A Brief History of the Valley of Altoona…
A Brief History of the Valley of Altoona

 

Brethren and guests… As you read this historical account of the Valley of Altoona, you must understand that much of this information was gathered and collected by a number of dedicated brethren. This history of the Valley of Altoona was completed in 2003 for the 50th Anniversary of the Altoona Consistory, the fourth and last Body to be Constituted in Altoona in 1953. The history was assembled by an ad-hoc committee of Ill. :.Dale A. DeLozier, 33º, Chairman, Ill:.Harold Mallow, 33º, Ill. :. Ernest DeJaiffe, 33º, and Ill. :.Richard Gunsallus, 33º, and was edited by Ill:. J. David Kline, 33º, respectively.  Now, in the early months of 2009, it has been reviewed and  updated again….Please enjoy reading about our evolution!

To read the entire 2003 book about our history and notable members, you can view the ebook version here: History of the Valley: 1951-2003

 

At the middle of the twentieth century, the Altoona-Blair County area was a “battleground” for several of the surrounding Scottish Rite ValleysWilliamsport and Harrisburg both had large memberships from this area. From time to time, both had been talking bout the formation of a Valley of Scottish Rite in this section, but loyalty of the Scottish Rite leaders to their own Valleys, whether it be Harrisburg, Williamsport, or some other Valley, prevented any real positive movement.

 

The Actives for Pennsylvania, Ill. Scott S. Leiby, Richard A. Kern, Williad G. Cutler, and William Yeager were interested in the formation of anew Valley.  The primary reason was that they felt no one should have to travel over 100 miles to receive Scottish Rite degrees.  In June, 1951 a meeting was held with the above-named brethren.  Attending from our area included the following:  Ill. :. Arthur E. Winter, 33°, and Bros. Herbert S. Brehman, George H. Brehman, H. Dean Burket, George D. Mallow, Clarence W. Hoover, and Harold R. Mallow.  After much discussion, it was agreed that these seven men would each collect signatures on a Petition for Dispensation to hold a Lodge of Perfection in Altoona.  To pay for the dispensation, each member would pay $5.00.  In two weeks, the group had collected 135 signatures.

 

At the 1951 session of the Pennsylvania Council of Deliberation held in Scranton on Friday, July 20, a petition from 194 Grand Elect Masons residing in Blair County, to establish a Lodge of Perfection in the city of Altoona, was presented.  It received unanimous approval.  Thus begins the history of the Valley of Altoona.

 

At the Supreme Council session held in Boston in September of 1951, the Committee on Dispensations and Charters submitted the petition bearing the endorsement of the Deputy for Pennsylvania, Ill.:. Scott S. Leiby, 33°, and recommended the petition be granted and that the Sovereign Grand Commander be requested to issue a Dispensation for the Altoona Lodge of Perfection, 14°.  Ill. :. John B. Mallen, 33°, moved the report be accepted and its recommendation be adopted.  It was so voted and the second step had been taken.

 

From the report of the Pennsylvania Deputy, Ill.:. Scott S. Leiby, 33°, at the Council of Deliberation, held July 11, 1952 at Philadelphia, it was written:

 

“We are happy to report that pursuant to the approval of the Supreme Council, and many Scottish Rite brethren, had the great pleasure of delivering a Dispensation for a Lodge of Perfection at Altoona, Blair County, Pennsylvania, December 11, 1951.  This Lodge of Perfection immediately became active, organized by elected officers, adopting by-laws and appointing the necessary committees, and on April 3, 1952, held its first Reunion to confer degrees.  The degree cast from Gourgas Lodge of Perfection at Pittsburgh conferred the 7°, and the degree cast from Williamsport Lodge of Perfection conferred the 14°.  The work, in each case, was most acceptably done and well-received by a class of approximately 100 brethren seeking further Masonic Light.”

 

At the Fall Reunion of the Valley of Altoona held October 28, 1952, the Charter, dated September 24, 1952, was delivered to the Altoona Lodge of Perfection and the Body formally constituted.  Officers serving at the time of constitution included  George E. Brehman, Thrice Potent Master; Robert E. Dively, Deputy Master; Clarence W. Hoover, Senior Warden; and Frederick B. Yorks, Junior Warden.

 

 

At the same time Dispensations were presented authorizing a Council of Princes of Jerusalem and a Chapter of Rose Croix to meet under Dispensation.  The Illustrious Commander-in-Chief of the Pennsylvania Council of Deliberation, Ill:.Scott S. Leiby, 33°, assisted by Ill:. Ralph M. Lehr, 33°, Director of Work in the Valley of Harrisburg, presented the Charter and the Dispensations on the occasion of the 1952 Fall Reunion.

 

A further step was taken at the Council of Deliberation session held in Pittsburgh on Friday, July 10, 1953 when a request for the Council’s approval of a petition for a Consistory Body was presented.  At this time, Charters for the Council of Princes of Jerusalem and Chapter of Rose Croix, then working under Dispensation, were petitioned for.  These requests were unanimously approved in the Council of Deliberation and later by supreme Council, which met that year in Chicago.

 

During that first year, the Valley of Altoona received much help from the Actives for Pennsylvania as well as many other active Masonic leaders in Pennsylvania.  Our neighboring Valleys were also very helpful, not only with degree work, but with “starting gifts.” The minutes record the following gifts: 

            Valley of Pittsburgh - $2,000.00

            Valley of Harrisburg - $500.00 

            Valley of Williamsport - $500.00

            Valley of Towanda - $100.00

            Valley of New Castle – Alter Bible

 

First officers in the Council of Princes of Jerusalem, 16° included Vernet B. Coffman, Sovereign Prince; Ralph W. Isenberg, High Priest; Joseph C. Leamer, Senior Warden; Ernest Dejaiffe, Junior Warden. 

 

Officers installed in the Altoona Chapter of Rose Croix, 18°, included Charles B. Walton, Most Wise Master; Thomas S. Stetler, Senior Warden, and D. Robert Brumbaugh, Junior Warden.

 

The 1953 Fall Class was named in honor of Ill.:.Willard G. Cutler, 33°, and Ill Bro. Cutler as Acting Sovereign Grand Commander, presented the Dispensation for the Altoona Consistory, 32° at that Reunion.  Assisted by the Commander-in-Chief and officers of Pennsylvania Consistory, Valley of Pittsburgh, he then installed the officers of the Altoona Consistory, including George E. Brehman, Commander-in-Chief; Robert E. Dively, First Lieutenant Commander; James W. Sullivan, Second Lieutenant Commander.

 

Serving all four bodies at the time of institution were Ill.:.Arthur E. Winter, 33° as Treasurer and H. Dean Burket, as Secretary.

 

A Charter for the Altoona Council of Princes of Jerusalem, dated September 23, 1953 and one for the Altoona Chapter of Rose Croix, bearing the same date, were presented at the Stated meeting, November 12, 1953, by  Ill.:.Arthur E. Winter, 33°, at the direction of Ill.: Scott S. Leiby, 33°, Deputy for Pennsylvania.

 

During the year 1954 permanent headquarters were acquired in Jaffa Shrine Temple, thus providing commodious accommodations to meet all needs. A committee consisting of Robert E. Dively, Ralph W. Isenberg, Thomas S. Stetler, and George E. Brehman was formed to design and equip a Lodge Room for the Valley of Altoona.  The room, situated at the southeast corner of the Jaffa Temple, was a former pool room that was no longer used.  The committee visited Valleys around the state to see what was the required layout of a Scottish Rite Lodge Room.  To their amazement, there was no standard for Scottish Rite.  The room had a grey painted floor that had to be tiled.  A stage was built at the end of the hall and the room was repainted.  The original seating was acquired from a former theater in Roaring Spring.  Ill.:.Arthur S. Winter, 33°, donated stained glass windows, and Bro. J. Guy Shaffer, 32° donated the wiring and labor to install them.  Shaffer also donated the first sound system to the Valley.  The first event held in the new Lodge Room was the Maundy Thursday service on March 31, 1955.  The Lodge Room would undergo renovations in 1974 and again in 2004, making it more accessible to the membership and reflecting the times.

 

 

 

January 31, 1955 was a significant day in the history of the Valley of Altoona.  On that date, a special Rendezvous was held for the official presentation of the Charter of the Altoona consistory, thus completing the establishment of all four coordinate bodies.  Ill.:.Scott S. Leiby, 33°, Deputy for Pennsylvania and Acting Sovereign Grand Commander, assisted by a number of other distinguished visitors, made the presentation.  The Charter date is September 29, 1954. 

 

The year 1955 also marked another important achievement – the organization of five Scottish Rite Clubs in the surrounding counties through which contact is maintained with members in outlying territories. 

 

The Spring Reunion of 1957 brought a visit from the Sovereign Grand Commander, Ill.:.George E. Bushnell, 33°.  A dinner on Wednesday evening, May 1st, at the Penn Alto Hotel honored the distinguished brother.  It was attended by all the Active Members of the Supreme Council for Pennsylvania and by all officers and past officers of the Valley of Altoona.

 

For the year 1961, a sad event must here be recorded.  On October 13, the first Secretary of the Bodies in the Valley of Altoona, Ill :.H. Dean Burket, 33° passed away.  He was succeeded in office by Bro. Byron A. Roberts, 33°, who served as Secretary until 1964 at which time Bro. Harold G. “King” Miller, 32° was elected and served all bodies until 1972.

 

In 1962 the Valley was host to the ninety-first session of the Pennsylvania Council of Deliberation which met there on July 13th.  The year 1964 marked the formation of one additional Scottish Rite Club in Bedford County, and the holding of a number of “outpost” meeting in areas surrounding Blair County.

 

Thus the Valley of Altoona made substantial progress during the fifteen years of its existence.  Numbering now close to 2,500 members, it has constantly shown improvement in every phase of Scottish Rite activity.

 

Ironically, the Valley now had a Lodge Room, but no place for the Secretary.  Prior to 1965,  all administrative work of the Valley was conducted at the home of the Secretary.  The Executive Board and the Jaffa Temple sanctioned the use of space adjacent to what is now the Past Potentate’s Room.  The window provides a view of Broad Avenue.

 

Here’s an interesting fact… in 1965 a vote was taken by the membership (or maybe the Executive Board?) to include the Ladies at the Fall and Spring Reunion dinners.  Additionally, the Valley provided entertainment for the Ladies on the afternoon of the final day of the Reunion.  It is something that still happens at times!

 

An annual “corn boil” and wiener roast to which all members, and families, along with Mater Mason friends and their families, increased in popularity each year.  The year 1966 showed the largest attendance ever recorded.

 

A Maundy Thursday Observance is regularly held in Jaffa Shrine Temple and is well attended.  The annual family night, also held at the Shrine Temple, featured a vaudeville show, dancing and refreshment, and has been growing in popularity each year.  All of these activities together with dinners for members and their ladies at opportune times, have kept alive enthusiastic interest in the Valley.

 

This brings to an end the first “Chapter” in our history…we were constituted and got things started.  Please continue to enjoy some interesting facts and stories since those early years.  Some of the following information is taken directly from our “Observation Reports” that are submitted annually to the Deputy.

 

Until recent years, two Reunions were held each year, in the Spring and the Fall, but ritualistic work receives constant attention as degree teams continue to rehearse throughout the year.  Currently (2007), the Executive Board has decided to hold one Reunion each year – in the Spring.  Meanwhile, back stage personnel seek to improve scenic efforts and lighting, while others acquire properties and paraphernalia necessary to achieve effective degree work.  Ill.:.Harold R. Mallow, 33°, MSA has been the Director of the Stage for over 50 years and until 2008, he never missed one Reunion…never out front, always behind the curtain!

 

Such are the things that keep a Valley busy and growing.  When this portion was originally written, it was indeed true that “The future of the Valley is filled with vast opportunities and great promise.”

 

1970-1979…

 

As I gleamed over those Observation Reports, I noticed that the Valley continued to prosper.  Another “outpost” had been established in 1969 in Indiana and another in June, 1970 in Somerset.  Also in 1970, less than 20 years in our history, the Valley acted as the host for the Annual Council of Deliberation meeting in July.  They did a marvelous job after a lot of hard preparation.  The 70’s also ushered in a few other “firsts” for the Valley… in 1972, the “Feast of the Paschal Lamb” replaced the traditional Maundy Thursday service honoring our deceased brethren.  It was held each year on Palm Sunday.  Included in recent years has been another play, this one called the “The Last Supper.”  This presentation has been moved out of the Jaffa Temple and has been brought to the membership in various churches in the jurisdiction.  Finally,  1979 saw the first “Open Installation of Officers.”  As the current Secretary in the Valley (this being 2009), I can remember that I served as the Installing Officer.  Countless number of rehearsals were held since this was going to be the first time any “outsiders” would witness such an event!  It was held in the auditorium and was well-attended.  As Ill.:.Scott Leiby, 33°,  had reported in 1952 in Philadelphia regarding the degree work during our constitution:   “…it was most acceptably done and well-received…”

 

A major restoration of the Lodge Room of the Valley of Altoona was organized in 1973 and completed in 1975, with a committee consisting of:  Ill:. Harold Mallow 33°, Chairman,  Ill:. Joseph Bordell, 33°,  Ill:. Spencer Hauenstine, 33°, Ill:. Blair Sponeybarger, 33°, Ill.: Earl Robinson, 33°, Ill:. Raymond Blowers, 33°, Bro. James Meadows, 32°, and Bro. Eugene Hildabrand, 32°.  The committee labored with the many problems of the Valley Lodge Room. After much review, the committee presented two estimates to the Valley, one for    $12, 537 and one for $19,837 which included the addition of air conditioning. The Valley approved the second estimate and directed the committee to “go all the way.”  One of the problems of the Lodge Room was the location near an outside wall that permitted moisture to enter the wall. The plaster of the South wall continuously eroded and fell off. Ill.:.Earl Robinson, 33°,  an employee of a local contractor, recommended installing a new aluminum stud system and waterproof drywall along the affected walls in the Lodge Room and the attached Lounge. The new wall was built and afterward, was carpeted by Ill.:.Ralph Arthur, 33°.  A new wall was also installed behind the stage, lighting and curtains were also installed. The old seating was getting rough and new theater seating was purchased from the William F. Gable Company for a cost of $5,850.00. New officers’ stations were also purchased. Lastly, air conditioning was installed for the members’ comfort. To complete the renovation, Ill.:. Harold R. Mallow, 33°, designed and donated plaques depicting the four Bodies, to the Valley.

 

The renovations were completed and the Lodge Room was formally dedicated in May of 1975. The program was a gala affair with the Sovereign Grand Commander in attendance. The Sovereign Grand Commander was very impressed and remarked on the progress of the Valley in such a short time. Ill:.Harold R. Mallow, 33° delivered a dialogue on the state of the renovations, which was well received and at the request of the Sovereign Grand Commander, was repeated for the Council of Deliberation.

 

 

 

 

1980-1989…

 

In 1984, the Executive Board created the “Officer Screening Committee  whereby all potential officers for all bodies would be interviewed and “screened” before being appointed.  This process has served the Valley well over the years.

 

A retirement in1985.  Normally, retirements are not a significant part of history.  Secretaries come and go…officers are appointed, elected, and then become past!  But, in 1985, the Valley lost a veteran who trained more than one Valley Secretary!  Read on…  Back in 1963 when Loretta Hazen came to work in the office in the Valley of Altoona, the membership was 1,900, there were six clubs in the Valley, and the dues for each member was $8.00. In the intervening 22 years, she has helped the Valley grow to 4,000 members, 11 clubs and a dues structure of $20.00 per year.

 

During those years, she has worked with Byron Roberts, Harold Miller, Charles Endres, Alvin Burley, and Ernest DeJaiffe as Secretaries of the Valley. Beside the personal changes, many physical and procedural changes have taken place to the point where we now have an efficient and orderly procedure for handling the Valley’s business of which we all may be proud. Perhaps the greatest single change was when the Valley switched to the computer in Lexington, Mass., for financial and statistical record keeping.

 

In this same period, our office manager, although very busy in the office, has made valuable contributions to the social and business activities of the community. She is very active in the Women’s Club of Altoona, serving as President in 1969-70, she is a Past Matron of Altoona Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star and for fifteen years, she served on a number of elected and appointed committees in the Grand Chapter of Pennsylvania and she edited the Pennsylvania Eastern Star Magazine for ten years. Mrs. Bolger is currently president of the Ladies Golf Association of Iron Masters Country Club, Roaring Spring. Above all, she has made outstanding contributions to her church, St. Paul Lutheran where she has been a member for 45 years. In her service to others, she was a former Girl Scout Leader.

 

When she left her position with the Altoona Mirror to come to the Valley office, she and her husband, the late Ill:. Bro. Howard Hazen, 33°,  were raising a family consisting of a son, Allan, who now holds a responsible position in Washington, and a daughter Susan, now teaching in public schools in Claysburg and married to Bro. Ray Nycum Jr., 32°. This marriage has produced a son, Jeffrey, making our beloved employee a grandmother. Another major change that happened in this period to our co-worker was a second experience with wedding bells. Four years ago, she married Ill.:.Theodore R. Bolger, 33°,  and they reside in Altoona PA. However, when the weather is fit, you might have a better chance at finding them on the golf course at Iron Masters.

 

There is no way to measure the extent of the contributions which Loretta has made over the years to our Valley and to Masonry in general. Her cheerful and positive approach to all the requests of the officers over the years has made the office a peaceful haven for officers and members alike. As we face her departure, we offer our best wishes for health and happiness for many years. We realize that no one can replace her, but we all promise to do our very best in trying to attain the high standards which she has maintained for the Valley.  So long Loretta, may you continue to enjoy life and people for many years.

 

Also in 1985, the Valley saw its first stated meeting held at a location other than the Lodge Room in the Jaffa Temple.  The Council of Princes of Jerusalem, 16°, met at the Masonic Temple in Johnstown.

 

1990-1999…

 

At the Pennsylvania Council of Deliberation, held July 30, 1990 at Seven Springs PA, the Valley of Altoona was recognized as the Valley with the greatest increase in membership in Pennsylvania for the year 1989-90, and thereby receiving the Kimmel Trophy.

For the first time since the “Feast of the Paschal Lamb” replaced the Maundy Thursday service, the observance of “The Last Supper” was held on Palm Sunday evening, April 4, 1993 at the Jaffa Mosque.  The music for the event was presented by the Valley of Altoona Scottish Rite Choir. What is unique about this play is that the presentation was adapted by Ill.:.Ernest Dejaiffe, 33º, M.S. from a pageant presented each year by the Hershey United Methodist Church. A large number of members and guests attended this spring time event.

 

Another somewhat unique event was held in conjunction with our annual election.  This was held May 11, 1995 with everything going as expected. Our Installation of Officers, however, was held on May 26, 1995 at the Ramada Inn in Altoona in conjunction with a Ladies Night.

 

During 1995 the Valley made some By-law changes. Most significant was a dues increase from $20.00 to $30.00. This was the first dues increase in about 15 years. It passed without dissention.

 

Of growing concern to the Valley during this decade was the inactivity of the Scottish Rite Clubs. The members who were active have passed away or are unable to help because of age or health reasons. Replacements have not come forward. Also, our Family Life Week activities for the year 1995/96 seemed to be at a standstill. Membership is also a concern as it continues to decline.

 

As best can be determined, for one year only, the Valley instituted a “Ring Ceremony.”  The new members were presented with a 14° ring during the ceremony in which the new member is escorted by his sponsor and the ring is presented by his lady.   Although impressive, the trend did not seem to “catch on.” 

 

As of 1998 - a suitable location for a learning center had not been found.  Money was allocated, committees were formed, but no location was to be had. A number of possible locations had been explored and visited, but nothing has been suitable. Consideration was even given to buying our own building since we rent from the Jaffa Temple, so that the Valley operations and the Learning Center could be located there. It was a church building that was no longer being used, but the original cost, cost of repairs, and utilities and upkeep, plus zoning put a halt to those plans!

 

Another problem during the spring of 1998 was the switch to a new computer membership system by Supreme Council. Records were all mixed up, and the Valley was unable to get answers or help with our problems from Supreme Council. The Valley went several weeks without being able to access any of our member’s information. The computer was sent to Lexington to have the program installed; computers were inadvertently switched; then the Valley got their original computer back and had to ship the one they had sent to us back!  The membership year ended on June 30, but the Dues Notices and Membership Cards were not sent out. It was frustrating. The members called and wondered where their dues notices are.  What a Spring!

 

2000- 2003…

 

The One Day Millennium Class Reunion was a great success on April 29, 2000. The Valley of Altoona combined with the Valleys of Harrisburg and Lancaster for the event.  The Valley received 63 new members that day, the largest group in several years.  There was a good attendance in Harrisburg. The Valley chartered three buses plus several of our candidates and members rode the Valley of Harrisburg’s Scottish Rite Club’s bus from Bedford County. Also, quite a few of the candidates and members drove to Harrisburg. Our 16th Degree cast presented the 16th Degree. Our officers helped throughout the day. It was impressive to look over the auditorium and the dining hall to see such a large group of men assembled.

 

On a happier note, it seems like the new computer system from Supreme Council was finally getting straightened out. It had been a frustrating year handling all the information that needs to be recorded when the computer system couldn’t handle it. Errors and problems were slowly being eliminated.

 

Initiated in 1997, Ill. :.  John Biddle, 33°, Chairman of the Valley of Altoona Executive Committee, appointed Dr. Bro. Dale W. Woomer, 32°, to the task of determining if there was an interest and a need for a Learning Center in the Valley or Altoona. After a survey of school officials by personal contact throughout the area, and statistics from a survey of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, he reported to the Executive Committee that there was an interest and a need in our jurisdiction A center can become a reality where there is a desire to make a positive difference in children's lives, a willingness to dedicate time and energy to a program of community services, and a vision of what can be done now as a foundation for the future. The Executive Committee voted in favor of opening a center and appointed a Ad-hoc Planning Committee of Bro. Dale W. Woomer, 32°, Chairman, Ill.:. Ronald Yoder, 33° and Ill.:. James Yoder, 33°, and the current presiding officers of the Lodge of Perfection, Council of Princes of Jerusalem, Chapter of Rose Croix, and Consistory.

 

The decision to open a Learning Center in the Valley or Altoona was submitted on February 28, 1998 to the Executive Director, Joseph Berlandi. Nominations for the Board of Governors, (volunteers of professional people knowledgeable in the fields of Education, Business, Law, Public Welfare, etc.) were submitted to the Executive Director and approved on September 28. 1998.

 

To open a center, a Valley had to submit a fund raising plan to raise $25,000, which would be matched by the Learning Center Foundation. Fund-raising would take extensive planning over a long period of time and after much discussion, the Executive Committee voted to set aside the amount in the Treasury needed for this purpose. With the matching funds available, a Construction Plan and a Budget was submitted and approved.

 

There were two major problems to be solved before the Learning Center could become a reality--hiring a Director, and locating a site After investigating many sites (for about 2 years): i.e. Jaffa Mosque, office buildings, an abandoned Presbyterian Church, portable classroom trailers, and finally a vacant music store owned by one of our members, we selected the music store. The music store, in addition to being a fine choice, was also appropriate as it was once owned by Ill.:.Bro. Arthur Winter, 33°, the first Honorary Member to join the Valley of Altoona and recommender for the Valley’s first warrant.

 

Ill:. Phillip Berquist, 33°, VP of the Corporation visited Altoona to inspect the site and after inspecting the building for square footage and space available, heat, air condition, locality, rest room facilities and construction plans prepared by an architect and an engineer, he approved the site. The plans were then submitted to the Pa Department of Labor and Industry and the Altoona Building Inspector for approval for the necessary permits. This delayed construction for 8 months. After permits were granted, construction took 6 months.

 

The next hurdle was finding a qualified director, one certified in the Orton-Gillingham method. After advertising locally and on the WEB, contacting the Orton Gillingham Academy, contacting other Center Directors, all to no avail, the Valley ended their search by training one of our tutor trainees to satisfy the director qualifications. Mrs. Patty Harrison, Reading Specialist in the Glendale School District, completed the requirements and was appointed Acting Director. Mrs. Karen Woomer, retired Penelec Exec was hired as the Administrative Assistant. The opening date was January 15, 2002 and the first three students. Matthew. Neil and Justin started training on February 9. 2002. The Summer Session started with 4 Tutor Trainees and 9 students with 4 additional students on the waiting list.

 

The first Executive Guidance Committee for the Learning Center consisted of the following brethren:              Ill.:.Jack Speece, 33°, Lodge of Perfection, Chairman,  Bro. Dale W. Woomer, 32°, Trustee,  Ill.:.Ronald Yoder, 33°, Trustee, Ill.:.James Yoder, 33°, Trustee, Bro. Manuel Pena, 32°, Valley Secretary,  Ill.:.Dale Delozier, 33°, Valley Treasurer,  Ill.:.Gerald Gutshall, 33°, Member at Large, Ill.:.Earl N. Rager, 33°, Sovereign Prince, Bro. Harold Palmer, 32°, Chapter of Rose Croix, and  Ill.:.Lloyd C. Sorge, 33°, Consistory.

 

The first Board of Governors:  Dr. Dale W. Woomer, 32°, Retired, Chairman, IUP Teacher, Ill.:.Ronald Yoder, 33°, Vice-chairman, Retired Teacher, Ill.:.James Yoder, 33°,  Treasurer, Retired Teacher, Bro. Richard Swartz, 32°, MSA,  Secretary, Retired Teacher, Dr. Frank Melloy, Asst. Supt. Altoona Area Schools, Hon. Jolene Grubb Kopriva, Judge, Mrs. Ruth Longer, Retired Reading Specialist, Bro. Arthur S. Cohen, 32°, Attorney, Dr. Arthur T. Wood, 32°,  Retired Psychologist, Bro. John Dively, 32°,  Architect, Ill.:.Jack Speece, 33°, Mechanical Engineer, and Mrs. Betty Jean Cale, Retired, Orton-Gillingham Teacher.

 

Now, almost ten years in existence, the Learning Center continues to be a light at the end of the tunnel for those students in need.  The Center deals with approximately 17 students from across the jurisdiction each year.  Although a financial burden to the Valley, the Valley began some serious fund-raising efforts in 2008 with the first-ever “Monte Carlo Casino Night” held at the Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, PA.  The hopes are that this will be an annual fund raising effort that will yield at least $10,000 annually.

 

Need some statistics here from Patty…total children served, etc…

 

While it is evident that members of Scottish Rite around the world have made significant contributions to our nation and our world, it is noteworthy that some of those Scottish Rite Masons are members of the Valley of Altoona!  An example…the following story appeared in the February, 2002 issue of the Northern Light:

 

“The Grand Lodge of Masons in Pennsylvania, in cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America, has created a national Masonic recognition award for Freemasons who are active in serving youth through Scouting.

 

The Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award, named after Freemason and Founder of the Boy Scouts of America, was approved by the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America as part of its recently created Community Service Award to recognize those who serve Scouting and are affiliated with a community-based organization.

 

The award will be presented to a Master Mason who is currently a registered Scouter and active in a Scout unit, District, Council or national affiliate and has displayed outstanding dedication to the Scouting program.

 

The Daniel Carter Beard Masonic Scouter Award consists of a certificate and a Boy Scouts of America approved neck medallion and a knot patch to be worn with the Scout uniform. The neck medallion is a silver metallic medal of the Square and Compasses resting upon a sunburst and supported by a blue and silver ribbon. The knot patch is a gold colored square knot supported by a purple background with a gold border.

 

The award is being administered nationally through the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania per request of the Boy Scouts of America for convenient administrative purposes. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania is providing all materials for the award at cost and allowing the use of its staff to handle all the administrative work and communications with the Boy Scouts of America headquarters.”

 

The idea originated from Ill.:.Dale DeLozier, 33º, a Pennsylvania District Deputy Grand Master. A faithful Scouter from more than 20 years at local and district levels, he discussed his plan with then Deputy Grand Master,  Ill.:.Robert L. Dluge, Jr. 33º, and was encouraged to develop his proposal.  Brother DeLozier, an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Order of the Arrow, is a Special Agent with the Norfolk Southern Police Department. He is a Past Master of Juniata Lodge No. 282, Hollidaysburg PA, and a Member of the Scottish Rite, Valley of Altoona.

 

The image of Daniel Beard used in the promotional material appeared in the Scottish Rite 1999 Timeless Brotherhood calendar and is used with permission of the Supreme Council, NMJ.

 

 

The following Masonic Members of Blair County have been presented the Award to date:

 

George Baker, 32º, Woodbury Lodge                 W. James Lee III, Mountain Lodge

Joseph Bondi Jr., Juniata Lodge                           

Andrew Lynch, PM, Hiram Lodge

Dale DeLozier, 32º, DDGM, Juniata Lodge        Philip Mentzer, Juniata Lodge

John Green, 32º, Woodbury Lodge                     Mark L. Shawley, 32º, PM, Juniata Lodge

Wayne B. Hammond, 32º, Juniata Lodge           Jack Speece, 33º, PM, Hiram Lodge

Spenser Hauenstein, 33º, PDDGM, Logan Lodge     William Yon, Mountain Lodge

Vernon Hoover, Everett Lodge                              Denny Young, Juniata Lodge

Joseph L. Kaczor, Juniata Lodge

 

(Note:  Boldfaced names are members of the Valley of Altoona).

 

2003- Present…

 

The forgoing section of our history, as had been indicated, was completed in honor of the Valley’s 50th anniversary in 2003.  A complete copy is available in the Scottish Rite office for review.  The remaining portion of this “brief” history is being updated by the current Secretary,   Ill.:.J. David Kline, 33°, with help from the monthly meeting minutes and input from a number of brethren of the Valley.

 

Let’s take a moment and review those persons who have been responsible for the safeguarding of our historical records.  A listing of the Secretaries and Office Managers who have served the Valley include:

            1952-1961       H. Dean Burket, 33°                                       1952-1964       Helen Burket

            1962-1965       Byron A. Roberts, 33°

            1965-1972       Harold G. “King” Miller, 33°                         1964-1985       Loretta Hazen/Bolger

            1972-1973       Charles W. Endres, 32°, Acting Secretary

            1973-1974       Alvin M. Burley, 32°

            1974-1975       Harold G. “King” Miller, 33°

            1975-1989       Ernest Dejaiffe, 33°, MSA                             1985-2001       G. Joan Shawley

            1989-1996       Richard D. Gunsallus, 33°

            1996-2001       Richard L. Swartz, 32°, MSA                                    2001-Present… a host of staff persons

            2001-2003       Manual M. Pena, 32°                                      followed here including:  Beth Houp,

            2003-2005       Richard G. Brown, 32°                                   Nicole Byler, Cindy Shumate, Allison

            2005- Present  J. David Kline, 33°                                         Duclo, Darlene Horton, and Angelina Reed.

 

Again, as I reflected over the multitude of material, I found several things stand out… the family picnics appeared to be a strong, annual affair  held each summer until 1976 in the Blair County area, whether at Lakemont Park, Morrison’s Cove, or Bland Park. For whatever reason, beginning in 1977, a “Family Night” program replaced the picnic for a number of years.  Then, in 1993, the picnic resurfaced and apparently continued strong until just a few years ago.  The last picnic was at Bland Park in 2006.  The attendance continued to drop off as did membership in the Valley.  Currently, the Valley has a membership of approximately 1,960 + 86 Senior members.  Attendance at regularly stated meetings has decreased as well.  There appear to be more demands on our time…families are involved in many more school events than in years gone by,  the membership is aging and some in ill health.  Cost could well be another factor.  In recent economic times, everything seems to cost more, regardless of higher incomes!

 

A part of history always includes some trials and tribulations!  The Valley has gone through their tribulation just recently.  It seems that the latest Office Manager thought the Valley funds were hers as well!  She stole over $76,000 from the Valley through the illegal use of a credit card and by embezzling funds from the checking account!  As of this printing (December, 2008), she has yet to go to court for her wrongdoings.  The Valley, obviously, continues to now watch the funds very closely!

 

All that being said, however, let us try to focus on the brighter side of our history!  The Valley continues to attempt to interest Master Masons in Scottish Rite Masonry.  Although classes have been small, an attempt has been made to continue with initiations.  The Executive Board did decide to hold only one Reunion each year, and this would be in the Spring.  This gives the degree casts more time to rehearse, the brethren more time to recruit, and keep the overall costs lower. 

 

Blood donor programs continue to be at least a yearly project.  However, under the direction of Bro. Randy E. Smith, 32°, the current Thrice Potent Master and soon to be Commander-in-Chief, the Valley has become involved in a “Blood Donor” program sponsored by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.  In a nutshell, for every pint of blood collected, Grand Lodge will reimburse the Valley $10.00.  As a result, there will be more bloodmobiles scheduled each year!

 

Since 2008, the office worker, Angelina Reed, was found guilty and was sentenced to 9 months in jail (Blair County).  She served that term and was released from jail in April, 2010.  As of December 2010, total restitution in the amount of $193.50 has been received…a far cry from what she still owes the Valley!

 

On a sad note, the Valley lost a number of Honorary Brethren in a relatively short period of time.  Ill. Brethren Harold Mallow, James English, Howard Speece, and Dean Phillips all passed away in the last 18 months (as of September, 2010).

 

Another sad time in our brief history…the 32° Masonic Learning Center, a project that lasted for just over 10 years in this Valley, was forced to close its doors effective the start of the 2009-2010 school year.  Funding guidelines changed at the Supreme Council level and a greater demand was placed on individual Valleys to support and sustain the centers.  Although fund-raising efforts were instituted, the Valley just could not raise enough money to keep it going.  As a result, it closed with all records sent to Supreme Council, the building vacated, and materials either moved to and utilized by the office or sold at auction  prices.

 

Richard L. Swartz, 32°, MSA, our long-time Hospitaler, resigned after 5+ years of service and was replaced by Rev. Dr. Robert Ludrowsky, 32° in June, 2010.

 

A highlight of recent years was the October 30th, 2010 “One Day Masonic Adventure” instituted by the RWGM Thomas K. Sturgeon, 33°.  We gained an additional 66 new members of Scottish Rite.  The day went well with the Valley performing the following degrees:  4°, 31°, and 32°.