“Remember to perform your allotted task while it is yet day, remembering the night cometh, the best and wisest of us know not how soon, in which no work can be done.”
So the newly-raised Master Mason is told during a vivid ceremony. Over the years, a far more dramatic example of that lesson has, occasionally and quite unexpectedly, been exhibited in the tyled recesses of the Lodge than what is contained in the ritual.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of a rare, but unfortunate, event. This story is from the Chicago Tribune of May 29, 1909.
MASON DIES DURING CEREMONY IN WASHINGTON CHAPTER HALL.
Robert E. Law Stricken by Apoplexy in Temple and Expires Despite Immediate Medical Aid.
Robert E. Law, one of the best known Masons in the state and one of the officials of the organization in Chicago, dropped dead last night during the initiatory ceremonies of Washington chapter No. 43, Royal Arch Masons, which were being held in the lodge rooms on the eighteenth floor of the Masonic Temple.
Mr. Law, who was a past high priest of the chapter, had started to leave the lodge room in company with several friends, when he threw up his hands and fell to the floor. His fellow members lifted him in their arms and carried him to a couch in the parlors. It was thought he had only fainted.
Dr. R.T. Johnson, who was present at the lodge meeting, hurried to the stricken man’s side and applied restoratives, but he died within a few minutes.
The widow of Mr. Law was notified at her home, 107 South Austin avenue, of her husband’s sudden death. The shock caused her to collapse. Physicians were called in to attend to her and it is said her condition is serious.
Mr. Law formerly was connected with the wholesale leather business. He was 50 years old and had been retired several years.
He was past master of the Thomas J. Turner lodge, AF & AM; past high priest of the Washington chapter, and a prominent member of the Shrine. He also was a thirty-second degree Mason.
I have not had the shocking experience of being in a Lodge room when one of our members has met with death. But I’ve heard of it happening locally during my 25 years as a Freemason. Twice, death came to the presiding officer of the Chapter of Rose Croix during a meeting. There was also the demise of Arthur Delamont of Meridian Lodge No. 108, known to the non-Masonic world as the popular and loved leader of the Kitsilano Boys Band. He had just finished giving the Address to the Worshipful Master at his Lodge’s installation when he fell dead of a heart attack. And my mind is a little fuzzy on the exact circumstances, but the Secretary of one local Lodge passed away—if I remember correctly—during the raising of one of his sons.
Then there was the case of Bill Tyre, who became a Mason in Scotland in 1910 and was still going strong in my Mother Lodge when I became a member in 1983. He was an Honorary Past Grand Master, a 33° member of the Scottish Rite, Secretary of the Royal Order of Scotland for several decades, and so on. On a Tuesday afternoon in 1986 he, as usual, sauntered into the Lodge Hall restaurant to have his lunch. He was hanging up his coat when he dropped to the floor. A paramedic who happened to be there couldn’t revive him. Bill was dead of coronary failure at age 98.
The sad irony is the room where he died had been named in his honour only a few months before.
So let this anniversary of W. Bro. Law’s farewell to his earthly journey remind us of the lesson of the 24-inch gauge—to use our time wisely and beneficially to our fellow man during our own pilgrimage from east to west, for the Grand Leveller could fell us at any moment, and we can do more but leave our reputation behind.