Chronology of Masonic Charity In Oklahoma From 1888
Fourteenth Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the Indian Territory. A resolution was presented and adopted as follows:
Resolved, that a Special Commission be appointed to devise a plan for the systematic education of Masonic orphans, raise funds therefore and secure a legal title to a suitable body of land on which to erect a Masonic Orphanage for the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory.
Fifteenth Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the Indian Territory. A report by M\W\ Joseph Murrow that a letter had been sent to all the Lodges asking for contributions to the Home.
Address by Grand Master James A. Scott to the Grand Lodge of the Indian Territory meeting at Vinita, stressing the importance of work on establishing the Children’s Home.
At the Twenty-Sixth Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the Indian Territory held at Wynnewood, the Grand Secretary again calls the attention of the Craft to the importance of the Home.
Brother Henry Furman is made Financial Agent for the Home’s Fund. The records of the Indian Territory Grand Lodge communications over the next several years show that he dedicated great amounts of time, personal sacrifice, and resources to the project. He seems to have single-handedly gotten the project off the ground.
M\W\ Brother William L. Eagleton in the Eighth Annual Communication of the Oklahoma Territory Grand Lodge, announces the need for a Home for widows and orphans, and suggests that it be financed by a per-capita tax on Members. The motion is adopted. Other resolutions provide that the Grand Secretary will collect and the Grand Treasurer will deposit the funds. A Board is appointed.
M\W\ Henry Furman, G.M., reports to the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory on the progress in collecting the fund for the Home in Indian Territory.
The Grand Master adds:
Can you, as a self-respecting Mason, see this work going on and take no part in it? The great secret of happiness in this life is to make others happy. If you have done so you know that this is true. If you have never tried to do so then indeed has your progress in masonry been in vain and the labors of your Brethren in your behalf been for naught.
The Trustees of the Orphan’s Home Fund made a report showing the fund at $10,445.17.
At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the Indian Territory held in Tulsa, it is reported that the endowed fund of $50,000 has been completed.
At the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory at South McAlester, the Masonic Home Committee reports that no offers for the Home location have been made. An offer is then read from Atoka for a temporary location for the Home in an existing facility. The proposal includes an offer from the Eastern Star to charge a per-capita tax on its members to support the Home.
The Grand Master then appointed the first Board of Control:
J.G. Ralls – Atoka William Busby – McAlester Henry M. Furman – Ada Lewis R. Nash – Ft. Gibson
First meeting of the Home Board of Control. William Busby elected President, and J.G. Ralls elected Secretary.
Home opens, with Brother George C. Sanders as Superintendent. (23 children)
Due to the ill health of his wife, Brother Sanders resigns as Superintendent and is replaced by Brother R.W. Choate.
Mrs. Emma Telle named Matron in Charge of the Home.
The Oklahoma Territory Grand Lodge receives the report from Brother W. L. Eagleton that the $50,000 endowment fund has been accomplished.
The two Grand Lodges are united to form the Grand Lodge of the State of Oklahoma.
At the Grand Lodge session on 1909, a committee consisting of William Busby, Joseph Ralls and C.L. Reeder was appointed to find a permanent location for the Home.
The Committee visits the “Darlington Reservation” and investigates the possibilities. They were greatly impressed by what they saw.
Later in that year William Busby visits Washington and secures the introduction and passage of an Act of Congress which allows the Fraternity to purchase the Darlington property at the appraised value.
At the Annual Communication, the report of the committee informs the Grand Lodge that the space at Darlington is ample for the present and future needs of the Home. There are several cottages which can be used for elderly Master Masons or their widows. They also announce their hope to build a college on the property.
The Home is removed from Atoka to Darlington. (65 children)
The Home Board of Control reports to the Grand Lodge session on the condition of the Home property and on the progress made in making it ready.
The Grand Chapter, O.E.S., votes funds to build a chapel on the Darlington property.
Fire destroyed the old commissary building which was being used as a power plant and industrial school.
Grand Master O. Lonzo Conner suggests that there should be a separate Home for the Aged, and recommends an appropriation to build such a Home.
At a meeting of the Home Board of Control, an offer is made by the Scottish Rite Consistory at Guthrie to allow the Grand Lodge to use the Guthrie property as the Home.
Materials are developed and sent to each of the Lodges, explaining the pros and cons of moving the Home. Each Lodge is instructed to make the information available to the members and to vote on whether or not to move the Home when it holds its annual election of officers. The results are to be forwarded to the Grand Lodge.
At the Annual Communication, a vote on moving the Home is taken. The results are:
Guthrie – 876 Muskogee – 208 Darlington – 10 Norman – 1
It was then decided to make the vote unanimous in favor of Guthrie.
Hawk and Parr, Architects, was selected as the firm to design the Children’s Home, and later the Home for the Aged as well. Campbell and Price, of Oklahoma City, was selected as the contractor.
The Home moves to Guthrie. (106 children) (15 adults) Everyone is moved into the “Old Statehouse”.
Moved into Children’s Home. (66 boys) (48 girls) (21 men) (5 women)
Announcement is made of an agreement with the State of Oklahoma to sell the Darlington property to the state to be used for a hospital for the treatment of drug and liquor addicts.
After commenting on how well the children in the Home are doing in Guthrie, Grand Master Henry S. Johnston commented on the importance of establishing a separate Home for the Aged rather than continuing to house the two populations together.
“The old people must be gotten out of the Home. Elderly men smoke and chew and swear and old men and elderly men and elderly women both grouch and complain, and the very playfulness which makes a boy the delight of a parent, the sunbeam of a home, renders him an object of aversion to some elderly persons who are not related to the boy or interested in him, especially when his noise and play clashes with their past habits of life or the condition of nerves of the elderly person.”
A hospital, fully equipped except for an operating room, is established on the third floor of the Children’s Home.
Six story Masonic Home for the Aged is occupied. (27 men) (10 women) Brother William A. Hopkins and his wife are engaged to serve as managers of the facility.
By motion made and passed by the Grand lodge Session, the Home for the Aged is given the official name of the Charles L. Reeder Dormitory.
Also, a committee is formed to work with the Home Board of Control to create an outreach program to offer help and guidance to young men and women when they graduate from the Masonic Children’s Home.
The Grand Lodge approves a motion directing the Incorporation of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma, and authorizing it to receive and disburse funds and receive and dispose of property. Organization begins on July 9th. Lew Wentz is first President, Rufus Renfrew is first Secretary.
A report is received by the Grand Lodge, documenting the establishment of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma in much the form it operates today. Membership in the Homes: Children’s Home, 118: Home for the Elderly, 88.
The Children’s Home adds vocational training facilities; Masonic Print Shop established.
Grand Master Joseph Drouot establishes the permanent endowment fund of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma.
Vocational Building erected at Children’s Home by Royal Arch Masons. H.L. Muldrow becomes Secretary of the Foundation.
First moving picture made of the Homes, showing the building and daily life.
A special issue of the Masonic Home News traces the history and development of the Masonic Charity Foundation.
Assets of the Masonic Charity Foundation exceed $200,000.
The Masonic cemetery at Darlington is removed to Guthrie.
Upon the death of Lew Wentz, Rufus Renfrew becomes President of the Foundation. Assets of the Masonic Charity Foundation pass $1,000,000.
1950 – 1954
Programs continue to expand at both facilities. The Children’s Home adds additional vocational training; the Home for the Aged increases hospital and nursing home services.
Because additional space is needed for the Home for the Aged, ground is broken for a four-story Annex to the Home, together with a new Grand Lodge Building.
Cornerstones laid for Annex and Grand Lodge Building.
New Annex is occupied. (Total in both buildings – 107) (78 women, 29 men)
On recommendation of Grand Master W. Ralph Howard, the Children’s Home is opened to all children in need, regardless of Masonic affiliation.
Opened single floor Solarium Building next to Home for the Aged.
Assets of Masonic Charity Foundation pass $5,000,000.
The second film featuring the Home, Oklahoma Masonic Heritage, is produced.
The first deaths occur in Viet Nam of soldiers who grew up in the Children’s Home.
Due to changes in IRS regulations, changes are made in the Articles of Incorporation of the Masonic Charity Foundation. The Grand Lodge Trustees ratify the changes.
Serious discussion begins about the necessity of building a new Home for the Aged or completely remodeling the existing facilities.
The Research and Development Committee of the Grand Lodge formally recommends that the new Home for the Aged be constructed. Further, as changes in the state’s foster children program have reduced the need for the Children’s Home, and there are now only 10 children being served, they recommend that the Home be closed and the children be cared for in an alternative facility.
The Grand Lodge votes to build a new Home for the Aged in Guthrie.
Construction begins on new Home.
Cornerstone is laid by M\W\ LeRoy Hudson for the new Home for the Aged.
Members are moved from the old six story Home for the Aged to the new Home west of Guthrie. (76 Residents moved). The old Home for the Aged is closed. The Four Story Annex building remains open.
With only three children remaining in the Children’s Home, caused by a multitude of government programs serving children, the Home is closed and the children placed in foster homes.
All charitable activity of the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma is transferred to the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma. Assets of the Foundation exceed $13,000,000. First professional office with full staff is established. Prior to this time, the Secretaries had worked from their own homes or offices and without the assistance of staff.
The Lodge Matching Fund Program is established to help local Lodges meet charitable needs of their communities.
The Foundation’s first computer is purchased. With programming developed in-house, the computer serves the Homes, the Foundation, and the Grand Lodge. Remote terminals add to the efficiency of the program.
The first grants are made under the Foundation’s Children in Crisis Program. This program provides major grants to groups working with Children at risk in some way.
The Foundation adopts a professionally-designed, governmentally approved retirement plan for its nearly 100 employees. Also, the Foundation builds a new wing on the Home for the Aged to house a new laundry, storage facilities for members, and a mechanical shop.
The Masonic Charity Foundation joins with the Oklahoma Grand Lodge in supporting the National hospital Visitation program of the Masonic Service Association. Through this effort, hospital counselors are currently serviced in both U.S. Veteran’s Hospitals and in some state Veterans Hospitals.
The “Partners in Prevention” program in conjunction with the Oklahoma Society for the Prevention of Blindness is established whereby local lodges assist with screening for vision problems in school children and the elderly.
Laundry is moved from Children’s Home to new wing in rear of the new Home building.
Name changed from Masonic Home for Aged to Oklahoma Masonic Home.
Ground is broken for the permanent offices of the Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma.
The Masonic Charity Foundation of Oklahoma establishes the Masonic Leadership Institute for the purposes of developing programs in Masonic training and education.
Cornerstone of the Foundation’s offices is laid.
Four Story Annex building is closed.
Four Story Annex building is sold.
Old six story building is donated to Logan County.
Solarium building is sold to Logan County.
Due to under usage of the Oklahoma Masonic Home, caused by a multitude of government programs serving the elderly, the Board of Directors voted to phase out the Home.
23 of 37 Residents at the Oklahoma Masonic Home were moved to various facilities in Guthrie, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Moore, Noble, Purcell and Wichita Falls, Texas and Plano, Texas.
Oklahoma Masonic Home building is sold.
14 Residents remain at the Oklahoma Masonic Home building which continues to operate as the Oklahoma Masonic Home.
Promises Matter program established to assist every needy Master Mason, his wife, widow and mother in Oklahoma; plus female Eastern Star members.
10 remaining Residents at the Oklahoma Masonic Home building are moved to various nursing facilities in Guthrie.
Web page created and toll free number added to assist Lodges.
Oklahoma Senior Assistance Program began. First joint project with Oklahoma Association of Area Agencies on Aging. $596,359 was given for the first year to assist Oklahoma Seniors.
Prevent Blindness Oklahoma in partnership with Oklahoma Masons screened the one millionth child on February 1, 2008.
The Oklahoma Centennial Bands uniforms were sponsored by the Masons of Oklahoma.
The Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma sponsored the re-enactment of the Constitutional Convention at the Guthrie Scottish Rite Masonic Center.
Joe R. Manning, Jr. who served the Foundation since 1983 as its Executive Director retired. In his quarter century of leadership, the Foundation established numerous successful programs which were replicated throughout the country.
John L. Logan began his tenure as Executive Director.
The Foundation, on behalf of the Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma endowed a Chair for the study of masculinity at Oklahoma State University.
The Foundation furnished the Masonic Fraternity of Oklahoma Alzheimer’s Research Laboratory at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation in Oklahoma City. This laboratory will study this disease which primarily affects senior citizens.
The Foundation was named the Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation of the year by the Oklahoma Chapter of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals.
The Foundation received a Beacon Award from the Journal Record for their work with Prevent Blindness Oklahoma over the years.
The Foundation presented each of the six Oklahoma Regional Universities with a $100,000 grant to be used in such things as Citizenship and Leadership, Cultural Enrichment Programming, Academic Enrichment Programming, Profession Development and Lectureship Series and Transformative Learning.