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
Valleys…Williamsport 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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A Maundy Thursday Observance is
regularly held in Jaffa
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
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.”
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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
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°,
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
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.
Masonic Members of Blair County have been presented the Award to date:
Baker, 32º, Woodbury Lodge W. James Lee III, Mountain
Joseph Bondi Jr., Juniata
Andrew Lynch, PM, Hiram Lodge
DeLozier, 32º, DDGM, Juniata Lodge Philip
Mentzer, Juniata Lodge
32º, Woodbury Lodge Mark L. Shawley, 32º,
Hammond, 32º, Juniata Lodge Jack
Speece, 33º, PM, Hiram
Hauenstein, 33º, PDDGM, Logan Lodge William Yon, Mountain Lodge
Everett Lodge Denny Young, Juniata Lodge
Joseph L. Kaczor, Juniata
Boldfaced names are members of the Valley of Altoona).
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
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
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
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°.