This film explores the history of Masonry in Michigan from its beginning in the late 18th Century to the present.
Grand Lodge Installation of the Grand Master Richard Wisely
Russel C. Wells, Past Grand Master 1983-1984
Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1983-1984
Russel C. Wells was born on July 4, 1934 in Detroit Michigan. He graduated from Detroit Cooley High School in 1952. He graduated from the University of Michigan where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1957 and from the Detroit College of Law receiving his LLB degree in 1964 and his Juris Doctor in 1968. He was the Northern Regional Patent Counsel for The Bendix Corporation.
He married Joan Marie Podany on June 22, 1957. They were blessed with two sons and a daughter.
He was raised as a Master Mason on October 18, 1956 by Glenn L. Alt, Grand Marshal and Rex P. Sackett, Junior Grand Warden in William M. Perrett Lodge No 524. In 1975, the Senior Wardens of Metropolitan Detroit elected Russel as their presiding officer. He served his Lodge as Worshipful Master in 1976 and that year he was elected president of the Masonic Masters’ Association of Metropolitan Detroit. In 1958 he joined and is a Life Member of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Detroit where he was active in the portrayal of the dramatic degrees. Also in 1958 he joined Moslem Temple A.A.O.N.M.S. where he served as DeMolay Chairman from 197l-77, Masonic Relations Chairman in 1977 and on the Legal Staff from 1977-80. The Detroit Court of the Royal Order of Jesters nominated him to membership in 1972.
In York Rite Masonry, he is a member of Birmingham Chapter No. 93 R.A.M., Monroe Council No. 1 R. & S.M., Detroit Commandery No. 1 K.T., York Rite College No. 1, and in 1982 he was elected to receive the Order of the Purple Cross of the York Rite Sovereign College of North America. He is a member in Victoria Chapter No. 290 O.E.S. in Detroit and Southfield Hi-12 Club. The following lodges have elected him as an Honorary Member: Centerline No. 550 in 1978, Lincoln Park No. 539 and Dearborn No. 172 in 1980, Golden Ark No. 595, Vienna No. 205, and Olive Branch No. 542 in 1982, He is also an Honorary Member of Mizpah Shrine Temple of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
He served on the Administrative Board and the Finance Committee of the Nardin Park United Methodist Church, and on the Deerfield Village Community Association where he was the Charter Treasurer and the second President. He served on the Community Advisory Board of Woodland Hills Center in Troy.
He became Michigan’s Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons during the closing hours of the 158th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Michigan in Flint on May 25, 1983.
During his term of office he laid the Cornerstone for the Masons Wing at the Michigan Masonic Home on August 27, 1983.
Grand Master Robert G. Helmic 2004 – 2005
Most Worshipful Grand Master, 2004-2005
Robert G. Helmic was born on May 28, 1939 in Lansing, Michigan. He graduated from J.W. Sexton High School and attended the General Motors Institute before graduating from Michigan State University with a Bachelors degree in Landscape Architecture. After working for the Parks Department of the City of Lansing, he began a career with the state Parks Division of the Department of Natural Resources, which lasted for more than 32 years. During that time, he oversaw the Development Planning Section and was in charge of the $60 Million Quality of Life Recreation Bond Program.
He married Ann Blomquist on June 16, 1964. They were blessed with a daughter and a son.
He joined Lansing Chapter, Order of DeMolay in 1954. He is a Past Master Councilor, Chevalier and a member of the Legion of Honor. He was raised as a Master Mason on November 30, 1960 in Walter French Lodge No. 557. He immediately became a steward and began to serve on the DeMolay Advisory Board. He transferred his membership to Okemos Lodge No. 252 in 1979 and served as his brother-in-law’s Chaplain. He served as Worshipful Master in 1983 and was the Lodge’s Mason of the Year in 1987. He was elected Grand Marshal in 1999.
He was active with Job’s Daughters when his daughter Robin joined Okemos Bethel No. 50. He served as Associate Bethel Guardian in 1980. He later served as Director of Epochs and Guardian Treasurer for Bethel No. 5 Lansing-Okemos. He served as Associate Grand Guardian in 1995-96.
He holds Honorary Memberships in Lake City Lodge No. 408 and in St. George Lodge No. 190 in Aberdeen, Scotland. He is a member of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Bay City; Lansing Commandery No.25; Williamston Chapter No. 117, R.A.M.; Leslie Council No. 50 R. & S.M.; St. Martin Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine; King Aethelstan York Rite College No. 47; Elf Khurafeh Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S.; Saginaw Court No. 74 Royal Order of Jesters; Lansing High 12 Club; National Sojourners, Chapter No. 316; Past Patron Arbutus Chapter No. 45. O.E.S., and Michigan Lodge of Research No. 1. He was appointed Grand Representative of the Grand Lodge of Goias, Brazil in 2001.
He was duly elected and installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Michigan on May 24, 2004.
Grand Master W. Don Baugher 1993-1994
W. Don Baugher was born on October 20, 1938 in Senath, Missouri. He graduated from Senath High School and moved to Michigan in 1956. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he went to work for the Whirlpool Corporation in Benton Harbor. He attended Lake Michigan College, and majored in Business Administration while working for Whirlpool. He continued to work for them for over thirty-nine years until he retired. He married Georgia “Jo” Bishop on September 23, 1961. They were blessed with two daughters.
He was raised a Master Mason on March 25, 1963 in Lake Shore Lodge No. 298. He transferred to Coloma Lodge No. 162 where he served as Worshipful Master in 1978. He holds honorary memberships in Dearborn Lodge No. 172, Three Oaks Lodge No. 239, Lake City Lodge No. 408, St. Joseph Lodge No. 437 and Britannia No. 601, a Lodge he constituted when he was Grand Master. He served the Board of General Purposes for District No. 10, and served as Board President in 1984-1985. He is a member of the York Rite and holds memberships with the Calvin Britain Chapter No. 72, R.A.M.; Nile Council No. 19, R. & S.M.; Malta Commandery No. 44 and York Rite College No. 10. He is a member and Past Puissant Sovereign of St. Vincent Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine. He joined the Scottish Rite in the Valley of Grand Rapids in 1972 and was elected Class President. He has worked on the 4th, 8th, 23rd and 32nd degrees. He has held several offices in the Consistory and currently serves as First Lieutenant Commander of DeWitt Clinton Consistory. He crossed the hot sands of Saladin Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S., and served as Membership Chairman for District 1. He is a Past President of the Berrien County Shrine Club. He is a member of the Coloma Chapter No. 307, Order of the Eastern Star. He serves on the advisory Board of the Fidelity Rainbow Assembly No. 45 and is a State Official for the Michigan Grand Assembly and a member of the Grand Cross of Color. He is very involved with the National Masonic Foundation for Children. He has served on the NMFC Board of Directors since 1991, served at its President for four years and currently serves as Executive Director.
He was installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Michigan Masons at the close of the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons on May 26, 1993. There were 77,000 Masons in 431 lodges in Michigan during his term of office.
Grand Master Lary R. Smith 2003-2004
Lary R. Smith was born on April 24, 1942 in Plymouth, Michigan. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in teaching physics from Kalamazoo College and obtained a Master of Science degree in theoretical mathematics at The Ohio State University. He also took course work at Wayne State University and other universities, including the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
After graduating he taught math and physics in the Warren Consolidated School District and in the Livonia Public Schools. In 1970 he became the Livonia Public Schools’ Computer Specialist and then joined the staff of the Wayne County Intermediate School District (now Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency-Wayne County RESA) as its Computer/Technology Consultant. After retiring in 1999, he started EdTech, LLC, a consultant firm that helps local school districts make the Internet accessible to students.
He was raised as a Master Mason on May 24, 1974 in Plymouth Rock Lodge No. 47. Over the next few years he assisted as an advisor to the Plymouth Chapters of Rainbow and DeMolay. He served as Worshipful Master in 1979-80 and again in 1989-90. In 1992 he was elected Lodge Mason of the Year and was also awarded District Mason of the Year. He joined the Plymouth Chapter No. 115, Order of the Eastern Star in 1976 and in 1980-81 while serving as Worshipful Master, served as the Chapter’s Worthy Patron. In 1978 he was elected to the Plymouth Rock Masonic Temple Association and served as its Secretary until 1995. In 1989 he was elected Secretary of the Masonic Masters’ Association. He served for over 20 years in that position. In 1995 he became a plural member with Britannia Lodge No. 601 and served as its Secretary from then until 2001. In 1978 he joined the Plymouth High Twelve Club No. 64 and served as its President several times and is still a member of Redford-Northwest Club No. 14. He has served on the Grand Lodge’s Computer Committee since 1994, has been a Grand Representative to the Grand Lodge of Uruguay and, more recently, to the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island, served on the Masonic Foundation of Michigan, Inc. and was appointed in 1998 as one of nine Grand Master’s Representatives in the State of Michigan. He has been a member of the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle in association with Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic Research in London since 1994. He is also a member of the Michigan Lodge of Research and Information No. 1., the Scottish Rite and York Rite Bodies.
He was elected Worshipful Grand Marshal at the 1998 Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge in Grand Rapids and was duly elected and installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Michigan at the Annual Communication held in Acme, Michigan in May 2003.
On July 29, 2003, Most Worshipful Grand Master Lary R. Smith presided over a crowd estimated at more than 500 people to help dedicate the new John C. and Velma Doig Community Conference Center on the campus of the Michigan Masonic Home in Alma, Michigan.
His term ended in the closing hours of the 178th Annual Communication in May 2004, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Legacy Series: MWB Donald J. Van Kirk Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1996-1997
Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1996-1997
Donald J. Van Kirk was born on January 6, 1935. When he was seven years old, his family moved to Dearborn. He graduated from Dearborn High School and received a two year associated degree from Henry Ford Community College. He served in the U.S. Navy and continued his education as the 1st Class Recruit Education Petty Officer at Great Lakes, Illinois and graduated at the top of his class at the Electronics School. He completed several courses through the U.S. Armed Forces Institute and passed the Federal Communications Commission Examination for a first class Radio-Television Operators license. He attained the rank of 2nd Class Petty Officer before his honorable discharge from the Navy after four years of service. He married Wyva Moore on April 28, 1956. They were blessed with one daughter.
He received his Electrical Engineering Degree from Wayne State University, a Masters Degree in Engineering Mechanics, and a Master’s Degree in Finance and Management from the University of Michigan. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Michigan. He was employed by the Ford Motor Company in special Vehicle Engineering for twenty years before his retirement in 1985. He established his own Forensic and Consulting Engineering firm.
He has been a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers for more than twenty years and has served on their Biomechanics Subcommittee.
He was raised as a Master Mason on May 16, 1977 in Dearborn Lodge No. 172. He is a member of Phoenicia Waverly Lodge No. 527 and served as its Worshipful Master in 1990. He holds membership in Dearborn Chapter No. 172, R.A.M.; Northville Council No. 30, R. & S.M.; Detroit Commandery No. 1, K.T.; Detroit York Rite College No. 1, where he served as Governor in 1991. He holds Purple Cross and Charity Jewel Awards. He is a member of the Scottish Rite, Valley of Detroit, where he served as Thrice Potent Master as well as Commander-in-Chief. He was Coroneted with the Thirty-third Degree in 1988. He served as Recording Secretary of the Cycle Patrol Unit of Moslem Temple Shrine for ten years. He is also a charter member of Britannia Lodge No. 601 and the Michigan Lodge of Research and Information No. 1, where he was a founding member and second Worshipful Master. He is a member of Dearborn Chapter No. 421, O.E.S.; Al Matta Grotto; Thistle and Rose Council No. 27 of the Allied Masonic Degrees and served as Celebrant of the Michigan College of the Sociatas Rosicruciana in Civitas Foeteratis. He is also a member of the Iowa, Missouri and Southern California Masonic Research Lodges as well as the Correspondence Circle of Quatour Coronati Lodge No. 2070 in London, England. He holds life memberships in the Philalethes Society, Royal Order of Scotland and has had ten Masonic research papers published, earning him the honor of being listed in “Who’s Who in Freemasonry.”
He was duly elected and installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Michigan on May 30, 1996.
During his term of office he dedicated the John C. and Velma Doig Chapel and Education Center at the Michigan Masonic Home in August 1996. He also dedicated the new public library in Lowell, Michigan.
Grand Master Henry A. Wilson, Jr. 1984-1985
Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1984-1985
Henry A. Wilson, Jr. was born in Detroit on June 12, 1939. He attended Southeastern High School and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Genetics from Michigan Lutheran College in 1968. In 1978 he received a Masters of Art degree in Computer Science from the University of Detroit. He worked toward a Doctorate Degree in Education, Evaluation, Measurements and Research at Wayne State University. He was a partner and department head of the Management Advisory Services of Alexander Grant & Company, a national Certified Public Accounting firm.
He met his wife, Mildred, while he was stationed in Stephenville, Newfoundland while in the United States Air Force. They married on June 17, 1962.
He was raised as a Master Mason in Grosse Pointe Lodge No. 584 on February 18, 1972. Four years later he served his Lodge as Worshipful Master. In 1977, he was elected representative for District Three to the Board of General Purposes. The delegates at the 153rd Annual Communication elected him as Worshipful Grand Marshal in May 1978.
In York Rite Masonry, he is a member of East Detroit Chapter No. 185, Royal Arch Masons, Jeremiah Council No. 88, R. & S.M., Highland Park Commandery No. 53, Knights Templar and Prince Edward York Rite College No. 8. In 1983, he was elected to receive the Order of the Purple Cross of York Rite Sovereign College of North America. He is also a holder of the Gold Cross Award of York Rite Colleges.
In Scottish Rite Masonry, he is a member of the Valley of Detroit. He is Past Sovereign Prince, Carson Council, Princes of Jerusalem 1982-1983. He was coroneted a 33º Mason in Cleveland Ohio in 1985.
He joined Moslem Temple A.A.O.N.M.S. in 1973, and served as a member of the Fraternal Relations Committee. In 1982, he was nominated for membership in the Detroit Court of the Royal Order of Jesters. In 1978, he joined the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Valley of Detroit where he was active in the portrayal of the dramatic degrees. He is also a member in the Lakeshore Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star in Grosse Pointe and Detroit, and the Downtown Hi-12 Club. He was named as an Honorary Member of the following Lodges: Harper Woods No. 585, Dearborn Lodge No. 172 and William M. Perrett Lodge No. 524.
He also served as Treasurer and Junior Warden and as an usher, for St. Columbus Episcopal Church. He was also a member of the reorganization committee for Wayne County.
During his term of office he Dedicated wings A & B of the Michigan Masonic Home on August 4, 1984.
Ambassador Meeting MMCF
The Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation’s Lewis Cass Society meeting.