A scenario of the inception, organization and early years of Oak Forest Lodge would proceed along the following lines: “Once upon a time”, back in the fall of 1961 and spring of 1962, after several “over the coffee cup” meetings, 3 (or more) “wise men”, (not from the East), but from the Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas of Houston, held a “formal” meeting to discuss the need and feasibility of a Masonic Lodge in this area. This meeting was held on April 3, 1962 in the offices of Dr. A. D. Love. Other Brethren attending were Dr. F. S. Love, Clyde W. Diver, H. C. Ireland and Lonnie B. Little.
After considering the growth and development of this area during the past few years, and the fact that there was no Lodge located in close proximity to this area, a decision was made to proceed with possible plans for a new Lodge.
During the next 3 months, several Brethren residing in this area were contacted and a total of 55 signed applicants for certificates of good standing were obtained, indicating a great amount of interest in forming a new Lodge. Garden Oaks Lodge #1306 and Fairbanks Lodge #1363 were approached as possible sponsors. Fairbanks graciously offered to be the sponsor and also provide a temporary meeting place.
On August 24, 1962, an organizational meeting was held at St. Stephens United Methodist Church, 43rd and Donna Bell. 55 very enthusiastic Brethren were present. Rev. Brother Jack Schoultz gave an invocation and Brother Francis Love was elected chairman of the meeting. After a general discussion of the matter at hand, it was agreed that a charter for a new Lodge would be sought. Proposed charter officers were as follows:
|Clyde W. Diver ||Worshipful Master|
|Albert D. Love || Senior Warden |
|K. L. Thompson || Junior Warden |
|Don N. King || Treasurer |
|H. C. Ireland || Secretary|
The offer of Fairbanks Lodge to sponsor the new Lodge and to also provide a meeting place was gratefully accepted. After a discussion, it was agreed that the name of the new Lodge would be Oak Forest Lodge No. ____, A. F. & A. M. The meeting was closed in peace and harmony.
The first meeting of the new Lodge Organization was held in Fairbanks Lodge building on September 10, 1962. 64 members were present. Plans were made to submit a charter application to Grand Lodge as soon as possible.
At the time of the November 12, 1962 meeting, there were 70 present and 120 Certificates of Good Standing had been received. A petition for a charter for the new Lodge had been completed and a committee was appointed to carry it to Grand Lodge. The committee consisted of Brothers A. D. Love and H. C. Ireland. It was presented, approved, and a charter granted dated December 6, 1962, with an original charter membership of 161, which was the highest charter membership ever approved by the Grand Lodge of Texas.
A final organizational meeting was held on December 10, 1962. The following additional officers were elected or appointed:
|Clyde W. Diver ||Worshipful Master|
|H Lloyd Jennings || Senior Deacon |
|Doyle L. Webb || Junior Deacon |
|H. H. Collins ||Senior Steward |
|Fred Guilfoyle || Junior Steward |
|Gus Dinklage || Tiler |
A total of 55 members were present. W.M. Clyde Diver announced that the charter had been received and that the new Lodge would be officially constituted and set to work on Wednesday, January 16, 1963 by R. W. Deputy Grand Master John R. Collard and a team of Grand Lodge officers.
On Wednesday, January 16, 1963, a representation of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas was opened in Fairbanks Lodge building, for the purpose of constituting and setting to work the newly chartered Oak Forest Lodge No. 1398, A. F. & A. M. Upon completion of these official ceremonies, the previously elected and appointed officers were installed by R.W. John R. Collard. This momentous meeting was closed at 10 P. M. Refreshments were served in the banquet room to one of the largest crowds ever assembled there.
The first official stated meeting of Oak Forest Lodge No. 1398 was held in Fairbanks Lodge Hall on January 28, 1963. There were 58 members and 14 visitors present, total of 72. Minutes of previous meetings were read and approved. Various committee appointments were made, including a new Building Committee consisting of Brothers A. D. Love, F. S. Love, H. L. Jennings, E. A. Lyons, Gus Dinklage and Allie Whiddon. By-laws for the Lodge were submitted and approved. Rev. Brother W. O. Curtis was installed as the first Chaplain.
The official visit of a District Deputy Grand Master to Oak Forest Lodge was made on April 8, 1963 by R. W. James V. McClain, D.D.G.M. of District 30-C.
The first Entered Apprentice degrees conferred by Oak Forest Lodge were conferred on April 10, 1963 upon Don Brock, B. K. Johnson, Dewey Scott and James Hobbs. In April, E. A. degrees were also conferred on John P. Rankin, Malcolm Alloway, B. A. Dillard, John Artz, and W. W. Hunnicutt. Two of these Brothers, B. K. Johnson and John Artz, later served their Lodge as Worshipful Master, and one of them W. W. Hunnicutt became an Affiliated Past Master.
At the stated meeting on May 13, 1963, Brother A. D. Love reported that the Building Committee had located a proposed site for a Lodge building. It consisted of approximately 2 acres of land located on Watonga Boulevard and about 3 blocks North of W. 43rd Street.
The first death of a member of the Lodge was that of Brother John S. Hunter. Funeral services were held at Waltrip Funeral Home and Masonic graveside services by the Lodge at Brookside Cemetery on June 10, 1963.
At a called meeting on June 22, 1963, the first Master Mason Degree was conferred upon Brother W. W. Hunnicutt. This was a very momentous occasion.
Upon completion of it’s very busy and eventful first Masonic year, new officers were elected and the following were installed on June 24, 1963, with Brother F. S. Love as the installing officer:
|Clyde W. Diver ||Worshipful Master|
|A. D. Love || Worshipful Master |
|K. L. Thompson ||Senior Warden |
|H. L. Jennings || Junior Warden |
|Allie Whiddon ||Treasurer |
|H. C. Ireland || Secretary |
|E. N. Oldham || Chaplain |
|Doyle L. Webb ||Sr. Deacon |
|H. H. Collins || Jr. Deacon |
|F. J. Guilfoyle || Sr. Steward |
|Earl Morgenson ||Jr. Steward |
|Gus Dinklage ||Tiler|
At the stated meeting of the Lodge on July 8, 1963, the Lodge was notified that an Eastern Star Chapter was in the process of organization, and sought permission to use Oak Forest Lodge building as a permanent meeting place. The request was approved by a vote of twenty four FOR and none against.
The first Certificate Class to stand examination in Oak Forest Lodge was on November 16, 1963. Five certificates were approved.
At the stated meeting on February 24, 1964, Brother Francis Love, Chairman of the Texas Public School Week Committee of Grand Lodge, gave a report on the Public Schools Week Programs. This was the first year the Lodge had participated in the Public Schools Week program.
On March 9, 1964, there was a momentous occasion for Oak Forest Lodge. Most Worshipful Grand Master John R. Collard, Jr. made an official visit to Oak Forest Lodge. He was attended by three District Deputy Grand Masters. There were 81 members and 104 visitors, a total of 185 present. 65 of the original Charter Members were present. M.W. Brother Collard was presented with an Honorary Charter Member Certificate. At this time the Lodge was still meeting in Fairbanks Lodge building. This was one of the largest meetings ever held in this building.
Ground breaking for the Lodge building was held on April 13, 1964. Ceremonies were somewhat short and informal, but a lot of work was accomplished. Brother George Kelly, who worked for Caterpillar Company, brought out a big D-6 CAT and cleared away necessary trees and graded the lot so that the foundation could be laid out. Everyone was elated that we finally got the building started. Brother W. W. “Bill” Hunnicutt, who was an experienced draftsman, drew the first set of floor plans for the building, incorporating all of the changes and alterations approved by the Lodge and Building Committee. These plans were then turned over to an architectural firm headed by Mr. John H. Smyth, who was later initiated and became a member of the Lodge. Brother Smyth completed the plans and specifications in final form at no cost to the Lodge. Brother Lloyd Jennings was appointed by the Building Committee to act as General Superintendent to direct the building activities and purchasing of materials and services to complete the project.
During the next few months, with the volunteer help of many of the Brethren, work on the building proceeded pretty smoothly. Lots of work had to be done at night and on weekends in order to utilize as much of the volunteer work as possible and to save money. Wives of many of the workers assisted in the project by furnishing coffee, cookies and food for the workers. They also offered a lot of good suggestions as to furnishings and decorations for the Lodge.
At the time of this writing, April, 1992, some 30 years after the beginnings of Oak Forest Lodge, it is impossible to remember and give credit to all of the members, friends, etc. who contributed time, money, materials, and a lot of hard work in order to make Oak Forest Lodge a reality. Brother Lloyd Jennings had to call upon outside sources for help, advice and assistance during the building program. In addition to Brother Smyth, the Architect, Brother Harry Laughlin, a member of Melrose Lodge, gave invaluable advice and assistance in the matter of technical problems. Brother W. W. “Bill” Hunnicutt gave continuous advice and assistance. Brother Eddie Dollens, a skilled craftsman, gave many days and nights to the building construction, and also designed and built the officer stations for the Lodge Room. Almost every day for months, he completed his night shift for one of the local railroad lines and then came directly to the Lodge building site and worked 4 to 6 hours and then went home to get a little rest and go back to work on his job again. The Lodge is deeply indebted to him for his untiring efforts in the completion of the Lodge.
From the time the ground was broken, and up until the last nail was driven, another faithful and devoted Masonic Brother contributed greatly to the construction of the Lodge building, namely Brother Henry C. Ireland. Brother Ireland, now a Past Master of Garden Oaks Lodge, served as the first Secretary of Oak Forest Lodge. His contributions and service was invaluable and his memory is greatly revered.
On August 8, 1964, a special communication of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Texas was opened in Fairbanks Masonic Lodge for the purpose of leveling the cornerstone of Oak Forest Lodge #1398 A. F. & A. M. Most Worshipful John R. Collard, Grand Master, assisted by a slate of acting Grand Lodge Officers, conducted the leveling ceremony. It was a distinct honor to have Brother Collard perform this service for Oak Forest Lodge.
At a stated meeting on August 10, 1964, R. W. Victor A. Browning, District Deputy Grand Master, District 30-C made his first official visit to the Lodge. Also at this same meeting, a motion to allow Oak Forest Chapter, O. E. S., to meet in Oak Forest Lodge hall was duly approved without a dissenting vote. Meetings on Thursdays were approved for their activities.
The first stated meeting of Oak Forest Lodge in the new building was held on November 9, 1964. Routine reports were given and the regular order of business followed. Everyone was obviously glad to finally be in the new temple. The Lodge voted to write a letter to Fairbanks Lodge and express appreciation for the valuable assistance and many courtesies extended to Oak Forest Lodge during the past two years.
On November 18, 1964, there was another momentous occasion in the history of Oak Forest Lodge. A special building dedication service was conducted by Grand Master John R. Collard, Jr., assisted by a very distinguished group consisting of three District Deputy Grand Masters and four Past District Deputy Grand Masters. Most Worshipful George W. Thorn, Grand Master of Masons in New Mexico, was among the distinguished visitors.
At a stated meeting on February 8, 1965, the Lodge approved a request by Will N. Kidd Chapter #424, Royal Arch Masons and San Jacinto Council #347, Royal And Select Masters, to move into and conduct their meetings on Wednesdays of each month.
On April 26, 1965, a called meeting of Oak Forest Lodge was held for the purpose of honoring Charter Members and Past Masters. Charter Member Clyde Diver gave a brief history of the Lodge from organization to date.
On November 1, 1965, as had been previously scheduled, Past Grand Master John R. Collard, Jr. visited the Lodge and was presented by Past District Deputy Grand Masters Brothers V. A. Browning and F. S. Love. Brother Collard expressed his appreciation for the honors bestowed upon him and gave a very impressive message on present day Masonry in Texas. He also praised Oak Forest Lodge for its accomplishments during its short period of existence. Also at this meeting, the robed degree team from Reagan Lodge #1037 conferred the Master Mason degree on Brother Van M. Stewart. There were 98 members, 116 visitors, total of 214 present. This was the largest group ever assembled at Oak Forest Lodge Hall. Maybe ever since!
A special called meeting was held on Monday, March 7, 1966 for the purpose of holding an open meeting and program in observance of Texas Public Schools Week. Brother F. S. Love presented Brother Robert “Bob” Eckels, President of the Houston School Board, as principal speaker. Brother Eckels gave a very inspiring and informative program covering many of the educational programs in the Houston School District as well as in Texas in general.
On October 3, 1966, Most Worshipful H. W. Fullingham, Grand Master, visited Oak Forest during an open meeting. Several units from Arabia Shrine Temple furnished the entertainment.
At a called meeting on November 28, 1966, Charter Members and Past Masters were honored. Right Worshipful John R. Collard, Jr., Past Grand Master, was the principal speaker. He brought a very interesting talk on the subject “The Obligations of a Master Mason”.
The statistics and information reflected in this historical report were recorded in the minutes and records of Oak Forest Lodge during the first five year period covering the organization, building program and very busy activities of the Lodge. The need for reasonable brevity precludes the possibility of reflecting more details. The preparation of this historical treatise was requested by Worshipful Master J. J. Freeze at the stated meeting of February 10, 1962. A committee consisting of Brothers F. S. Love, John Artz, Simmie Stivender, Jimmie Thompson, and H L. Jennings (chairman) was appointed to prepare the historical records of the early years of the Lodge. To this end we labored.!!
This Report in its original format was edited by Robert A. Foreman, Jr., Secretary of Oak Forest Lodge for the purposes of publishing on the Oak Forest Lodge Web Page.