For more than 140 years the main building on the campus of The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford has stood as the first place of entry for all those seeking the purpose of its mission. Over time two buildings have stood in its place, but this one location has remained as the initial point of shelter for over 15,000 children apart from their families, seeking the comfort, support, and possibilities found in Oxford. It only seemed fitting that this singular spot now be recognized by the name of a person whose tireless and faithful years of service have supported more young souls and with them, hopes and dreams, at this place than any other in Home’s history. On a very special night in February 2016, Brother Donald Sizemore was honored for not only his work for over four decades at then Oxford Orphanage, but for the young lives helped and held by him as he traveled across North Carolina serving as the guardian of those in need of a Home.
Surrounded by his two daughters, one son, three grandchildren, wife of forty years Annette, and over 160 friends, many of who worked with Donald or knew him as their first contact with the Home as children of Oxford, Donald Lawrence Sizemore was honored with the naming of the “Donald L. Sizemore Reception Lobby” in the St. John’s Building on the campus of The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford. A proclamation from the City of Oxford, the only place (besides Disney World and a stint in the US Army) that Brother Sizemore had ever known, was delivered by Oxford City Mayor Jackie Sergent. With the proclamation from her office and the City Commissioners she acknowledged the life’s work of Brother Sizemore and his importance to not only the Masonic Home for Children, but to the City of Oxford. With old friends, co-workers, and the children of the Home, young and old, who came to know him as a father-figure in their lives, stories were told with exaggeration, enjoyment, and emotion. Board Chairman and Oxford Orphanage Alumnus Dan Rice was a child of Donald’s, living in his cottage and growing with him in Masonry and in life. He spoke of the impact Brother Sizemore had in rearing him as a young man and in raising him as a Masonic leader. The current Grand Master, Bryant Webster, spoke of the heart and constitution exhibited by Brother Sizemore in decades of working with families and their children, often serving as the agent of change in both lives. Tales of humor and happiness came as alumni and co-workers took the podium, each more than the next, emphasizing the impact and influence of Donald Sizemore in their lives.
A biography of the man speaks to only a small portion of his place in the path of so many. For one who rarely left his home in Oxford, (or even the location of the Children’s Home, which he has never lived more than three miles from in his life!), Brother Sizemore’s work and words were global. He began his incredible career at Oxford Orphanage on June 1, 1964 as the Cottage Counselor for 3B – the oldest boys’ cottage. In the years following he served as Caseworker, the Little League Baseball and Football Coach, the Head of the Sunday School Department and finally as the Admissions Director. He served with seven Superintendents during his 40 years at the Home. As a Mason, he first joined the Masonic Fraternity April 4, 1965 as a member of Oxford Lodge No. 122 where he served as Master and then Secretary for over 30 years. He is a Charter Member of Orphans Lodge No. 761, received the Distinguished Secretary’s Award from the Grand Lodge of NC and the highest award that can be bestowed upon a Freemason by the Grand Master of North Carolina, The Joseph Montfort Award.
As the evening came to a close Donald’s daughter Jill gave final thoughts and in doing so noted that while her father was many things to those at the Orphanage, to her he was simply “Daddy”. The celebration continued as additional gifts of recognition were presented by the MHCO Board of Directors, OO/MHCO Alumni Association, and the Administration of The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford. As beloved a person as any in recent years at the Children’s Home, crowds remained for pictures and tales that continued well into the night. The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford thanks all who came to share in this special evening honoring a treasured person in the history of MHCO and the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of children at our Home. With this night, this naming, and this recognition, once again, Brother Sizemore will welcome all children in search of hope and a home, as he did for over 40 faithful years, to his Home in Oxford.