time with his family and adored his daughters Linda and Melanie. He loved fishing and woodworking and made several handcrafted wooden items for the Lodge which still hang in the Lodge room. Rarely seen without a cigar and beaming smile, Tom never knew a stranger. Tom passed away on January 2, 2006, at age 72 and was buried at the Bay Pines National Cemetery with full Masonic and Military honors.
Past Master Bio: William P. Gamel 1978
William “Bill” Philip Gamel, Master of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1978, was born in Hamilton Ohio on March 13, 1943. When Bill was 2 years old his family moved to Florida. Bill graduated from Northeast High School in St. Petersburg in 1961, and attended St. Pete Junior College, graduating with an A.S. Degree in 1963. Bill decided that Mortuary studies would be his major and attended Cincinnati College of Mortuary Sciences where he earned his B.S. Degree. After graduating college Bill took a job locally with Prevatt Memorial Funeral Home. He then married his High School sweetheart, Ms. Ann Leilani Larkin, who was a local school teacher. Their wedding was held at Pasadena Community Church on December 15, 1967. The marriage lasted only a year before Bill and Ann divorced. Bill met Ms. Carol King, a nurse, and the two were married July 18, 1970. Bill moved from Prevatt Funeral Home to Woodlawn Mortuary on Belcher Rd.
Bill and Carol had two children, Christopher, and Natalie.
It was in 1972 that Bill decided to petition Gulf Beach Lodge for membership and was Initiated on June 8, 1972; Passed on September 14, 1972 and Raised on October 26, 1972. Bill went immediately into the officer line and was elected Master of the Lodge for 1978.
In 1979 Bill and Carol were divorced and on June 20, 1980, he married Louisa Wiggins. Bill and Louisa moved to Pasco County where Bill became active in the Kiwanis of West Pasco. Bill was divorced from Louisa in 1984 and married again to Karen Cuff.
William “Bill” Philip Gamel died on February 23, 2011, at the age of 68. Bill was buried at Meadowlawn Memorial Gardens in New Port Richey following a Masonic Service.
Past Master Bio: Thomas R. Bingham 1979
Thomas Rudolph Bingham was born on June 22, 1941, in Cleveland Ohio to John and Gertrude Bingham. His father was a police officer for the city of Cleveland and his mother a secretary for the same department. Tom was the eldest of four sons born to John and Gertrude. At age 14 Tom became a member of Bedford Chapter of DeMolay while he was attending Bedford High School, where he graduated in 1959. Following graduation Tom joined the US Navy and spent four years on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt aircraft carrier. He spent two additional years in the Naval Reserve aboard the USS Greenwood, a Buckley-class Destroyer Escort. In 1961, while serving aboard the Franklin D. Roosevelt, Tom married Ms. Marianne Decker, a recent Northeast High School (St. Pete) graduate who was working at the time at the General Telephone Co. The two were blessed with two sons, Thomas C. and Bryan A., both members of DeMolay and Gulf Beach Lodge (Thomas C. serving as Master in 1993).
In 1963 Tom was hired as the 4000th employee at the Honeywell Aeronautical division as a detail draftsman. During this period Tom was attending classes at St. Petersburg Junior College. In 1965 Tom joined Florida Power Corporation and spent the next 35 years there. In 1973 Tom was promoted to Manager of Generation Services and retired as Bartow Plant’s Maintenance Superintendent.
In 1974 Tom petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge for the degrees and was Initiated on September 12, 1974, Passed on October 24, 1974 and Raised on December 12, 1974. The following year Tom’s father John Henry Bingham, affiliated with Gulf Beach Lodge from Hart’s Grove Lodge No. 397, Hartsgrove, OH. Tom started right into the officer chairs after being Raised and became Chapter Dad for DeMolay at Gulf Beach Lodge from 1975 – 1978. In 1977 Tom, as a Senior DeMolay, received the Degree of Chevalier which is the highest honor that can be granted for outstanding DeMolay activity. Also, in 1977 he became a Scottish Rite Mason and a member of Egypt Temple Shrine. In 1978 Tom received the DeMolay Legion of Honor and was presented the DeMolay Cross of Honor. In 1979 Tom was elected Master of our Lodge and his Master’s project was to remodel the Lodge kitchen. From 1980 – 1988 Tom served as Dad Advisor for our DeMolay Chapter. It was also in 1980 that Tom served as President of the Master’s and Warden’s Association for the 19th Masonic District. From 1982 – 1985 Tom served as District 19 Masonic Youth Chairman and from 1985-86 was the District 19 Chairman for Perpetual Memberships. In 1986 Tom served as Worthy Patron of Gulf Beach Chapter No. 241 O.E.S. In 1989 he earned his green proficiency card and in 1994 became one our first Perpetual Members.
In 2006 Tom joined Morning Star Lodge No 94 in Ocklawaha, Florida, as a plural member and served as their Master in 2011. He is the only Master of our Lodge to have served as Master of another Lodge after his time in the East. In 2007 Tom was appointed scribe for the Ocala Shrine Club where he served in that capacity for 10 years. In 2008 Tom became a charter member of the Ocala Shrine Legion of Honor and served twice as Commander of Unit and served the past 13 years as Adjutant and Financial officer. From 2012 – 2014 Tom served as District 15 (Marion Co.) Chairman for Masonic Youth and Perpetual Memberships.
Tom continues to live with his wife Marianne in Ocklawaha and enjoys spending time with his boys and his grandchildren.
Past Master Bio: Jack D. Brown 1980
Jack Dale Brown was born on December 8, 1924, in Portland Oregon, the middle child of Oaf and Merle Brown. The day before Jack’s 17th birthday, December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked. Jack finished out the school year, and on August 8, 1942, he joined the US Navy where he served as a Coxswain until his discharge on October 25, 1945. It was on September 3, 1944 (three months after his father died) that Jack married Ms. Margaret Cecelia Murray, who was at the time living in New York and working as a credit clerk. Since this was during the time that Jack was serving in active duty, it can be assumed that he was on leave, he was 19 and Margaret just turned 21.
After his discharge from service in 1945, Jack and Margaret settled in Brooklyn NY where they had their two sons, Jack Jr. and Kenneth. Jack took a job with the Babylon New York Police Department where he worked his way up to the rank of Homicide Detective. In 1965 Jack petitioned Babylon Lodge No. 793 for the Three Symbolic Degrees and was Initiated on April 28, 1965, Passed on April 27, 1966 and Raised on December 14, 1966.
In 1973 Jack retired from police work and moved to Florida with Margaret, the couple settled in Seminole. Jack visited most of the Lodges in the area and made his decision in September of 1976 to Affiliate with Gulf Beach Lodge. Four months later (1977) Jack was installed as Senior Steward of the Lodge. Jack had a wonderful memory and quickly learned the Master Mason Lecture. In 1978 Jack was elected Junior Warden of the Lodge having previously learned all other officer parts. From there Jack moved up the line in succession to Master in 1980. Jack earned several Grand Lodge proficiency cards for the many ritual parts he had put to memory.
Jack was very active in other Masonic bodies including, Scottish Rite (and the Boca Ciega Scottish Rite Club), York Rite, Tall Cedars on Lebanon, Egypt Temple Shrine, OES Chapter 241. He was also a member of VFW Post 9272 (Seminole).
In 1983 Jack was elected Treasurer of the Lodge, but his term was cut short by his passing on October 31st 1983, he was 58 years old. Masonic services were performed by Gulf Beach Lodge at Mohn Funeral Home in Seminole.
Past Master Bio: John W. Bingham 1981
John William Bingham was born on April 10, 1944, in Cleveland Ohio to John and Gertrude Bingham. His father was a police officer for the city of Cleveland and his mother a secretary for the same department. John was one of four sons born to John and Gertrude. John graduated from Grand Valley High School (Orwell Ohio) in 1962. While at Grand Valley High School John met Cheri (attended 1961 – 1965) who in 1966 would become his wife. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2016.
John’s family was very active in Gulf Beach Lodge prior to his joining. His brother Tom Bingham Sr. (Master in 1979) was Raised in 1974, his brother Ken was raised in 1975, his father John Henry Bingham affiliated in 1975. John, who was working for General Telephone, was raised in 1977 and served as Junior Warden the year his brother Tom was Master (1979).
John and Cheri Bingham have two children, Lee (also a member of the Lodge) and daughter Anna. John and his family moved to Dade City, where he still resides. He enjoys being a grandfather to Brett, Brooke and Kimberly.
Past Master Bio: David E. Edwards 1982
David Elias Edwards was born on March 17, 1944, in the small town of Shamrock Florida, just a few miles northwest of Old Town Florida. David was the youngest of three children, having an older brother and sister. He enjoyed a happy childhood growing up in rural Florida and attended LaFayette High school where he graduated in 1963. In High School he was active in sports, playing on the football team, basketball team, and track. David was also a member of the High School Letterman Club and the 4-H Club. Upon graduating David joined the US Army and served as an intelligence officer from 1963-67. After his 4-year term of service was completed, David took a job as a Computer Systems Analyst for Pinellas County, where he worked for 27 years, making many life-long friends while he resided in Seminole.
David was Initiated in Gulf Beach Lodge on January 12, 1978, Passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft on March 9, 1978 and Raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason on April 27, 1978. He served as Master in 1982, Treasurer in 1985, District Chairman of MH-100 from 1987 – 1989, Lodge Chaplain from 1990 – 1992 and became a Perpetual Member in 2005.
David was married to Patricia and had two daughters, Wendy, and Joy. David became a grandfather when Joy had two children, Cayla, and Austin, and he became a great grandfather when Cayla had a daughter named Millie, born two months before David passed away.
David was known as “Captain Dave” by most people and his hobbies included fishing and spending quality time with family and friends. His best companions were Mary, his lovely dog ‘Laddie’, and his wild parrot ‘Moondoggie’.
David passed away on August 29, 2020, and is sorely missed by his family, who cherish his memory which lives on through his children, grandchildren, and great grandchild.
Past Master Bio: Archie L. M. Graham 1983
Archie Lowell Muffeny Graham was born on September 23, 1924, in Martins Ferry Ohio, to Edward and Marie Muffeny. The year following Archie’s birth his parents divorced and his mother remarried in 1926, to Ralph Graham who adopted Archie. Archie’s stepfather worked for Standard Oil Co. of Ohio as a salesman, while they were living in Warren Ohio. By 1940 Archie was attending the Boys Industrial School in Hocking Ohio. On August 1, 1942, when Archie was 18, he married Catherine Ann Randolph and took a job with the railroad. In 1945 Archie and Ann were divorced. Archie left the railroad and went into the steel business where he remained until 1972, when he, his second wife, Ellenor, their daughters, along with his parents packed their bags and headed to Seminole to get away from the harsh cold weather. When they arrived in Seminole Archie opened a lawn maintenance business and Ellenor went to work at Sun Coast Hospital in Largo.
Archie petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge and took his EA Degree on September 29, 1977, his Fellow Craft Degree on February 9, 1977, and his Master Mason Degree on March 23, 1977. Archie immediately got into the officer line at Lodge and in 1983 was installed as Master. His Master’s project was twofold, first to apply ‘sparkle-crete’ to the exterior of the building, and second to purchase a new Master’s chair for the East (it is the chair we currently have). Archie was active in the Scottish Rite (he served as President of the Boca Ciega Scottish Rite Club) and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon. Archie died on January 4, 1989, at the age of 64. Masonic funeral services were conducted at the Lewis Mohn Funeral Home in Seminole by the Gulf Beach Lodge Memorial Team.
Past Master Bio: Ernest J. Freeman Jr. 1984
Ernest Jordan Freeman Jr. was born on March 26, 1915, in Wakefield Massachusetts (about 11 miles north of Boston), the only child of Ernest and Eva Flannagan. The family name remained Flannagan until about 1939 when he and his parents changed their last name to Freeman. I couldn’t find any explanation of why the sudden official name change.
Ernie was educated in the local schools of Wakefield and was quite the outstanding student. Upon graduation he was accepted into Harvard University where he graduated in 1938. When Ernie first entered Harvard, his last name was Flannagan, and by 1938 it was Freeman. Ernie was immediately accepted into Harvard Business School where he earned his Master’s Degree in 1941.
On June 16, 1941, just after graduation, Ernie enlisted in the US Navy and was assigned to the Soldiers Field Station in Boston, which was begun by his father, Captain Ernest J. Freeman Sr., the year before. Little did Ernie know that within 6 months the US would be at war.
On March 10, 1942 (just three months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor) Ernie married Ms. Alice Emmet Whitehouse. The couple had no time for a proper honeymoon as Ernie was being shipped out to the USS Tuscaloosa where he would serve as an Ensign. During the war Ernie’s father served as the Commander of the Portland Naval Station, Portland, Maine. Ernie was blessed being assigned to the Tuscaloosa, which had earned 7 battle stars in WWII. The ship was never damaged in battle, she had a charmed life compared to her six sister ships, three of which were sunk and the other three heavily damaged.
On November 4, 1945, Ernie was discharged and returned to the states. In 1948 Ernie and Alice had their first son, Ernest III (two other sons were to follow, Robert and William). Ernie immediately found employment as an accountant at a Silver Manufacturing Co. in New Haven CT., but soon had moved to Bangor Maine where he took a position with the Viner Brothers Shoe Manufacturing Co. and there served as Exec. Vice-President. After 20 years with Viner Bros., Ernie retired and with Alice moved to Bar Harbor ME., to take care of his mother.
Tragedy struck the Freeman family when Ernie’s wife Alice died at age 58, in 1972. Ernie stayed in Bar Harbor another three years caring for his elderly mother who passed away in May of 1975. Ernie was ready to get away from the harsh north and as soon as he settled his mother’s estate and sold his house, was on his way to Florida.
Ernie arrived in St. Petersburg in the Fall of 1975. Ernie having an active mind and not one to sit back in a rocking chair for retirement, decided that he was going to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Freemason (His father was a member of Golden Rule Masonic Lodge in Massachusetts).
Ernie was Initiated on December 16, 1977; Passed on March 3, 1978; and Raised on September 28, 1978. Within one year of being Raised (while he was Junior Steward), Ernie earned his Gold Card for memorization of all 3 lectures, all 3 catechisms (question and answers) and all the esoteric work in all three degrees. In 1984, when Ernie was Master, he announced that his Masters Project was the formation of a Lodge Scholarship to be given to a deserving High School student each year. After Ernie died, the Scholarship Fund was named in his honor.
Ernie died on November 11, 1989, at age 74 and was buried in Bar Harbor Maine next to his beloved wife Alice.
Past Master Bio: James B. Tillinghast 1985
James Budd Tillinghast was born on November 8, 1943, in Upper Darby, PA., the youngest of five children. Jim’s father (a member of Lansdowne Lodge No. 711 F.&A.M.) worked at an oil refinery. After graduating from Lansdowne High School, Pennsylvania in 1960, Jim enlisted in the US Army where he was able to take some engineering courses. In 1964 he reenlisted and in 1965 Jim’s unit was sent to Vietnam where he served as a staff sergeant until the time of his discharge on August 23, 1972. In 1969, Jim’s father was tragically killed in an explosion at the Atlantic-Richfield Refinery in Philadelphia where he had worked for 36 years, he was 62. After his military service, Jim went to work for the US government as a Sky Marshall. In 1971, Jim’s mother had moved to St. Petersburg and 1976 Jim joined his mother here. On March 18, 1978, he married Carol Lee Underwood. Six months after his wedding Jim petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge for the Three Degrees and was Initiated on October 12, 1978, Passed on November 9, 1978, and Raised on January 25, 1979. The following year Jim started in the officer line as Junior Steward, working his way to Master. In 1984, Jim earned a silver proficiency card. Jim was Past Royal Patron of the Order of Amaranth No. 43 in Largo, a Scottish Rite and York Rite Mason and a member of Egypt Temple Shrine. He was also a member of the AMVETS Post 7467, Pinellas Park and attended Church By The Sea in Madeira Beach.
Jim was locally active in the commercial fishing industry with the Southern Offshore Fishing Association (SOFA) and served as their administrator in 1985.
Jim died at home on March 31, 1993, he was 49 years old. Masonic services were rendered at Mohn Funeral Home in Seminole.
Past Master Bio: Frederick A. Larges 1986
Frederick Arnold Larges, Master of Gulf Beach Lodge in 1986, was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 23, 1940, to Arnold and Opal Larges. Fred’s father’s name was ‘Arnold Frederick’ and they named Fred ‘Frederick Arnold’. Fred’s father worked for Ethyl Gasoline Corp. in Michigan. Fred received his schooling in Royal Oak, Michigan and graduated from Walled Lake High School. Fred attended college and studied Engineering for 3 ½ years after which he enlisted in the US Air Force and served 4 years.
Following military service Fred took a job with the Simplex Time Recorder Company in Troy Michigan, a large manufacturer of work time clocks. In 1978 Fred decided to leave Michigan and relocated to St. Petersburg, where he began selling real estate. Soon after arriving he met Ms. Shirley Lee Moore, and the couple were married. They had no children.
In 1979 Fred petitioned Gulf Beach Lodge for the Three Degrees and was Initiated on May 24th, Passed on September 13th and Raised on November 29th. Fred began in the officer line in 1981.
Fred, always the successful businessman, started a travel company in Seminole called ‘Florida World Travel’. By 1985 he and Shirley had divorced, and Fred never remarried. It was about this time that Fred, who always loved art and design, began volunteering as a guide at the new Dali Museum in St. Pete.
Fred was a Scottish Rite Mason, Shriner, and Past President of the Seminole Shrine Club.
Fred sadly passed away on March 21, 1994, at age 53 and is buried at Garden Sanctuary in Seminole.