The North Carolina Mason

November/December 2021

North Carolina Mason

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Page 2 The North Carolina Mason November/December 2021 INSTALLATION, from page 1 By Beth Grace Mason Editor William Baldwin Bruton was clearly not expecting it when his friend, the new Grand Master, summoned him to the stage from his perch in the balcony. e look of disbelief on his face told the tale, as MW Larry ompson pinned the Montfort Medal, NC Masonry's highest honor, on his jacket. WB Bruton has been a Mason for 28 years, raised at Blackmer #127 in Mount Gilead – ompson's home lodge. He has served as a District Deputy Grand Master, Grand Tyler, and a member of the Committee on Masonic Jurisprudence. His real superpower, MW ompson says, is his interest in improving Masonry. Among other innovations, he led his lodge to be among the first to support Wilkerson College by sending a young ompson to the first class. ompson has said attending Wilkerson changed his life and his Masonic direction. "He the kind who stirs the pot," MW ompson said. "He is always pushing and provoking. He had me go through every door open to me." ompson, newly installed as Grand Master, then looked at his friend. "So I am partly your problem," he said with a grin. Brother Bruton, clearly not expecting the honor, told the audience he was "very, very, very surprised." "I expect every Grand Master makes a mistake," he said. "I didn't know he would start off with me," he said, to a round of laughter and applause. Each Grand Master may give three Montfort medals during his tenure. Since 1940, 258 medals have been awarded, honoring Joseph Montfort, the only Provincial Grand Master for America. He died before the American Revolution began and is buried in the front yard of Royal White Hart #2 in Halifax, where he was a member. Bruton receives his Montfort Medal New Grand Master awards first Montfort to William Bruton Shortly after his father presented him with a pocket watch inscribed specially for his son, he teared up as he talked about learning that so many men in his family had been Masons. He hesitated for a moment. "Anyway, I didn't plan on this," he said, dabbing at an eye. e audience chuckled as one of his mentors, PGM Billy Dill, acting as assistant Grand Marshal, placed the jewel and collar of office over ompson's head. MW ompson had to lift his now-famous beard to make sure the collar laid flat beneath it. e crowd laughed and applauded when MW ompson stepped offstage and into the audience to present his wife, Angie, seated in the audience, with her First Lady's pin. "She told me I had better not call her up on stage," he said. e gathering paused to remember the outgoing Grand Master. PGM Gene Jernigan presented the Past Grand Master's jewel, telling the audience that "Freemasonry is better today because of R. David Wicker Jr." He thanked MW Wicker for his work, and MW Wicker's wife, Susan, and their family for giving up so much family and personal time in service of Freemasonry. During the installation ceremony, elected and appointed members of the Grand Line stood facing the stage, hand over heart, and promised to "faithfully perform the duties to which I have been elected. Also installed were: Deputy Grand Master Kevan D. Frazier; Senior Grand Warden Donald E. Kehler; Junior Grand Warden Robert Rideout; Grand Treasurer Lewis R. Ledford; Grand Secretary Jonathan A. Underwood; Senior Grand Deacon Steve M. Norris; Junior Grand Deacon Gilbert D. Bailey; Grand Marshal Michael A. Register; Grand Steward Phillip R. Johnson; Junior Grand Steward Clyde Alvin Billings Jr.; Judge Advocate T. Marcus Browne III; Grand Tyler Joel M. Howard; Grand Chaplain James G. Jones Jr.; Grand Historian Steven A. Campbell; Grand Lecturer Randy Browning; and Grand Orator Worth Leon Rippy. The Assistant Installing Grand Marshal, PGM Billy Dill, makes sure the new Grand Master's beard clears his officer jewel. PGM Douglas Caudle. who served as Installing Grand Officer, hands Thompson his hat as the new Grand Master's father looks on. Photos by Michael Harding

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