Voice of the Valley – Vol I, No.1, December 2022
Voice of the Valley – Vol I, No.1, December 2022

Voice of the Valley – Vol I, No.1, December 2022

Voice of the Valley in Tally Newsletter

Vol I, No.1, December 2022

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Managing Editor: Paul R. Swanson 32˚
Executive Editor: Douglas G. Knowles 33˚

Appointed Officers of the Valley of Tallahassee
Personal Representative: Ill. Douglas G. Knowles, 33°; Assistant PR Jason E. Johnson 32°, KCCH; General Secretary Hugh W. “Wes” Prine 32° KCCH; Treasurer Gary E. Huff, 32°

Valley Elected Officers for 2023: Venerable Master John A. O’Keefe 32°; Wise Master Adrian P. Dillion, 32°, KCCH; Commander George Schumacher 32°, KCCH; Master of Kadosh David L. Vickers

General Secretary’s, December 2022 message, Voice of the Valley in Tally

Since taking the appointment as the General Secretary for the Scottish Rite Bodies of the Valley of Tallahassee, I have learned many things. For me, this it is an exciting time with lots of great potential and many possibilities. We are making positive improvements to our facility and programs. I have a few things I would like to pass on to you that may interest you.

We have established regular office hours at the Scottish Rite Center. Presently, these hours will be Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. One of the appointed officers will be in the office on these dates unless that date falls on a holiday.

We have most of your mailing addresses and emails; however, we do not have everyone. I want to stress the importance of updating your contact information. If you move or change your email, please let us know. This simple update allows us to be efficient in doing our work.

If you know of a brother who needs assistance to attend our stated meeting, please let us know. Our network of brothers may be able to help with transportation and are happy to help arrange the logistics to get the brother to the meeting. Additionally, if you have any questions regarding dues, possible reinstatements, petitions, reunions, or upcoming events, give us a call.

If you want to donate to the Scottish Rite Foundation of Florida, U.S.A., Inc. from your business or your IRA; let us help get you the tax-deductible benefits for your donation.

As part of our fundraising efforts, we are selling a very nice gentleman’s pocketknife. Contact Brother Randy Nichols (850-666-0320) to purchase one. The price is $30, and we can accept cash, check, or credit card. (Please note there is a small handling charge for using a credit card on purchases.)

Brothers, as the year comes to an end, I hope that your holiday season is blessed with health and happiness for you and yours and a prosperous new year ahead. See you in 2023.

Voice of the Valley in Tally

Freemasonry moves West with America,

by Paul R. Swanson 32°

British military lodges brought formal Freemasonry to America with the arrival of Lord Jeffrey Amherst in 1758. He engaged the French in Montreal and won. He wintered in New York while preparing for the campaign of 1759. By 1760 all of Canada was under British control. The 7-years war, known in America as the French and Indian War, with Chief Pontiac heading up the opposition was organizing and would also spread Freemasonry across the frontier of America as the British engaged their enemies further into the American frontier. American Freemasonry benefitted immensely from these militia being garrisoned in winter with little battlefield duties freeing their time for other activities.

John Skene is thought to be the first English Mason to see American land. He arrived in 1682 with family and friends and landed in New Jersey, where he became the deputy colonial governor of West Jersey.

The first Freemason born in America, Andrew Belcher was the son of a Mason Jonathan Belcher who had been the governor of Massachusetts and New Hampshire and was made a Mason in 1704. His son Andrew joined the Craft in 1733.

When nonmilitary Masonic lodges were established in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania they were not chartered by the Grand Lodge of England and thus were considered “irregular”. The pattern of gathering and conferring degrees without always obtaining a charter or warrant continued sporadically as America spread westward over the next 200 years. Usually the issue involved the slow communication for obtaining a warrant, often a year or more was involved.

America also found the source of the warrant presented conflicts. British Masonry was dominant but not exclusive. A dispensation dated November 30th, 1752 from Sholto Charles Douglas, Lord Aberdour, who was Grand Master in Scotland was received in America. The Boston petitioners were constituted a regular lodge under the title of “St. Andrews Lodge, No. 82”. This was for the province of Massachusetts Bay. Dr. Joseph Warren was chosen as the first master. Paul Revere and John Hancock were also members. They operated under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, not Britain.

To further entangle the national source of the fraternal ties many British masons in militia groups went on to the higher degrees of the York Rite, which was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Ireland. The 32 degrees and other recognitions of Masonic achievement were frequently conferred during the winter by traveling lodges, as they were to be later known. Freemasonry set an example for the war and for the country as a whole to emulate. In a paper presented 250 odd years later “Masonic Education and Service for the Grand Lodge of Texas,” The Masonic scholar James Davis Carter observes, “The role of Freemasonry and individual Masons prior to and through the American Revolution was that of the destruction of the traditional social and political order based on an authoritarian philosophy and characterized by inequality and privilege.

American Freemasons carried the ideals of equality and tolerance across the country as the westward expansion brought new territory under the dominance of the United States. The Scottish Rite’s earliest recording in America is on December 22, 1753 at Washington’s Lodge in Fredericksburg. The 33 degree was established by May 31, 1801.

English Freemasonry also had to spread south in the 13 colonies. General James Edward Oglethorpe arrived on the west bank of the Savannah River on February 12, 1733. This was the start of the province of Georgia and the southern boundary of the colonies for many years. On February 21, 1734 a lodge was opened in Savannah,

but notably without a “warrant”. Noble Jones, a friend of Oglethorpe’s was initiated as the first Freemason in Georgia. On December 2, 1735 the lodge was granted a warrant.

In his book, The Freemasons in America, by H. Paul Jeffers he writes that “It has been said that in every pioneer settlement of the west first came the church, then a school, then a Masonic lodge”. By 1892, there were fifty Grand Lodges in the United States, including one in Indian Territory, which later became the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma.

Birds of a feather are said to flock together. This was certainly true with George Washington in setting up his command, with many brothers in his administration as well. It was true of Masons Lewis and Clark too. After their “Corps of Discovery” was completed they each served as governor of the territory they’d explored and appointed a secretary, sheriff, and four judges, all of who were Freemasons.

Other Freemasons who contributed to the geographical knowledge were Kit Carson and Zebulon Pike, the latter who had the top of a mountain in Colorado named for him and became famous. He had a brother, Albert who would later become very notable in the Scottish Rite and also a famous Confederate General.

ROTC and JROTC, by Brother Randy Nichols 32°

We gave 24 awards/certificates to college/high school students in May/June 2022.

School list includes: (12)

Goby High School Air Force JROTC

Leon High School Marine JROTC

Rickards High School Army JROTC

Lincoln High School Army JROTC

Wakulla High School Navy JROTC

Franklin County High School Navy JROTC

Liberty County High School Army JROTC

Gadsden High School Army JROTC

Perry High School Army JROTC

Jefferson High School Army JROTC

FSU Army & Air Force ROTC

FAMU Navy and Marine ROTC

Mission Statement of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, SJ:

 It is the mission of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, SJ, to improve its members and enhance the communities in which they live by teaching and emulating the principles of Brotherly Love, Tolerance, Charity, and Truth, while actively embracing high social, moral, and spiritual values, including fellowship, compassion, and dedication to God, family, and country.

Cruise to the Caribbean: Ill. Richard G. Hoover 33˚, S.G.I.G. of the Supreme Council in the Orient of Florida 7 First Lady Bobby Hoover invites you to join them for a fun-filled fundraising cruise in March 2023! Cruise dates are March 27-April 1, 2023. The cruise will be on the Brilliance of the SEA, Royal Caribbean Line. Call Jen Jackson, All Vista Travel, (408) 250-5826, or email at jen@allvistaTravel.com .Contact now or prior to December 27, 2022, to arrange booking. Prices vary depending on cabin selection. Please note that this information was sent to all members we have with a current email address a couple of months ago.

Brothers and Daughters of the Nile

Please be sure to coordinate all activities to be held in the Scottish Rite     Center in February and March before January 23, 2022.

From David Tranchand 32°,

Trustee for the Valley of Tallahassee,

Scottish Rite Foundation USA, Inc,

I was recently honored to have been asked to serve as Chair of our 501(c)(3) Scottish Rite Foundation of Florida USA, Inc.  Many of you are members of the Millionaires or Billionaires Clubs due to your consistent and generous annual support of this important fund.  Two important points you should be aware of are first, the goal of the fund is to provide children with the skills to advance educationally, socially and lead productive lives. Second, all donations made to the Foundation are used locally to support members of the Tallahassee Community.

Our Foundation, which is our primary charity, has helped raise funding for children who have difficulty speaking or understanding the spoken word or school-age children who have difficulty in learning language, hearing and speaking.  Thousands of youngsters across the state of Florida have been helped through your contributions and fund-raising efforts, and our partnership with the L.L. Schendel Speech and Hearing Clinic,

Schendel, which is managed and staffed by Florida State University faculty and clinicians, and graduate students who are preparing themselves for careers in this field.

A small delegation of fund trustees recently visited the Schendel Clinic, which recently moved to a newly renovated, 5 story building in downtown Tallahassee.  We were met by the Clinic Director and spoke to several staff and graduate students.  On entering the clinic, we were pleased to see a large plaque honoring the Scottish Rite, Valley of Tallahassee, for their significant contributions to the program. You deserve to feel good about what we do!

Sincerely and fraternally,
David J. Tranchand 32°
Foundation Chair

Ill. Douglas G. Knowles, 33°, Personal Representative,
Valley of Tallahassee, Orient of Florida

Where do we go from here?

With the loss of leadership in our valley January 2022, we have found ourselves assigned new responsibilities and new members have stepped up. Several situations developed requiring attention. Due to newly discovered issues, we are working to develop a more secure foundation for our valley. Such is the nature of our fraternity.

As I get a better understanding of the rules of our Rite, I hope to produce a worthy set of long-range goals with elected leadership input.  Here are a few current short-range goals:

ROTC: Bro Randy Nichols has helped get the program up and running smoothly. This year we hope to further expand our member participation in this program.

Reunions: We have the digital format for all the 2005 revisions to each degree in house. Scripts can now be delivered to each actor to be practiced well in advance of the reunion. The long-range goal is to set aside cue cards and provide a professional presentation for our new members allowing for a better new member experience.

Newsletter: We have ideas for both mailings and digital delivery of a periodic newsletter for the membership. Stay tuned, every member needs to take steps to allow for delivery of a newsletter digitally. (This means “Please provide a working email address asap!)   If you need help, we have several members who could help you get set up.

Snail mail is cost prohibitive for monthly delivery.

Fundraising is a priority! Our charitable purpose is to raise funds for children with special needs in language development, speech, and hearing. More effort is needed in Fund Raising events, both ideas and participation is appreciated.

We need participation from every member who is physically able. Every single Scottish Rite member is important, and several of you have not been involved for some time. We want you back brothers. If there is an issue holding you back from attending some of our planned events, please share them with either myself or our General Secretary. Perhaps we can help.

I hope to reduce the number of stated meetings from 12 to 8 next year. The months we do not have a stated meeting I hope to insert social events for our members families and the masonic community we serve. Stay tuned for more information on these upcoming activities.

Brother Paul Swanson, a member of our valley has put together a “best practices” paper after visiting other highly successful valleys this year. We are currently taking these ideas and evaluating them. From this we will draw our long-range plans for returning our valley to success, both monetarily and with membership growth for the future.

We are creating a “PASSPORT” for our reunions. Unfortunately, we don’t have a template. So, we are reaching out other valleys to find out how they created theirs. Stay tuned for more information on that project.

The Master Craftsman course is truly worthy. We are setting a goal to get our members, especially our newest members to complete the course in the next 3 years.

I have implemented a change of attire for stated meetings. Please wear a suit in December, January and whenever the SGIG visits. Please note and support this change. Our purple shirts that have our Valley logo are encouraged as a uniform at the rest of the events. We encourage the wear of kaki or black pants when wearing the purple shirt.

We are continuing to revise the Double Eagle program to support all the work members have contributed to our valley. This is an ongoing effort, but it is a reward recognizing the hard work and contributions of our members.

 Our mission statement for our valley is to increase fraternal friendship among our members and in our Masonic community. We hope that through these efforts the members and their families will enjoy attending our events. Additionally, be proud fundraising ambassadors for the Scottish Rite charity. Remember, we are the premier body in Freemasonry for making good men better!

Brothers, we have lost 35 members since 2019. While we have read their names in our meetings in remembrance of them, we are also listing the members who passed in the last 2 years. However, we have gained 23 new members and 8 reinstatements in the last 2 years for a total increase of 31 members.

Brothers who passed in 2022
Luther Bodiford III, 33°
Walter S. Henderson, 32°
Michael F. Meadowcroft, 32°
R.D. White Jr., 32°
Winton O. White, 32°

Franklin W. Carraway, 32°
James H. Howland, 32°, KCCH
Kenneth E. Cooksey, 32°
Rex M. Davie, 32°
William H. Reed, 32°

Circle of Concern

Please keep these Brothers in your thoughts and prayers

Larry Parish,

Jason Johnson,

Adrian Dillion


If you know of a member/family member in sickness or distress, please call the office (850-212-0448) so they can be put of our Circle of Concern list. Thank you!

This FAMU ROTC Unit picture was taken after the cadets were presented certificates and medals by Brother Randy Nichols and the Personal Representative, Illustrious Douglas Knowles, 33°.

Some of the Valley of Tallahassee brothers went to the L. L. Schendel Speech and Hearing Clinic where we were given a tour and met the many members of the staff. They gave presentations on the work they do to assist the children with their special needs. 

Those present in the picture are Brothers Bill Eichhoefer 32°, Randy Nichols 32°, Keiffer Lindsey 32°, KCCH, a staff member, Tricia Montgomery, Ph.D., Director, George Schumacher 32°, KCCH, Illustrious Douglas Knowles 33° and Personal Representative of the Valley of Tallahassee, David Tranchand 32°, and Gary Huff 32°.

In addition to the new plaque presented to the clinic director,  Ms. Montgomery, there is another plaque on the wall inside the clinic next to the check-in/reception area.


Please, if you have not provided an email address to our Valley office, do so now. We want to communicate with you using email as it costs NOTHING to send one to you. The cost to send you a notice by snail mail is approximately 1-2 dollars. If a letter is returned that is an additional cost due to “no forwarding address”. 

In addition, we would appreciate you letting us know your new phone number. 

It takes you just minutes to give us a number. It takes our office staff many minutes searching for a new address or resending a letter.  Again, please assist us with this small request. We know time is valuable and we thank you for taking some of yours to help us help you.

Scottish Rite Best Practices gathered in 2022 from visits to Jacksonville Scottish Rite during their reunion and the Des Moines Scottish Rite during their reunion.

By Paul R. Swanson, MSM

As most brothers know I have a business education background with a MSM (Master of Science in Management) from Troy State which built on an undergraduate in Sociology. The emphasis was on people and their motivations. My USN and later industrial work experience since retiring involves quality management (Lean and Six Sigma) and industrial cultural changes.

While I am capable and may in the future elaborate this effort into a proper SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities & threats) analysis along with the more in-depth McKensie 7-S analysis for the soft skills this report is just a quick summary of applicable benchmarks which we can lift from the very successful groups visited and hopefully shorten our time to achieve similar results to what they are seeing. If someone has an interest or other ideas for building membership, please feel free to contact me.

Most of my brothers know I wrote a book on rebuilding volunteer group membership years ago. The Empowered Volunteers Rebuild America: One Fraternal, Civic and Veterans Group at a Time has not resonated with any masonic groups in the country to date. My efforts to put out this paper on best practices reflect many of the ideas from that book which have proven valid and worthy in industry or other applications.

This is a short summary of immediate action tasks to build the membership with an emphasis on younger men of energy and quality.

Each year, after the lodges have elected their officers (in January), the SR of DM hosts all 19 area lodge officers and interested members who wish to attend, to a sit-down meal, for free. The idea is to gather some ideas on how to help the newly elected members have a successful year as well as to introduce the Scottish Rite and what we can do to help them immediately in their efforts to be successful. This first impression is vital to changing negative perceptions, if any exists from the past. I am told this really works wonders for changing perceptions and setting the tone for the year of cooperation rather than the potential conflict and in strengthening the lodges. Real world efforts are made for cooperation for the benefit of everyone! They position themselves as the leaders early in the year and they don’t stop all year with this message.

Reunions, set up and execution. Reunions are NOT the primary focus of the group, fostering a proper Masonic public perception is. Reunions are very heavily attended and are of course important. But the biggest selling point for a visitor to SR of Jacksonville is their huge emphasis on comradery. Every visiting brother is welcomed, if they are interested, given a tour of the building, which depicts the 31st degree. The enthusiasm and energy in their valley is infectious. A similar experience was had at the SR in Des Moines.

Both groups have taken years to get to this point of excellence. Ten to twenty years in both cases to fully see the results I experienced. They put on all degrees, with the Valley of Des Moines doing one degree as a full musical. Both have prop rooms which issue costumes, people dedicated to setting up props, etc. They also have huge buildings which they rent out, use as tax shelters, etc. None of this building maintenance pertains to us so I only note that it is part of their journey. We don’t have a large building so our time to achieve a membership upswing of young brothers need not be so involved, nor as long. One valley recently spent $350,000 just for a roof. Our building costs are not as large happily.

Reunions are now reflecting the 2005 revisions for degree work in both valleys and will in ours in the next reunion. Each degree presented has a degree master. The Valley of Jacksonville sent out to the group a digital copy of the degree. They shared all the degrees with us, so we now have a digital copy of each degree as well. The members receive the copy, and in working with the degree master pick parts and print dialog copies for practice.

It is a group effort for each degree. I was told that in the last few years the Valley of DM has finally been showing all the degrees, with no cue cards or printouts, all memory. It took time to build up this talent. Jacksonville is also nearly all memory.

Double Eagle Awards vary. In Des Moines the awards are very few, around 15 to 20 for a population of nearly one thousand. Jacksonville was nearer to our criteria, and it was also more often worn by the membership as I talked to them. The Valley of DM criteria can be viewed on their webpage, but I found it not something we are likely to want to copy.

Showcase the group. A huge factor in building membership for the Valley of DM is what they call showcase. It involves both showing off the membership, the building, and the fraternity of Freemasonry. It is a meal, well provided where members bring prospective recruits for either Freemasonry or Scottish Rite or both. They give a rotating 20-minute presentation, which is not the same each time and the guests eat free. This is credited with lots of bonding and membership building! Since our building isn’t as grand or old to showcase, it was suggested we eat out and do the presentation at the venue we eat at. This would take some organization.

Membership appreciation night. The emphasis for both valleys is on fun, fun, fun. They keep in touch with the membership and especially the younger men and what they want. Both groups said their success is to stress community and comradery.

Socializing, particularly family-friendly events, are what younger men are looking for in a place to join. Please note, both valleys will serve forms of alcohol at select events. This too is popular.

This membership appreciation event is free, very fine food is served and directed toward the family involvement. It has several aspects which we might need some creativity to copy like different presentations in different rooms for the different guests’ tastes (history, old relics to be viewed, etc.), but we could solicit input and act accordingly. Again, this event helps get brothers not involved back into the building and potentially back involved while the family members are seeing that the mason they know isn’t involved in anything nefarious. This aspect helps settle any issues that develop over time with the family.

The DeMolay and other groups often help at these events, further helping families understand the fraternity. It is hard to overstate the pattern of success, do things that the membership like as a group and as individuals, stress fun for the member and his family and encourage a feeling of community and comradery. Meeting the needs and wishes of the younger masons was repeated to me over and over. Fun and a place where family could occasionally get involved is the key.

After each reunion on the final day, they have a gala, or party with a theme and a band. It is the highlight of the 5-6-day reunion, spread out over two weekends and one Wednesday in the Valley of DM. The Wednesday degree is a full musical for all the acting participants.

Both valleys had passports which encouraged participation in viewing each degree, so the complete experience was supported, with a nice large certificate given when a member completed all of the degrees. It also forces the viewing member to get up and not be lethargic!

Note, both valleys highly encouraged the Master Craftsman course too. Jacksonville incorporates the course into their initial cost to join and they see the candidate through the process up to the completion of one test just to ensure the candidate is set up for success for the entire course. The course has in the past been hard to complete. This initial direction and help have proven very successful they report in completion rates.

Another item for membership building used in the Valley of DM is poker chips with a QR code which is used by a phone camera to go to a very robust website. These are given out to prospects at local lodges or if someone is interested from a common interaction. The SR members use these very effectively to gain attendance at the showcase or other common gatherings during the year.

One other item. The valley of DM doesn’t meet monthly like we do. Nor do they do the ritual when they meet quarterly. They found monthly meetings unproductive. They have committees meeting monthly of course. Their quarterly meeting has the flag presentation and the pledge. Business is conducted so that they can get back to fun and socializing.

I personally believe the Valley of Tallahassee could set a goal of some years to achieve most of the items above and become the best of the smaller population valleys in the country.

Respectfully submitted,

Paul R. Swanson, 32°

November 3, 2022

Bullet point summary of this best practices report:

  • Turn less-than-necessary meetings into social gatherings.
  • To encourage younger members to join, emphasize fun.
  • For more information on membership rebuilding, see the book The Empowered Volunteer Rebuilds America: One Fraternal, Civic and Veterans group at a time, by Paul R. Swanson.
  • Double Eagle programs vary by valley.
  • Showcase the program (not the building), including a nice meal for prospects while socializing and/or learning.
  • Set the tone for the year by holding an all masonic lodge officers and members meal in January for newly elected lodge officers. Emphasize we are here to help them succeed this year and propose ideas on helping that process.
  • Reunion degrees are a product of the membership growth, not the goal. As the membership grows, so do the degrees presented and the quality of the degrees. Hold a special family-friendly social activity at the end of each reunion.
  • Membership appreciation night every year, free for members and families with events for all ages and interests!
  • Request the membership complete a survey for future planning with the goal of 100% participation in the next year. Take the answers seriously for potential change.
  • The Master Craftsman course completion is key.
  • Create a robust Website for the Valley using Vistaprint or Word potentially. Place at least two members to maintain it.

Come out and Celebrate with our Burn’s Night Supper.
Saturday 1/21 at 6:30 at the Tallahassee Scottish Rite Center.
1819 N Monroe Street  Tallahassee, Florida  32303
Delicious steak dinner $25.00 /person or $45/couple       BYOB