History of Shriners International
In 1870 a group of Masons gathered frequently for lunch at the Knickerbocker Cottage on Sixth Avenue in New York City. At a special table on the second floor a particularly fun-loving group of men met regularly. Among the regulars were Walter M. Fleming, M.D. and William J. “Billy” Florence, an actor. The group frequently talked about starting a new fraternity for Masons – one centered on fun and fellowship, more than ritual. Fleming and Florence took this idea seriously enough to do something about it.
Billy Florence had been on tour in France, and had been invited to a party given by an Arabian diplomat. The exotic style, flavors and music of the Arabian-themed party inspired him to suggest this as a theme for the new fraternity. Walter Fleming, a devoted fraternity brother, built on Fleming’s ideas and used his knowledge of fraternal ritual to transform the Arabian theme into the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S.).
With the help of the Knickerbocker Cottage regulars, Fleming drafted the ritual, designed the emblem and costumes, formulated a salutation and declared that members would wear the red fez.
The first meeting of Mecca Shriners, the first temple (chapter) established in the United States, was held September 26, 1872.
History of Kena Shriners
Kena Shrine Temple was granted a dispensation on July 13, 1951 at the Imperial Session in New York City which allowed it to operate for one year under dispensation, and then apply for a charter.
The long time dream for a Shrine Temple in Northern Virginia came true when Kena Temple was issued a charter on June 19, 1952, at the Imperial Council Session held in Miami, Florida. The decision to grant this charter was certainly a wise one as Kena Temple has accomplished much in the intervening years and has rightly taken its place among the great Temples of North America. (now known as Shriners International)
Since the charter was received, Kena Shrine had shown a steady growth in members from 837 to 2,866 as of January 1, 1986; it has gained a reputation amongst other Shrine Temples for its friendliness, hospitality, good-fellowship and its high spirits.
To fully cover 34 years of history in the space allocated in this publication would be impossible, so these comments are limited to certain areas.
In reviewing the early years, it is found that Kena got off to a great start. While under dispensation the Temple secured an office in downtown Alexandria with a full time Recorder and Clerk-Stenographer.
Monthly meetings of the membership were held in the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
In the early spring of 1952, the Imperial Potentate made an enjoyable official visit to the Temple. Later that spring the Temple held a ceremonial using its own Cast and Directors Staff, with the Cast in new robes and with a parade through the business district of Arlington displaying floats and units with some 200 Nobles in uniform.
When the charter was issued in June 1959 the Temple was free of debt and the membership stood at 1,092 with all dues paid. In addition 41% of the Nobility held Permanent Contributing Membership in Shriners Hospitals for Crippled Children. (now known as Shriners Hospitals for Children)
The granting of a charter to Kena Temple was by unanimous vote of the Imperial Representatives. In announcing the vote the Imperial Potentate commented "Perhaps we ought to recommend that we have a circular on how it's done as shown by Kena Temple and have it sent out to a lot of Temples." The Imperial Sir concluded this portion of business with this statement: "I am informed Kena Temple will have units marching in the parade tonight." And march they did. It was said this was the first time, up until that time, that a Temple had received its charter and marched in a parade at the same Imperial Council Session. Truly a show of confidence and a display of commitment.
The first requirement of the New Temple was to elect permanent officers for the remainder of the year. The following Nobles became the initial Elected Divan of Kena Temple under charter:
Harry Hammond, Potentate Dr. William Meyer, Chief Rabin Orville F. Rush, Assistant Rabin David C. Book, High Priest and Prophet George G. Yeoman, Oriental Guide Frank L. Cowles, Treasurer Jack A Sullivan, Recorder.
Also elected were Dr. Macon Ware, Roger Sullivan and Albert Wasserman as Trustees and Edward Poole, Elliott Hoffman and William Oakley as members of the Executive Committee. These Nobles together with a great cadre of appointed Officers, Unit Heads, Committee Chairman, and others laid a solid foundation for future administrations to build upon.
In the beginning Kena Temple had a very small jurisdiction Arlington and Fairfax Counties and the City of Alexandria. Repeated attempts to obtain additional territory met with no success. Finally, at the Imperial Council Session in 1970 we were given concurrent jurisdiction in five adjacent counties and the City of Winchester. This helped us maintain our growth. Lastly, at the Session in 1981, at the request of the Four Virginia Temples, concurrent jurisdiction was established throughout the state with each Temple maintaining a small exclusive jurisdiction surrounding the Temple.
The growth in membership of the Temple for the first 25 years was exceptionally good. While membership in recent years has not increased, it has remained fairly constant. Membership as of December 31, 1985 was 2,866.
From the very beginning, Kena Temple has owned property. First, it was what was generally referred to as the “Kena Farm" located off Seminary Road, back of the Hammond High School, consisting of some 12 acres and a house purchased in December of 1952 and sold in April of 1961, at a very substantial profit.
The property on Arlington Boulevard consisting of some 26 acres was purchased in July of 1961 putting the Temple quite a bit in debt. Not being permitted to go further in debt, the Nobility of Kena Temple donated enough money, with no strings attached, to erect the first building and provide the necessary roads, parking lots and utilities. This building was completed in 1964 and is now referred to as the ANEK Building. The debt on the 26 acres was paid off in 1968.
As the need for an adequate and appropriate building became more evident, it was the thought of the leaders of the Temple that a program of this magnitude could be best handled by a holding corporation. After approval by all required parties, the "KTS Holding Corporation" was granted a charter on January 1, 1972.
The responsibilities confronting the Directors of the Corporation were difficult, time consuming and continuing but planning proceeded and construction followed. Ground breaking ceremonies of a new building took place on November 2, 1975 with the Imperial Potentate present. The Grand Master of Masons in Virginia laid the cornerstone on July 17, 1976. The building was completed in 1977, and again the Temple was in debt. We hasten to add that this debt was paid off early in the year 1986 and the Potentate had a mortgage burning and building dedication ceremony on October 5, 1986.
In the spring of 1980, the house and lot at the corner of Arlington Boulevard and Barkley Drive became available. This location is referred to as the Dellinger Property. Wanting to protect the best interest of the Temple, it was decided to attempt to buy the property. While working out the arrangements with the Imperial Council, it was secured by 35 members of the Temple. After on-site inspection and considering reasons for the purchase, the Imperial council authorized the Temple and Holding Corporation to issue 10 year promissory notes to a sufficient number of its members to make the purchase. The Dellinger Property became the Kena Property on February 24, 1981.
Many honors and much recognition have come to Kena Temple over the years. Immediately after receiving our charter we were accepted in the Mid-Atlantic Shrine Association. A number of our members have served as Head of Unit Associations therein, as well as Committee appointments including Chairmanships. One of our Past Potentates served as President of Mid-Atlantic in 1965-66.
Kena Temple was instrumental in the formation of the South Atlantic Shrine Association and we have had ample representation and recognition in this area. One of our Past Potentates served as President of South Atlantic in 1985-86.
On the National level we have received many appointments in many areas. We have had constant representation on the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Unit, Shriners Hospital for the past 29 years.
The biggest honor came at the Imperial Session in 1966 when Senior Past Potentate Orville F. Rush was elected Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America. A tremendous delegation of Kena Nobles and their Ladies journeyed to San Francisco to participate in the festivities of the occasion.
In its 34 years of existence, Kena Temple has had 35 Potentates including our present Potentate, Illustrious Jack Callahan. All have contributed substantially to the advancement, accomplishment and success of the Temple. Those who have served in that office look with pride and satisfaction at the height to which the Temple has risen, and it is their fervent prayer that the Temple will continue to prosper and flourish in the years ahead.
In every Temple the Units are the backbone. Surely this is true in Kena. In countless places, both near and afar, they have marched, played, sang, rode, and romped bringing joy and pleasure to the young and to the old. They have served in every job imaginable at hundreds of Temple activities and events. We salute the men in the red, green and gold, and all other colors including the black tuxedo. You have brought honor to your Temple and credit to yourselves.
We conclude this commentary with a tribute to the Nobility. If it were not for the rank and file, the Nobility, all would have been in vain. There would have been no beginning, no 34 years. Potentates and Officers come and go. Unit members grow tired and retire to the side lines, but the Nobility is always there. It is from the Nobility that we gain our strength, our balance, our encouragement and our financial security. So we say to the Nobility of Kena Temple, where ever disbursed, our eternal gratitude is your reward and your membership card is our safe future.
The above history was originally published in 1986.
In 2010 the name changed to Shriners International from Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles Mystic Shrine (A.A.O.N.M.S) of North America. It is probably more than coincidence that its initials, rearranged, spell out the word "A MASON." There was also a name change from Shriners of North America to Shriners International.
On May 16, 2018 Kena moved from Fairfax to Manassas.
The First Twenty-Five Years of Kena Shriners
George Washington National Masonic Memorial Temple
Standing high on ‘Shooters’ Hill in Alexandria, is a majestic building, erected as a monument, by all Masons in the United States, to the memory of Virginia’s most Illustrious son – the Honorable George Washington, Commander In Chief of the Continental Army, First President of the United States and a Past Master of the Alexandria-Washington Masonic Lodge. Two large rooms of this Temple are maintained by the Shriners of North America. Another large room in this Temple serves as the meeting place of the Lodge of which the great George Washington was Master.
The Divan and members of Kena Temple feel that Alexandria, Virginia, as the very cradle of early American History, is a logical, fit and proper place to erect a shrine for the Nobles of Northern Virginia. We do not have in mind at this time or in the foreseeable future, building a Temple of brick and mortar, but we want to erect a Temple in the hearts and minds of the Nobles of Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax Counties. A Temple we can call our own. A Temple which will be a credit to the Shriners of North America.
Meeting Places – Nobility and Divan
The first meeting of the Nobility of Kena Temple was held on Monday evening, September 10, 1951, at 8:00 pm in the George Washington National Masonic Memorial Temple auditorium. Since that time a monthly meeting has been held on the second Monday of every month in the same place and it has proved ample in space and appurtenances.
For several months after a dispensation had been granted to Kena, the Divan met weekly. In the beginning we met in the Potentate’s private business office, but after we established our own office in Alexandria, as aforementioned, the Divan met there for its meetings when necessary. We now average about two Divan meetings per month.
On November 10, 1951, Kena Temple held its Dispensation Ceremonial in the auditorium of George Washington High School in Alexandria. The facilities proved adequate. The work in the Ceremonial was performed by Acca Temple. Both the cast and the wrecking crew turned in an outstanding performance.
The Dispensation Ceremonial Class, at the conclusion of the ceremonies, took up a collection of their own free will and accord to purchase a beautiful American Flag and an official Temple Flag. This was a noble gesture on the part of these newly initiated Nobles, and it exemplifies the heart-felt interest which has been latent, but is now patent among the Shriners of Northern Virginia.
On May 10, 1952, Kena Temple held its Spring Ceremonial in the spacious auditorium of Washington and Lee High School in Arlington, Virginia.
Kena’s own Ceremonial Cast and Wrecking Crew performed the initiatory ceremonies upon the candidates to the delight of Kena’s Nobility. It was the consensus of opinion of those who witnessed the ceremony that it was a creditable performance, executed to the letter of the Imperial Code requirements.
The Ceremonial started with a parade of our units and nobility. We were assisted by units of Almas Temple of Washington, D.C. The parade route was two miles in length and the parade passed through the heart of the business district of Arlington. It ended on the athletic field of the high school where the Divan and visiting dignitaries gathered on the reviewing stand for a full-fledged review. To the Divan of Kena it was a magnificent sight to behold our very own units uniformed in a gallant array of color – marching as they never marched before – and clothed in the dignity of Shrinedom.
Every Noble of Kena left the Spring Ceremonial with a song in his heart, with faith in the ability of our Nobles to carry on the character building traditions of Shrinedom, and with a Prayer on his lips for a Charter this June.
Future Ceremonials, as far as Kena Temple is concerned, are in the hands of your Committee and the Representatives attending the 1952 Imperial Session at Miami, Florida. Your actions at this Session will govern our Future.
If, in your considered wisdom you do consent to the granting of the Charter to Kena, then we hasten to say that tentative plans have been made to hold a Charter Ceremonial on September 5 and 6, 1952, and we hope to make it a memorable occasion.
Uniformed Bodies and Units
Kena Temple has been very fortunate in its ability to form eight separate Bodies within the Temple….They are as follows:
Legion of Honor 25 Men
Arab Patrol 36 Men
Band 29 Men
Oriental Band 17 Men
Greeters 39 Men
Chanters 32 Men
Wrecking Crew 51 Men
Provost Guard 14 Men
Total number of men in Unit – 243, of which 229 are either uniformed or wear tuxedos. We are happy to say that no expense whatsoever was incurred by the Temple in the purchase of uniforms for our Units. The members are proud of the fact that they purchased the uniforms themselves.
Visit of the Imperial Potentate
On March 1, 1952, Imperial Potentate Robert Gardner Wilson Jr. honored Kena Temple with an official visit. He was accompanied by his charming wife. The Divan met the Potentate and Mrs. Wilson at the airport at 2:00 pm. and took them immediately to the George Mason Hotel where a special luncheon had been arranged in their honor.
Imperial Chief Rabban Remmie Arnold and his charming wife were also present at this luncheon and all of the other festivities honoring the Potentate, as was Judge Abit Nix of the Jurisprudence and Laws Committee.
At 6:00 pm. the Potentate and Mrs. Wilson wee honored with a dinner attended by Imperial Chief Rabban Remmie Arnold and his wife ad the members of Kena’s Divan and their wives. After this the Imperial Potentate and his party were taken by police escort to the Shirlington Theater where the Imperial Potentate, the Imperial Chief Rabban, Judge Abit Nix and Past Potentate Joe Mizell of Acca Temple were introduced to the assembled guests. The Imperial Potentate delivered a very fine address on this occasion.
After all the introductions were made Kena’s band played appropriate music for the various units as they marched upon the stage in their beautiful uniforms of varying hues and styles. During the evening Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Arnold were presented with bouquets of roses, and then the Imperial Potentate and his wife were presented with a joint gift of two blankets and two counterpanes.
The climax of the theater program was a professional show of five acts of entertainment and fun. After leaving the theater, the Imperial Potentate and Mrs. Wilson, the Imperial Chief Rabban and Mrs. Arnold, members of Kena’s Divan and their wives went to the home our High Priest and Prophet for a buffet supper and refreshments.
“This was indeed a memorable occasion.”
Shriners’ Hospital for Crippled Children
Kena Temple’s Nobility is fully cognizant of the tremendous importance of the Shriners’ Hospital for Crippled Children. The maintenance and upkeep of these hospitals throughout the land is the responsibility of every Noble. The Divan of Kena and the Chairman of our Hospital committee have constantly and continuously presented to the Nobility verbal pictures of the great and noble work that can be accomplished through permanent memberships.
With this premise in mind the Divan of Kena is proud and happy to report that we now have 453 Permanent Contributing Memberships in Kena Temple. This means that 41% of Kena’s Nobility hold Permanent Contributing Memberships in the Shriners’ Hospital for Crippled Children. It is our Prayer that more and more Shriners throughout North America will realize the needs of this great cause and will make whatever sacrifice is necessary to become permanent contributing members of the hospital.
During April 1952, a portable, invalid’s chair was donated to Kena for whatever use it might be to our Temple. We immediately located a little Catholic girl in Arlington County, Virginia, who was in dire need of such a chair. This little girl was at one time considered a hopeless cripple. Through the skill of the Doctors in our own Philadelphia Hospital she has been given that ray of hope so necessary to recovery. Her legs are braced with steel, enabling her to stand and play with other children. Kena’s chair has been placed at her disposal for as long as she may need it. The members of this Catholic family have nothing but praise in their hearts and on their lips for the Shriners of North America.
Shrine Clubs in Kena’s Jurisdiction
There are two Shrine Clubs located within the territory assigned to Kena Temple. The Alexandria Shrine Club of Alexandria, Virginia, has a paid membership for 1952 of more than 250 members. It holds its meetings on the first Monday of each month and has as its President a member of Kena’s Divan. The Arlington-Fairfax Shrine Club of Arlington, Virginia, has a paid membership for 1952 of more than 150 members. It holds its meetings on the fourth Monday of each month and has as its President a member of the Ceremonial Cast. Both Clubs are virile, healthy, and happy organizations, and hold the welfare of Kena paramount at all times.
At the time our dispensation was granted in New York City on July 13, 1951, there were the names of 837 Nobles on our petition; demits were issued to 20 Nobles during the fiscal year, and six Nobles died during this period for a total of 26 deductions from our original petition. Our first ceremonial on November 10, 1951, added 216 new Nobles to our membership.
Affiliations from July to December 1951 totaled 65, showing a gain July 13, 1951 to December 31, 1951 of 281 Nobles.
Our Membership on December 31, 1951 was 1,092, a net gain of 255….We are happy to inform your Committee that 100% of the dues of our 1,092 members have been paid.
As Illustrious Potentate of Kena Temple, I have the honor and pleasure of humbly submitting to your Committee this report of the activities of Kena’s Nobles during our year of dispensation. It is submitted herewith as evidence of the individual and collective prayers of 1,092 Nobles of Northern Virginia that a Charter be granted to Kena Temple.
It is submitted as proof of our willingness to work as a proud unit of the great assemblage of Shrine Temples in North America. It is submitted as a token of our efforts to lay before your Committee the facts of our case in order that you might consider them upon their individual merits. It is our Prayer that in your considered judgment you might feel disposed to grant the Nobles of Kena Temple a Charter.
Please allow me to close with these words: I pray the prayer the Easterners do, May the Peace of Allah abide with you; Wherever you stay, wherever you go, May the beautiful palms of Allah grow; Through days of labor and nights of rest, May the love of Good Allah make you blest; So I touch my heart - as the Easterners do, May the Peace of Allah abide with you.
The first requirement of the new Temple was to elect permanent officers for the remainder of the year. This election was held on Monday evening, July 14, 1952, and the following Nobles became the initial Elected Divan of Kena Temple under Charter:
Harry Hammond ---------- Potentate
Dr. William Meyer ---------- Chief Rabban
Orville F. Rush ---------- Assistant Rabban
David C. Book ---------- High Priest and Prophet
Frank L. Cowles ---------- Treasurer
Jack A. Sullivan ---------- Recorder
Also elected were:
Dr. Macon ----------
Roger Sullivan ----------
and Albert Wasserman ---------- Trustees
Edward Poole ----------
Elliott Hoffman ----------
and William Coakley ---------- Members of the Executive Committee
Harry Hammond ----------
Dr. William Meyer ----------
Orville Rush ----------
and Bernard Suttler ---------- Representatives to the Imperial Council
Harry Hammond ----------
Oliver Creekmore ----------
Harry Bendall ----------
and Edward Buckley ---------- Representative to the Mid-Atlantic Shrine Association
Potentate Hammond named the following Nobles to the initial Appointed Divan:
Bernard M. Suttler ---------- First Ceremonial Master
George R. Weaver ---------- Second Ceremonial Master
Ollie S. Mason ---------- Director
James H. Rankin ---------- Marshal
John E. Posey ---------- Captain of the Guard
Tony Z. Kennedy ---------- Outer Guard
Thomas B. Dimmick ---------- Chaplain
The Officers were installed by Ara M. Daniels, a Past Potentate of Almas Temple, and a Past Grand Master of Masons of the District of Columbia, who at that time was residing in Herndon, Virginia.
The first Unit Heads of Kena Temple under Charter were:
Arab Patrol ---------- Clyde Glicker
Band ---------- Harry Carlock
Chanters ---------- Edward McReedy
Funmakers ---------- Charles Schwer
Greeters ---------- Donald Black
Legion of Honor ---------- John Haley
Oriental Band ---------- Howard Clinkenbeard
Provost Guard ---------- John Poteet
Wrecking Crew ---------- Ollie Mason
Orville Rush was Director of the Ceremonial Cast and George G. Yeatman was Director of the units. You will note that several units have changed names over the years. This was in conformity with unification established when units formed associations, both on the local and National level. Potentate Hammond was quick to establish some important committees. Those committees and their chairmen were:
By-Laws ---------- Orville Rush
Membership ---------- John Possey
Entertainment ---------- William Florence
Special Events ---------- Harry Bendall
Ceremonials ---------- Dave Book
Dinner and Banquets ---------- John Haley
Crippled Children ---------- Harry Newton
Publicity ---------- Roger Sullivan
Wardrobe ---------- Henry Casey
Herbert DeBerry was named Electrician and Dr. Jules Harvis was named Medical Director. Do you Charter members in the audience and others with long time service remember those men? Those men, along with others, set the wheels in motion. They made decisions for the future, with no history of the past for reference.
Did the wheels keep turning? Were the decisions sound? Absolutely yes! Let us see why by continuing with the next areas.
Many honors and much recognition have come to Kena Temple over the years. More than most I dare say. Immediately upon receiving our Charter, were accepted in the Mid-Atlantic Shrine Association. A number of our members have served as Head of Unit Associations therein, as well as, committee appointments. One of our Past Potentates served as President of the Mid-Atlantic in the year 1965-1966. Kena Temple was instrumental in the formation of the South Atlantic Shrine Association and we have had ample representation and recognition in this area. On the National level, much good fortune has come our way. Here too, a number of our members have served as head of Unit Associations. We have received many committee appointments, including chairmanships. In fact, I think I can truthfully say, in the past 20 years, there has not been a time when we have not had an Imperial appointment and, on numerous occasions, during that time, more than one. Several of our members have served as Imperial Potentate’s Aides. One of our Past Potentates was a mainstay in the Frank Land Memorial Breakfast Committee for many yeas. Another Past Potentate has been the Deputy Imperial Marshal for the past 13 years. We have had permanent representation on the Hospital Board of the Philadelphia Unit of the Shriners Hospital for the past 20 years. And of course, the biggest honor of all came at the Imperial Council session in Minneapolis in 1957, when Past Potentate Orville F. Rush was elected Imperial Outer Guard. We watched with pride as he advanced through the Imperial Divan, step by step, year by year, until that big moment arrived when he would become Imperial Potentate, a year earlier than expected due to the untimely death of the preceding officer. A tremendous delegation of Temple Officers, Unit Members, Nobles, families, and friends journeyed to San Francisco in July 1966 to join the festivities of the occasion. The Pageant was presented to a packed house. The Parade—with Kena near the front for the first time ever. Unit Members, who hadn’t marched for years, returning to the fold, giving us unexpected strength in those parades. Kena Temple in all its splendor. It was a moment we shall never forget.
The Imperial Potentate honored Kena Temple even further by selecting as his Chaplain, his long time friend and minister, Reverend Woodrow Wilson Hayzlett. Imperial Sir Rush brought the Imperial Session to Washington in 1967 with Almas and Kena as Co-hosts. It was a spectacular convention. Vice President and Noble Hubert Humphrey was Grand Marshal of the Parades. President Lyndon Johnson and Mrs. Johnson joined the Imperial Officers on the reviewing stand in front of the White House to view a part of the day parade. And again, Kena Units marched next to the front, this time in both parades.
Kena Temple in all of its glory. Our man at the top. A great moment for everyone. I cannot help but wonder, will such a moment ever be ours again? Certainly, I want to add that three of our members have served as Grand Master of Masons of Virginia: Most Worshipful Sirs John Malcolm Stewart, Harry Bruce Green, and Stewart Wilson Miner.
From the very beginning, Kena Temple has owned property. First, it was what was generally referred to as the “Kena Farm” located off Seminary Road, back of the Hammond High School, consisting of some 12 acres purchased on December 8, 1952, from the Hansborough Estate. The house on the property was completely remodeled and was used for unit meeting and recreational purposes. The grounds were improved to include parking lots, picnic areas, and other needed facilities. In addition, the Directors Staff Members constructed, at their own expense, a building for their use as well as equipment storage. This was called the “Book Building”.
Yes, the old farm provided Kena Temple with a home and fulfilled our needs and requirements at the time, but restrictions and ordinances began to close in on us and it became necessary to sell. This was done on April 18, 1961, at a very substantial profit.
At about the same time, a tract of ground, consisting of some 26 acres located on Arlington Boulevard, adjacent to Barkley Drive, was made available to us. Some, who were long used to the Alexandria area, thought it was too far out. But the beauty of the property and the accessibility of roads overcame all objections, and the property was purchased from the Thompson Trustees on July 27, 1961, putting the Temple quite a bit in debt. For some months we were able to keep our equipment at the Book Building and Unit meetings were held at George Harvey’s establishment in Merrifield. As the Old Kena Farm property developed, it became necessary to have our own building, however, the imperial Potentate would not let us go further in debt, but, the Nobility of Kena Temple arose to the occasion, and they donated enough money, with no strings attached, to erect the first building and provide the necessary roads, parking lots, and utilities. This building was begun in 1963 and completed in 1964. It has served a great purpose to Kena Temple, its Officers, its Units, its Committees, and to the Nobility as a whole, as well as to other Masonic affiliated bodies, including DeMolay and Jobs Daughters. AS to the development of our new building, I will cover that in my next category.
As the need for an adequate and appropriate building became more evident, it was the thought of the Leaders of the Temple that a program of this magnitude could be best handled by a Holding Corporation. This was put before the membership for consideration. They agreed and authorized the Potentate to proceed. A committee was appointed to formulate the required Articles of Incorporation and draw up the necessary By-Laws. The name selected was “KTS Holding Corporation,” which is short for Kena Temple Shrine Holding Corporation. After approval by all required parties, including the Imperial Potentate and his legal counsel, the request was made to the Commission in Richmond for a Charter. This was granted on January 1, 1972.
The responsibilities confronting the Directors were difficult, time consuming, and continuing. All did not always agree on all matters, but planning proceeded and construction followed. Ground breaking ceremonies took place on November 2, 1975, and the Grand Master of Masons of Virginia laid the cornerstone on July 17, 1976. What you see here today is the final result. Rather than me telling you all about it, the Potentate is going to invite you to tour the building following these ceremonies.
I hope you will be pleased.
Kena and the South Atlantic Shrine Association
Many of the units and clubs comprising the Kena Shrine participate in the Mid-Atlantic Shrine Associations (MASA) others participate in the South Atlantic Shrine Association (SASA). Some of these units and clubs participate in both MASA and SASA. The participation in one association over another is not really material. What is material is that there is participation. While no accomplishment is generally achieved without cooperation of members of a group it is speculated that much of the impetus that got SASA organized and off the ground is attributable to members of Kena.
In the beginning, 1973, a group of Nobles met in Greensboro, North Carolina, with the idea of forming a new Association. These Nobles represented temples from North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The temples meeting for that first time to form what was to become the SASA were:
Acca Temple Richmond, VA
Hejaz Temple Greenville, SC
Jamil Temple Colombia, SC
Kazim Temple Roanoke, VA
Kehdive Temple Norfolk, VA
Kena Temple Alexandria, VA
Oasis Temple Charlotte, NC
Omar Temple Charleston, SC
Representing Kena at this first meeting were Illustrious William L. (Bill) Peele, Potentate in 1975 and Illustrious Harold F. Elsberg, Potentate in 1976. Illustrious Peele served as Chairman of the first meeting and at this meeting Illustrious Bruce Boyette was tasked to set up the By-Laws of the yet to be formed Associations. The next meeting was held in Charlotte, NC, at Oasis Temple and again Illustrious Peele acted as Chairman. After several more meetings during the year and much discussion and hard work, the By-Laws and Constitution were drawn up for the Association and submitted to Imperial for approval. The Imperial Council approved the By-Laws and voted to grant a Charter to SASA at the Imperial Session in Atlantic City, NJ, in July 1974. Again, Illustrious Peele acted as General Chairman. Illustrious Phillip Gray, Past Potentate of Omar Temple was selected as the first Director General with other Temples assuming chairs for parade, transportation, housing and banquet. At the parade in Atlantic City that year General Motors furnished twenty-two Oldsmobile convertibles for the parade. What a sight that must have been.
Having received approval of the By-Laws and being granted a Charter the SASA held its first official meeting September 21st, 22nd, and 23rd 1974 in Myrtle Beach, SC. The headquarters for SASA was then, as it is now, the Landmark Motor Inn. On September 22nd the President’s Banquet was held and the following officers were elected:
President, Phillip Gray Past Potentate, Omar Temple
1st Vice President, Harry M. Bryant Past Potentate, Oasis Temple
2nd Vice President, Louis E. McAllister Chief Rabban, Acca Temple
3rd Vice President, Ronald K. Terrell Potentate, Hejaz Temple
4th Vice President, Luther M. Cromartie Past Potentate, Sudan Temple
5th Vice President, Robert H. Foxwell Potentate, Kehdive Temple
Secretary – Treasurer, James W. Clamp Jamil Temple
Also present at the first SASA Convention was Past Imperial Potentate Aubrey Graham and Past Imperial Chaplain, Reverend Doctor, Woodrow Wilson Hayzlett. Illustrious Peele had acted as Chairman of the first Convention and at the business session, the representatives elected him the first President of SASA. Reportedly the convention was very successful and there were in fact 5,338 registered attendees. While these numbers are impressing one cannot help but wonder what this size of a crowd must have looked like at the Saturday Parade.
Over the years since its formation in 1974, Kena has continued to serve in leadership positions within SASA both in the SASA governing body and also in a number of leadership positions in the various Unit Organizations. This participation has been extremely important in that without the participation of the Units the Association as a governing organization would cease to exist. Among those from Kena who have served the governing bodies as SASA President in addition to Illustrious Peele were Illustrious Harold F. Elsberg, Illustrious Cecil J. Sills, and Illustrious Daryl A. “Skip” Hamilton. Among those who hold Emeritus Status in SASA is Kena Past Potentate, Illustrious Russell J. Werle who is Secretary Treasurer Emeritus.
Since its formation in 1974 there have been those in Kena that have not favored the idea of Kena becoming a member of SASA. However, regardless of ones position on the matter, there is no denying that members of Kena were key to getting this organization that has grown to become SASA up and running.