Living, Enduring Tribute Continues Decades of Charity for Children’s Home Through Major Gift Given by Mrs. Evelyn Hunter-Longdon, Inspired by Love and Example
On October 9, 2016, as part of another Homecoming Celebration for the alumni and families of The Masonic Home for Children, formerly known and remembered as Oxford Orphanage, a historic announcement was made during Sunday Church Service. With the establishment of The E. Hunter-Longdon Chapel Fund at The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford, Mrs. Evelyn Hunter-Longdon was honored for her gift funding the Home’s newest endowment for the support maintenance, improvement, spiritual development, and related items specific to the York Rite Chapel at MHCO, supporting the spiritual development of every resident who worships here, now and in perpetuity. With this generous fund, an annual distribution will be made, specific to the needs of the Home’s church and those who call on it for faith and support. Yet the story behind this gift is over four decades old, beginning with a cherished marriage and the past of a young man, raised at a similar home by the Masons of Pennsylvania.
That young man was Brother James Stanley Longdon, who began his support of The Masonic Home for Children at Oxford as early as 1970. With that first gift began a charitable relationship that has spanned over 40 years and continues today even since his passing in 1996. Brother Longdon’s relationship with Oxford started well before that first donation, at a Home much like MHCO. A resident of the Masonic Children’s Home of Pennsylvania Brother Stan spent the years 1917-1921 under the care of the Masons, following the death of his father and through the kind works of his mother. It was his mother, the first Worthy Matron of Pittsburgh, who with the Masons, lovingly placed her son at the Home in the early 1900s.
A fall as a young man while at the Home in Pennsylvania caused a serious injury to Brother Stan, almost leading to his death. After a year at the hospital and under the care of the Masons, he left the institution to live with his grandmother, working during the day, attending college at night, and vowing to succeed so that he could one day care for those youth, like him, who needed a Home and a family. With his life and his success, he vowed to give back as a Mason and as a child of an orphanage.
Even after his passing he has done just that, through the life and love of his cherished wife, Mrs. Evelyn Hunter-Longdon. Mrs. Evelyn, as she is affectionate know throughout the Home, took the vows as the wife of Brother Stan in 1983. As his friend, partner, and wife, she stood as the heart and soul of Brother Stan’s life, as well as the one he passed his commitment of charity to. During their 13 years together Mrs. Evelyn learned about Masonry, about charity, and how Brother Stan’s own life and success was shaped by the hands and hearts of men committed to a Home like the one in Oxford.
Mrs. Evelyn has remembered Stan’s passions for helping others, not only for the meaning and importance in his life, but for every child today who shall have a claim upon the purpose of this Home. With this in mind Mrs. Evelyn has continued the legacy of Brother Stan’s charity, both at the Home in Pennsylvania, and here, at your Home in Oxford. A record of their giving shows the establishment of the “Longdon Best Kept Cottage Fund” in 1971 and the Evelyn and Stanley Longdon Education Endowment at MHCO in 2006, an incredibly generous and perpetual gift that was given as a result of Brother Stanley naming this Home in his will. These and others given by both have come through a variety of individual gifts all the result of their heart, their charity, and Brother Stan’s path in life.
On this special day in October and with this latest gift for the Home, the children and families of MHCO, both past and present, gathered at church to recognize this cherished member of our Masonic Home family. With the comments of Oxford Orphanage alumnus and Chairman of the Board of Directors Dan Rice (68’) and to the applause of over 100 alumni and family members, Mrs. Evelyn Hunter-Longdon was honored as one touched by the compulsion and compassion of Masonry, so much so that it continues to compel her kindness for MHCO and its children. The fund given by Mrs. Evelyn is the largest in the history of the York Rite Chapel, since its construction in the 1950s.