March 2012: For The Record


For The Record

Maybe it was that North Carolina drawl that pulled us in, or a propensity for engaging story telling. Whatever the case, Glenn Sipe had us all captivated during the Closing Banquet of the MCAA National Convention in January. Mr. Sipe, who was handed a microphone as the cameras clicked away, simply told us about his life – and his life has been about masonry. A hushed crowd followed the heartfelt account of what masonry has meant to him with a standing ovation, and even a few misty eyes.

You see, Mr. Sipe, 91, is one of four inductees into the inaugural Masonry Hall of Fame class. He is joined by the late C. DeWitt Brown, Richard Felice and Jerry Painter. Four men more deserving of this honor, I do not know. Three of the inductees accepted the honor and gave short speeches, with Mr. Brown’s family – Buddie and Deby Barnes – accepting the award on his behalf.

Earning a spot in the Masonry Hall of Fame is no small achievement. The Hall was created to recognize and award individuals who have dedicated their lives to the masonry industry. Hall of Famers will have had a major impact on the masonry industry (not necessarily with the MCAA only), and will have been in the industry for a minimum of 25 years. All inductees are nominated by their peers and carefully reviewed by a panel of judges.

I used to think the most important Hall of Fame experience in my life had been my trip to Canton, Ohio, in 2007 to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was the year of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 75th anniversary. As an avid NFL fan, every display and exhibit left me elated. And the Steelers-centric section of the Hall…well, it was just magical. That was an incredibly special day in my life, and I will never forget how much I enjoyed the experience. That day was all Bradshaw, Lambert and Harris.

This day was all Brown, Felice, Painter and Sipe. And my experience with our Masonry Hall of Fame, I have to say, was even better. Years from now, a handful of us will be able to say we were there to help usher in the first class of the Masonry Hall of Fame. We celebrated four incredible men who really make you understand that masonry is in the blood; it’s a lifestyle as well as a livelihood. How many people can say they share the same profession as a man in his 80s? Whatever the number, it’s dwindling. It just shows the longevity of the skill and craft of masonry.

So thank you, Mr. Sipe. Thank you, Mr. Brown. Thank you, Mr. Felice. And thank you, Mr. Painter. Thank you for all you’ve done for this noble profession. You’ve set the bar high for future masons.

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