[Square & Compasses]

Letter of the month: February 2004

Message-Id: <s0348d55.060@gwm.sc.edu>
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2004 10:17:51 -0500
From: "D. Eric Holt" <DEHolt01@gwm.sc.edu>
To: <dryfoo@mit.edu>, <masonry-ask@mit.edu>
Subject: inquiry regarding a deceased member

Dear Mr. Dryfoos,

I'm trying to find out more about a member, Jeremiah Casselman, my wife's deceased father.

He died in California in 1996 at the age of 65 in Palm Springs, I believe it was, and had a white apron, but nobody knew what it was or what to do with it. We now know/suspect that it supposed to be part of his burial; however, though Jeremiah was a Mason, his burial unintentionally neglected that heritage.

Is there any way to confirm what Lodge he belonged to, and how some sort of posthumous recognition might be given, or other appropriate steps taken?

Our own records are sparse and not easily located, but it would mean a lot to my wife, who feels like she let her father down in this regard.

Very sincerely,

Eric Holt
Lucian Casselman Holt


From: dryfoo@MIT.EDU
Message-Id: <200402210037.i1L0bGnu008216@thelonious.mit.edu>
To: "D. Eric Holt" <DEHolt01@gwm.sc.edu>
Subject: Re: inquiry regarding a deceased member
In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 19 Feb 2004 10:17:51 EST."
             <s0348d55.060@gwm.sc.edu> 
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2004 19:37:16 -0500

Dear Mr. Holt

You have to find your father-in-law's lodge if you can. Was he active in the Masons in California, or did he only live there for a short while before his passing?

If you know what town/city he lived in, you can more easily find out what lodge he belonged to. Maybe you already know. Do you have anything Masonic in your possession? A copy of his lodge's notice, mailed to every member each month -- that would give you the information you need. Or his lodge certificate? Or a dues wallet card?

If you have none, you can contact the Grand Lodge of the state where he was an active Mason. They can tell you what lodge he was a member of. Explain your situation to the nice people at the Grand Secretary's office at Grand Lodge, and they will probably help you contact his lodge. The lodge may have performed a Masonic memorial service at a meeting when they received word of his passing. Or perhaps they never heard? and still don't know? In that case, they would perform a memorial service during a regular meeting once they are notified. Perhaps they would invite you and do some kind of public Masonic memorial at a nearby chapel, and make use of his white apron symbolically. The usual practice is for the brother's lodge to attend his funeral and (with permission of the family) perform a Masonic memorial service preceding the regular service.

Traditionally, the family has given the apron to the funeral home, and the departed brother is wearing his white apron -- white as a emblem of purity of spirit and conduct in this life, the condition in which we all hope to approach any life hereafter.

It's sad but true that most Masons don't inform their family about their white apron and wish for a Masonic funeral or memorial service.

When I post your letter on-line, to warn other brothers to remember this important matter, I will also have a suggestion from a brother in Pennsylvania that could help avoid this regret in future cases.

I will be out of town for several weeks. I hope my answer will help solve your problem. If not, simply contact the grand lodge of your state, and identify yourself (or in this case your wife) as the orphan of a Mason asking for advice.

best wishes,


+---------------------------------------------------------------------------
| Gary L. Dryfoos <dryfoo@mit.edu>| Ocean Lodge AF&AM, Saugus, MA (PM)
| P.O.Box 425400, Camb, MA 02142  | Mt. Scopus Lodge AF&AM, Malden, MA (PM)
|                                 | Richard C. Maclaurin Lodge, MIT, MA
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|  whom no contention should ever exist, save that noble contention,
|  or rather emulation, of who best can work and best agree."
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