Grand Master Lary R. Smith 2003-2004

Lary Smith GM PortLary 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

Donald VanKirk, PGM 1996-1997Most 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

Henry A. Wilson, Jr. PGM 1984-1985Most 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.

Grand Master Richard P. Ruhland 2005-2006

Richard P. Ruhland%0AMost Worshipful Grand Master 2005-2006

Richard Patrick Ruhland was born on September 29, 1950 in Denver, Colorado. He spent his formative years there. During his junior year of high school his family moved to New Jersey. Immediately after graduation from high school the family moved to Michigan. He attended Oakland Community College and majored in Business. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. He married Pat Cusac in Detroit, Michigan in July 1972. They were blessed with a daughter and a son.

Advancing on a career path in the restaurant field he worked his way into various management positions with local restaurant chains. In 1977 he began a career with the General Motors Corporation as a First Line Production Supervisor. After a series of promotions, he moved into his current position as senior Manufacturing Engineer at the Powertrain Manufacturing facility in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

He became interested in Masonry because of his attendance during a 1991 Shrine parade in Phoenix, Arizona. He was impressed with the membership’s interest in children. He was raised as a Master Mason in Wayne Lodge No. 112 in Westland, Michigan on April 25, 1992. He served his Lodge as Worshipful Master in 1999 and became a Pre-Paid member in 2001. He also served as President of the Masonic Masters Association of South East Michigan in 1999. In search of further light in Masonry, he joined Wayne Chapter No. 182 Royal Arch Masons, Northville Council No. 30 Royal & Select Masons, Northville Commandery No. 39 Knights Templar, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite Valley of Detroit, Moslem Shrine A.A.O.N.M.S., Nankin Chapter No. 238 Order of the Eastern Star, York Rite Sovereign College of North America, Prince Edwin No. 8, Crusader Council of Allied Masonic Degrees No. 142 and is a plural member of Britannia Lodge No. 601. He has the extreme honor of being an honorary member of Lake City Lodge No. 408, Waybon No. 305, Saline Lodge No. 133, Garden City-Builders Lodge No. 587, Buchanan No. 68, and Union of Strict Observance No. 3 and High Twelve International Mid-Michigan Club No. 602.  With extreme pride he received the DeMolay Honorary Legion of Honor and was commissioned with the Title of Knight Commander of the Temple from the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States and the Rainbow Grand Cross of Color.  He was duly elected and installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Michigan on May 26, 2005.

Grand Master Ruhland is a planner, organizer, and in some respects a futurist and takes great pride in bringing ideas and projects into fruition.  He feels his Masonic affiliation has given him the opportunity to utilize his skills in these areas to further benefit this fraternity.  He is humbled by the outpouring of support from all the men and women of this great Masonic family.

During his term of office he rededicated the Masonic Health Care Center in Alma on July 20, 2005.  It is now called the Jack F. Sanders Health Care Center. He also developed the new Masonic Festival at the Michigan Masonic Home in Alma.   He introduced the MI CHIP, Michigan Child Identification Program and the Pocket Petition. Also, a decision was made by the Grand Lodge Board of Directors to move the Grand Lodge office from Grand Rapids to Alma.  It was dedicated on January 28, 2006. Throughout his term, he spearheaded the following initiatives: 1) he worked with Grand Lodge Officers and others to merge the Michigan Masonic Home Charitable Foundation  with the Masonic Foundation of Michigan, Inc.; 2) he organized and led a drive to seek property tax relief for Michigan Masonic Lodges; 3) he helped raise $10,000 in sponsorships for the 2006 Grand Lodge Golf Outing; and 4) during his watch, he helped to recruit fifty-one new members of the Lewis Cass Society. The members of this Society pledge assets in their estate plans to the Masonic Foundations.

His term of office ended in the closing hours of the 180th Annual Communication in Grand Rapids, Michigan on May 24, 2006.

Grand Master Robert P. Conley, PGM 2000 – 2001

Most Worshipful Grand Master, 2000-2001

Robert P. ConleyRobert P. Conley was born on March 21, 1959 in Harbert, Michigan. He completed his education in the River Valley School System and settled into life as an apprentice Engraver working in the company his father founded in 1961. He took over the ownership of Robert Conley Engravers in 1991. He has been active in his community. He has served as the representative to the Economic Development Council, Republican Precinct Delegate, and was Treasurer of his local Chamber of Commerce. He also served several terms as President in the Sawyer Lions Club, and was an active member in Toastmasters, and the Jaycees Club.

 He was raised as a Master Mason in Three Oaks Lodge No. 239 on May 10, 1982. He served his lodge with distinction in 1987 as Worshipful Master. He was honored by being elected Mason of the Year in his Lodge in 1986. He was elected by the Brothers in his district to the office of District Deputy Instructor of District 10B.

He is a member of Royal Arch Chapter No. 2 in Niles, Niles Council No. 19 Royal and Select Masons, Niles Commandery No. 12 Knights Templar. He is a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, in the Valley of Grand Rapids, a Noble of the Mystic Shrine in Saladin Temple, and a member of Three Oaks Chapter Order of the Eastern Star.

In 1992 he ran and was elected to the Board of General Purposes. Grand Master W. Don Baugher appointed him to the office of Right Worshipful Grand Lecturer. In 1994 he was elected to the Grand Lodge line as the Worshipful Junior Grand Deacon. He has been very active in the Masonic Renewal program both within the state of Michigan on the national level. He serves on the Masonic renewal Committee of North America.

He was installed as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Michigan on June 1, 2000.

During his term of office he developed the Beacon Project.  This is a program that utilizes Masonic Volunteers in elementary schools.  Its goal is to help children learn to read.  He also dedicated the Picnic Pavilion at the Michigan Masonic Home in August 2000.

Here are some images of MWB Conley during his tenure as The Grand Master of Michigan Masons.

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Here is the oral history of MWB Robert P. Conley.  We recorded this interview at Pathways in Alma, MI on June 4, 2013.




Grand Master Dean Barr 2012-2013

Most Worshipful Grand Master, Dean A. Barr was born in Detroit Michigan
on September 9, 1951. Our Grand Master was the seventh of nine children
born to Paul and Edith Barr. Growing up in Warren Michigan he attended
and graduated from Fitzgerald Public Schools. Following his graduation
he entered the Lawrence Institute of Technology whereupon he earned a
Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Engineering. Our Grand Master
proudly served in the United StatesArmy as a field artillery surveyor.
Most Worshipful Brother Barr is married to Cindy and they are the blessed
parents of their daughter Tina. They are also the very proud Grand Parents
of twin boys, Zachary and Garrett, both seven years old.
Currently our Grand Master is employed by the State of Michigan as a “Field
Representative”, overseeing state construction projects ensuring compliance
with design intent and specifications.
Grand Master Barr was raised to the Sublime degree of a Master Mason in
Lola Valley Lodge # 583 in 1986 and served as Worshipful Master of that
Lodge in 1991. He proudly served as President of the Masonic Masters
Association in 1992. In 1994 he transferred his membership to Olive Branch
Masonic Lodge # 542, where he currently holds his membership. Our Grand
Master is an extremely gifted ritualist and as such is Certified as a Master
He is a member of the Valley of Detroit, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite
and was coroneted a 33rd Degree Mason in 2004. Our Grand Master is a
member of all York Rite bodies and completed that joining process in 2009.
In recognition of his outstanding service to the craft in Michigan he was
honored as State Mason of the Year in 2007.
Under our Grand Master Barr, the craft has a renewed vitality as it faces
its future, a more disciplined approach to its work and a more heightened
commitment to each other. The craft in Michigan is indeed fortunate to have
so good a man as our Grand Master Dean A. Barr.

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