Masons From the 41st Masonic District Travel to Oxford with special Monument, Message

Well before the sun rose over the mountains of Western North Carolina, fifteen brothers from various Lodges in the 41st Masonic District, the District farthest West  in North Carolina, boarded a bus for a long and special journey to visit the The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford.  Their trek on August 22, 2015 actually started two years earlier.  Seeing an article in the NC Mason, regarding recent improvements to the Children’s Home Cemetery, “God’s Half-Acre”, Past Master, Worshipful Brother Ronnie Smith of Clay Lodge No. 301 had an idea.  In reading of the recent contribution of a new fence, courtesy of Past Grand Master Dewey Preslar, Jr. and his wife Terrie, Brother Smith was moved by the generosity given to the DSC_0097Home and to such a sacred place.  He knew the brethren of the 41st district could join Brother Prelsar in his efforts to honor this place and those young lives buried there.

With the generous support of his District and after several meetings it was decided that a “part of the land” of this group of Lodges would be delivered to the cemetery, there to honor those unnamed graves of children.  Over 80 years ago, the cemetery’s markers had to be engraved with “Records Lost” after a fire destroyed the only accounts listing those lost to flu or other illness in the care of the home from 1873 to 1920.  Learning of this special group of “unnamed” children, Brother Smith found his way to give back to those whose final resting place as a child was the Masonic Home for Children.

Brethren from Clay, Cherokee, Marble Springs, Montgomery, and Andrews Lodges accompanied a beautiful piece of blue marble, which was unearthed from the mountains of Marble, NC.  Honed and engraved the stone was gently placed near the entrance to the cemetery, indicating those who brought it and in honor and memorial of the “unnamed children” whose final resting place was “God’s Half-Acre”.  Of special note was a guest on this day, Past Grand Master Dewey Preslar, Jr. whose gift to the Home and the cemetery was the inspiration for the trip and the gift of those in the 41st district.  “They are all our children”, said Brother Preslar, “regardless of a name or a reason and they rely on us to DSC_0100be a part of their lives.  This is the same for those children living at your Home today”.  Before closing with prayer and with pictures and tours taken prior to their departure to tour the other Masonic Charity of North Carolina, Whitestone, Brother Smith thanked all those who made the trip and in attendance.  He spoke of the inspiration and the feeling he had, so strong in its power on him to make a difference.  Twenty years removed from his last visit to the Home, (as it is a long, long way to travel!), Brother Smith knew he had to return, bringing new Masons who had never seen the Home, and a new message, courtesy of the 41st Masonic District, that this will always be a place for children, thanks to their Masons.


 Major Gift for Home’s Outdoor Lighting Project Announced, Celebrated

DSC_0038For those who know him Brother E. Earl Wells is normally associated with the lights of a timing monitor at the start of a drag race or those that illuminate the track he and his family own at GALOT Motorsports Park near Benson, North Carolina.  But former MHCO Board Member and co-founder of S&W Concrete is now responsible for a different kind of light, one that delivers safety, security, and comfort to the lives of children living at The  Masonic Home for Children at Oxford.  On August 13, 2015, the Home celebrated the major gift of Brother Wells, his wife Peggy, and this entire family with a luau-style picnic and the announcement of that contribution for the Home’s current lighting project.  Surrounded by their children and grandchildren, MHCO Board Members, close friends and the staff and children that will benefit directly for their gift, Brother and Mrs. Wells made the announcement of a major contribution towards the total cost of $200,000 that will bring new, energy efficient outdoor lighting to the entire campus of MHCO, for the first time since the 1970’s.  This gift was an incredible act of kindness and support for a desperately needed capital improvement project for the campus and the care of its kids.  Prior to the project the living environment of the children, who reside there as they have for over 142 years in homes with houseparents for daily needs and residential care, had less than 50% coverage for outdoor lighting across the campus, with many lights not-operational and older than 30 years, placing additional burden on the Home through utility costs.

DSC_0070The announcement was accompanied by a meal with the children, staff, and Board of MHCO, as well as family and close friends, as Brother Wells led the ceremonial lighting of the Home’s St. John’s Building entrance assisted by members of his family.  Administrator of the Home, Kevin Otis, recognized both the literal and symbolic light that Brother Wells and his family had shared through their generosity, giving to a need, while contributing to the overall mission of the Home, to provide guidance and security in the life of a child away from their family.  Past Grand Master Dalton Mayo, a close friend of Wells’, also commented on the significance of the gift while entertaining those in attendance of tales of their friendship.  Board Chair and Oxford Orphanage alumnus Dan Rice thanked Brother Wells for helping his home, while acknowledging how “troublesome” more lights  would have been during his time at the Orphanage as a young man in exploring the campus under the cover of darkness.  With kind and meaningful words, Brother and Mrs. Wells were joined by their children and their spouses and their grandchildren in making the presentation of the gift.  The family also participated in the unveiling of the first two banners that will be placed on several of the new lights around the campus’ main circle, indicating various sponsors of the project.

With the projects’ completion this summer a formal recognition marker is scheduled for its dedication in November 2015 at a ceremony honoring Wells and other donors, banner sponsors, individuals, and groups who had a part in this significant improvement and its benefit for the Home and the care of the children.  As the day turned to night on campus, all in attendance gathered to enjoy the new light that enveloped the campus and the homes of the children, celebrating those who made it possible.