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A very remarkable rare event was hosted on March 8 at the Eagle Masonic Lodge at 142 W. King St. in Hillsborough. John Mason Roberts, a Hillsborough resident for over 70 years, was honored with a certificate and gem commemorating his 70 years as a Freemason. The honor was presented by Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in North Carolina Larry B. Thompson, who was assisted by Most Worshipful Brother C. Speed Hallman, Past Grand Master of Masons in North Carolina and Eagle Lodge member. The certificate was handed at dinner, and the diamond was presented subsequently in a closed meeting.
Worshipful Brother Roberts (“Worshipful” is an epithet bestowed on someone who has served as Master, or leading officer, of a Masonic lodge) was born on Churton Street in 1931. He moved to a house on West Tryon Street when he was four years old, and he still resides there. He joined the Eagle Lodge in 1952 and petitioned for the degrees, receiving the first on March 14, 1952, the second on April 11, 1952, and the third on April 28, 1952. After several years as a regular member and on several committees, Roberts was elected to the officers’ line in 1960 and served as Master of Eagle Lodge in 1964. He continued to serve the Lodge after his stint as presiding officer ended, until his health began to decline. W. Bro. Roberts was greeted as he entered Lodge whenever he was able to attend.
For many years, W. Bro. Roberts distributed Gravely lawn equipment in Hillsborough. His store was located south of town, at the intersection of South Churton and Orange Grove Street. He is married to Grace and has four children, including a daughter who lives out of state, sons Jim and Bruce, and a son John Byron Roberts, who is also an Eagle Lodge member.
W. Bro. Roberts’ son, John Byron, delivered an essay written by his father about some of his favorite Masonic memories and lessons. In addition to the two Grand Masters, Masons from four separate Lodges representing three different states were present to commemorate W. Bro. Roberts, both at dinner and in a closed Lodge meeting. W. Bro. Roberts was able to witness and engage in crucial ritual actions throughout the gathering, and he was given a particular internal honor.
If memory serves, W. Bro. Roberts is Eagle Lodge’s first 70-year veteran’s service award recipient. We at Eagle Lodge #19, A.F. & A.M. are extremely proud of our longest living Past Master and wish him a happy life in the future.