At the 2023 Annual Meeting in Louisville, Supreme Council named Ill. Walter F. Wheeler their new Sovereign Grand Commander, as well as elected additional leadership.
At the Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, the Supreme Council of Scottish Rite, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction installed Ill. Walter F. Wheeler as Sovereign Grand Commander. This change in leadership comes on the heels of Sovereign Grand Commander Peter J. Samiec, 33°, stepping down, having committed to a two-year tenure at the Annual Meeting in 2021.
Commander Wheeler most recently served as Director of Charities at Supreme Council, Deputy for the state of Michigan and Active Member for Supreme Council, as well as Grand Treasurer General for Supreme Council. The role of Deputy for the state of Michigan will now be assumed by Illustrious Timothey S. Marshbanks, 33°.
The Director of Charities role will be decided at a later date in time.
Steven E. Smith, 33°, of Rhode Island will serve as Grand Lieutenant Commander, replacing Mark C. Roth, 33°. Ill. Bro. Smith served as Deputy for the state of Rhode Island since 2016.
Laurel “Arby” Humphrey, 33°, will serve as Grand Minister of State, replacing Richard W. Elliot, 33°. Ill. Bro. Humphrey served as an Active Member and State Lieutenant Commander for Wisconsin since 2016.
Illustrious G. Michael Morris of New York will serve as Grand Treasurer General, replacing Walter F. Wheeler, 33°. Ill. Bro. Morris served as Deputy for New York for two years.
Re-elected to continue his term as Grand Secretary General is Douglas R. Policastro, 33°. Ill. Bro. Policastro has served as Deputy for New Jersey for five years and Grand Secretary General since 2017.
New State Deputies
The following Active Members were elected to serve as Deputies:
Ricky L. Swalm, 33°, will become the Deputy for the state of Delaware.
Timothey S. Marshbanks, 33°, MSA, will become the Deputy for the state of Michigan.
Scott D. Inglis, 33°, will become the Deputy for the state of Massachusetts.
New Active Members
Henry A Haisch, Jr., 33°, was elected as an Active Member for the state of Illinois.
Roger S. VanGorden, 33°, was elected as an Active Member for the state of Indiana.
Richard D. Tonda, 33°, was elected as Active Member for the state of Michigan.
Mark A. Haines, 33°, was elected as Active Member for the state of Pennsylvania.
Active Emeritus Members
The following changes were made constitutionally by age requirement. The following Active Members will become Active Emeritus Members:
- James L. Tungate, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for Illinois
- Mark C. Roth, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for New Hampshire
- Robert F. Ogg, Jr., 33°, Active Emeritus Member for Rhode Island
- Herbert J. Atkinson, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for Delaware
- Daniel M. Wilson, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for New Jersey
- Robert C. Schremser, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for Massachusetts
- Randall R. Milone, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for Illinois
- William G. Basso II, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for Vermont
- Dennis W. Pothier, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for Rhode Island
- Gerald J. Sharpe, 33°, Active Emeritus Member for New Jersey
Donald M. Moran, 33°, retires as Deputy for Massachusetts, but will remain an Active Member. Illustrious Herbert J. Atkinson, retires as Deputy for Delaware and will become an Active Emeritus Member.
Sovereign Grand Commander Biography
Commander Wheeler began his journey as a member of Grand Rapids Chapter, Order of DeMolay in 1970. He served as Master Councilor in 1973 and District Master Councilor of District #4 in 1974. He is a holder of the degree of Chevalier, as well as the DeMolay Legion of Honor. In 2012 he was inducted into the Michigan DeMolay Hall of Fame. He is an Active member of the DeMolay International Supreme Council. He is also a recipient of the Grand Cross of Honor from International Order of Rainbow for Girls and the Grand Triangle of Honor from Job’s Daughters International.
Commander Wheeler was raised a Master Mason in Grand River Lodge #34 (now Grand Rapids Lodge #34) in 1977 and served as Worshipful Master in 1985. He served the Grand Lodge of Michigan as Grand Master from 2006-2007 and Grand Treasurer from 2007-2010. He holds Honorary Membership in 25 Michigan Lodges. He is an Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey. Commander Wheeler served as the Executive Director/CEO for the Michigan Masonic Charitable Foundation from 2009-2020.
He has been a Scottish Rite Mason since 1980 and is a member of the Valley of Michigan. He was coroneted a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, Honorary member of the Supreme Council in 1997 in Grand Rapids. He served as Sovereign Prince of Cyrus Council Princes of Jerusalem in 1994-95, Commander-In-Chief of DeWitt Clinton Consistory in 2001-2002 and in 2009, was Thrice Potent Master in Moriah Lodge of Perfection.
He twice served as President of the Board of Trustees of the Valley of Grand Rapids, and from 2011-2020, he served on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Learning Centers. He is a Past President of the Grand Rapids Scottish Rite Club, and a holder of the Valley’s Thespian Award for distinguished service in the degree work of the Valley.
Commander Wheeler was made an Active Member of the Supreme Council in Boston in 2009.
Commander Wheeler is a member of all York Rite bodies and is a holder of the Knight York Cross of Honor (KYCH). He is a Past Puissant Sovereign or St. Vincent’s Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine, and a Past Sovereign Master of Mt. Moriah Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees. He is also a member of the York Rite Sovereign College, Shriners International, Eastern Star, High Twelve International, the Rosicrucian’s, and the Grotto (M.O.V.P.E.R.)
During his professional career, Commander Wheeler was a partner in several businesses in Michigan, including 2 bowling centers, 2 restaurants/lounges, a real estate holding company, a trucking company, and a marketing company.
He met his wife, Vickie, at a DeMolay Installation in 1972. At the time Vickie was a member of Job’s Daughters Bethel #67 in Grandville, Michigan. They have been happily married since 1976 and have three sons: Andrew, Justin, and Tyler and 5 grandchildren.
Commander Wheeler’s Vision for the Scottish Rite, NMJ
Ill. Brother Wheeler is humbled and honored to lead the Scottish Rite during an exciting time of growth and transformation. His focus will be on the future of Scottish Rite Masonry.
“The future is full of possibilities and opportunities for growth and improvement. By being open to new ideas we can seize the chance to advance our fraternity. Concentrating on the future will allow us to set new goals and aspirations and will encourage innovative thinking and problem solving,” Wheeler said.
“I thank former Commander Samiec for helping set a successful leadership transition,” he added. “I wish him and wife Gail all the best in the next chapter of their lives.”
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