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89-year-old becomes Worshipful Master of the lodge

g and compass

Linton Daily Citizen

Moore enjoys being active in Masonic Lodge

By Nick Schneider, STAFF WRITER

Jan. 03, 2005

Bloomfield resident Robert (Bob) Moore regards his Masonic Lodge No. 84 brothers as family.

Tonight, "his family" will install the 89-year-old man as "Worshipful Master" of the lodge -- the highest elected position in the charitable and educational society. He's believed to be the oldest "Master" installed in Indiana, and the top state leadership is expected to be among the Masons in attendance for the special ritual.

Richard J. Elman, Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of Indiana, will be the special guest and conduct the 7 p.m. installation ceremony.

Moore, who will be 90 next month, has been a Mason for 61 years. He was a member of Switz City Masonic Lodge No. 676 from 1943 until 1965 when he transferred his membership to Bloomfield Lodge No. 84.

This is his second stint as Master. Moore served a one-year term in 1948 while still a member of the Switz City lodge.

As Master, Moore will be the local lodge's chief executive officer charged with governing the lodge and its officers. He is also in charge of finances for the organization with about 200 members.

"You just run the lodge. You are responsible for everything," he said.

Moore is the second oldest member of the Bloomfield lodge -- surpassed in years only by his friend and former golfing buddy -- Glenn Gates, who is 93.

Considering his age, Moore's new leadership role is remarkable.

"Our work is all committed to memory. All of our degree work and everything is from memory. I've had no problem with that part of it because I've kept up on it quite well," he said with confidence.

Freemasonry is a charitable and educational society, dedicated to morality, mutual aid, charity, leadership, religious toleration and political freedom. Freemasonic Lodges are found around the world and in every free country. The Masonic membership exceeds four million world wide, and there are more than 13,000 lodges in the United States.

Appendant Masonic bodies include Royal Arch Masonry, Cryptic Masonry, Knights Templar, Scottish Rite, The Shrine, Order of the Eastern Star, The Grotto, DeMolay, Job's Daughters, and Rainbow for Girls.

The Masonic Lodge is open to men over the age of 18. Stated meetings are held monthly and degree work is conducted on a called basis.

Locally, the Masonic Lodge sponsors a variety of college scholarships and provides fruit baskets and food baskets for needy families at the holidays. Recently, the Masons donated $5,000 to renovate a shelter house at the Bloomfield Town Park.

Moore, a Greene County native, is a 1932 graduate of the former Switz City High School.

Moore, like many Masons, said he got involved in the Lodge at the urging of his dad, the late William E. Moore, who served as Master of the Switz City Lodge in 1932.

"He said to me, 'We don't go out and solicit members, but if you want to go in at anytime, I'll pay your initiation fee and take care of that,' So I became interested in it," Moore recalled.

A World War II U.S. Navy veteran, Moore served in an amphibious force unit that was among the troops that stormed the beach at Normandy, France and he later was with allies who invaded Japan.

He served for 27 months.

Moore recalled that the Masonic brotherhood was even evident during the war.

"I never went anywhere oversees that I didn't find a Masonic Lodge," Moore said.

He's met Masons around the world and said the hospitality and camaraderie was an unspoken way of life. He's been offered free meals and free room and board by fellow Mason brothers.

"I never purposefully ever used my (Masonic) ring to ask for anything, but I have at different times received help because of it," Moore said. "The camaraderie is all over the world."

Moore admits there is an element of secrecy in the Masonic rites, which he said has fostered the wrong idea about the organization among nonmembers.

"Some people have the wrong idea. Some people think it's kind of a cult or something, which it is not," he said. "Everything we do is based on the Bible. It's far from a cult."

After being discharged from military service, Moore returned to Greene County to be with his wife, Lena -- a high school sweetheart. The couple purchased a grocery store in Switz City and ran it for eight years. He then went to work as a road salesman for the old Miller-Parrott Bakery based in Terre Haute for nine years.

When the company closed, he went to work at Crane where he worked for 17 years in the industrial machine shop until his retirement in 1979.

His wife died in 2001.

Moore also is the lone surviving sibling in his family of four brothers and one sister.

"They are all gone, but me," he said. "The lodge is my family now."

Moore, who lives on Laura Lane in Bloomfield, remains very active teaching his Mason brothers and assisting with degree work studies with lodge members in other area locations.

"Three or four members of the lodge still go to other lodges every week -- to Shoals, Stanford, Carlisle, Dugger, Linton, Elnora, Newberry or Jasonville or where ever they have some degree work going on. If they need me, I help," he said. "They have lectures that go with the degree work and I give all of the lectures."

Moore suffers from macular degeneration, which hampers his eyesight.

Macular degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain. The retina's central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.

"You can still see, but everything is blurred," he explained.

Moore still reads the newspaper, the Bible and his Masonic materials with the aid of an electronic reader that greatly magnifies the size of the printed material so he can clearly view it.

"It (the eye disorder) doesn't affect my Lodge work because I've already committed all that to memory anyway," he quickly added. "I don't need a book for that."

Moore is optimistically looking forward to the challenges he'll face in the Lodge in the coming year. He's expecting assistance from Senior Warden Bob Burch and Junior Warden David Rollison -- the Lodge's other elected officers.

"I just hope to have a successful year. I feel like I've got a good bunch of officers to help me out," he said. "This is a real honor for me."

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