Douglas Kaylor, 33°, our Deputy for Ohio, was perplexed. He received a complaint from a fellow Mason about the deteriorated condition of the Masonic burial section at Fort Steuben Burial Estates. The 85-year-old Masonic monuments were in considerable disrepair, a number of graves were overgrown, and burial markers were chipped and dirty.

“It was clear that our departed Brethren deserved their resting places to be restored to a state of dignity and quietude,” said Brother Kaylor. “I wasn’t sure where to turn as the Grand Lodge of Ohio doesn’t own or maintain these burial sections. But, it occurred to me that it might make for a gratifying Valley project.”

Brother Kaylor reached out to Edsel Emery, 33°, Deputy’s Representative for the Valley of Steubenville, and proposed the idea. “If the men in the Valley were looking for a project to come together in fellowship and service, I asked Edsel if this might be a good one for their consideration,” Kaylor said.

“We didn’t hesitate,” said Brother Emery.

Masonic chair crumbling from years of neglect

Masonic chair crumbling from years of neglect

Valley of Steubenville to the Rescue

Brother Emery and his Brother Masons in Jefferson County gladly took on the labor of love, from financing to restoration, and everything in between.

Valley Secretary Wayne Fulmer, 32°, worked closely with Fort Steuben Burial Estates to get the project underway and gain use of the chapel for a public rededication ceremony when the work was complete.

“Brothers showed up with generators, power washers, and work gloves. And throughout last summer, the work progressed,” Brother Emery explained.

Michael DiLeonardo, 32°, a contractor and craftsman by trade, laid the bricks for the altar that had lost its façade and disintegrated to nothing more than a stack of moss-covered concrete blocks. One Brother hand-painted the symbols of office on each chair. A bronze plaque was added to the altar and Brother Emery, who owns an engraving business, inscribed an exquisite marble bible and donated it to the project, in addition to 500 bricks to use for the altar.

Brothers Mike DiLeonardo and Scott Pasco hard at work

Brothers Mike DiLeonardo and Scott Pasco hard at work

Rare Public Ceremony

On July 13, a public rededication ceremony was held at Fort Steuben Burial Estates, led by Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons of Ohio Jess Raines, Grand Line of Ohio, and Grand Lodge officers from throughout the state.

A re-consecration ceremony was also performed and included the pouring of wine and oil, and the laying of corn and the wages of a Master Mason on the altar. Bagpipers played in the background during the Grand Line procession.

Despite Brother Emery’s concern about managing so many logistical details throughout the project, as well as organizing the rededication ceremony, he said, “it served as a beautiful tribute that honored those who came before us.”

Fellow Masons that have family interred in that area of the cemetery relayed their gratitude, saying their hearts are warmed by the work completed by their Brothers.

The Fort Steuben Burial Estates cemetery board was equally impressed.

“They made a $500 donation to the project,” Brother Emery said. “In addition, they have offered several plots that the Valley will have title to so that they can be offered to Brothers in need.”

Masonic chair post-refurbishment

Masonic chair post-refurbishment

Symbolism through Service

Brother Kaylor thanked everyone who played a role in the restoration project at the ceremony, citing the 24° Scottish Rite degree that uses the story of the dedication of the Temple of King Solomon to emphasize that a mutual belief in a Supreme Being binds men together in the service of humanity and brotherhood.

Edsel Emery, deputy representative for the Valley of Steubenville, Masons of Ohio Grand Master Jess Raines, and Douglas Kaylor, Deputy for Ohio

From left: Edsel Emery, deputy representative for the Valley of Steubenville, Masons of Ohio Grand Master Jess Raines, and Douglas Kaylor, Deputy for Ohio

“As 32° Scottish Rite Masons, we teach that the true temple is always found in the heart of men and women. As friends and families come to this place to lay their loved ones to rest, we hope that the order and beauty reflected here in the stonework and craft being honored this day will inspire them, and that in their hearts, they will find peace and comfort and hope,” Kaylor said.