"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Treasurer of Historic Lodge Commits Suicide

WB Dwight Riddle, Treasurer of Benevolent Lodge 3 in Milledgeville, Georgia, committed suicide at his lodge building on Sunday afternoon. He was 58 and and had served as Master of the lodge in 1994.

The case is being investigated independently of the local sheriff's department by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to avoid any potential conflict of interest, as the lodge has several police officers as members, including the local Chief of Police. 

From the article posted Monday night on the Milledgeville Union-Recorder website:
Joe Wooten, special agent in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 6 Office in Milledgeville, identified the victim as Dwight Riddle.

Wooten told the newspaper Monday morning that Riddle was pronounced dead at 3:40 p.m. Sunday from a gunshot wound. The shooting took place in the parking lot of the local Masonic Lodge, near the U.S. Post Office downtown.
The cause of death has been ruled a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
Wooten said an autopsy would not be performed.
Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee said he had received a call Friday night about a large sum of money reportedly missing from the Masonic Benevolent Lodge No. 3.

Riddle served as treasurer of the local Masonic Lodge, Massee said.

Massee said he requested that the GBI work the financial investigation, since he was a member of the local Masonic Lodge, along with Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord.

“We’ve got deputies in the lodge, too,” Massee said, noting he decided it best to seek the outside assistance of the GBI to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

The sheriff said he later telephoned Swicord to inform him of his decision and that the police chief agreed that seeking the GBI’s assistance was the best idea.

“On Sunday, the Grand Lodge of Georgia had requested that the local lodge here contact Mr. Riddle and ask him to bring the checkbook in because they wanted to do an internal audit,” Massee said.
After learning of the request, Riddle went to the local lodge and turned in the checkbook, Massee told the newspaper.
“He then returned outside to his car and committed suicide,” Massee said.
“Even with Mr. Riddle’s suicide, there will be a continuing investigation concerning the finances at the Masonic Lodge No. 3.”
The sheriff said when he learned that officials with the Grand Lodge of Georgia wanted to see the checkbook Sunday that he sent a deputy sheriff to the Masonic Benevolent Lodge No. 3.
“I called (Deputy Lt.) Nick Goddard and I said, Nick, can you go down and meet with them,” Massee said. “So, Nick was there when the shooting happened.”
Massee said after Riddle returned the checkbook that he reportedly said he had to get something else out of his car.
While the deputy was standing nearby, Riddle emerged from the car with a pistol and was told by the deputy on two different occasions to put the pistol down, Wooten said.
The case remained under investigation Monday afternoon by the GBI.

Benevolent Lodge 3 was established in 1817, originally as the ninth Masonic lodge in the state of Georgia. Their temple is the oldest Masonic building in Georgia that has been in continuous use as such since its construction. They are celebrating their bicentennial anniversary this year, but this is a certainly a doleful footnote to that chapter in their long history.

Funeral services for WB Dwight Riddle will be conducted at 11 AM on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 in the Chapel of Williams Funeral Home of Milledgeville.

Regardless of the outcome of any investigation, this is a senseless tragedy. A Brother's column has been broken, and his Brethren mourn.

UPDATE 7/26/2017:

Riddle's obituary has been updated HERE.


  1. Please don't say he "committed suicide." He "died by suicide." Words matter. You "commit" a crime. You "commit" a sin. People who die from suicide are often victims of mental illness or untreated depression. They deserve to be remembered as victims and not perpetrators, just like we wouldn't say that someone "committed cancer" or "committed a heart attack."

    I know you meant no harm by it, I'm not not trying to scold you. I used to use the term "committed suicide," too, and never gave it a second thought until a friend and brother who volunteers for the Samaritans explained it to me and I realized he was right.

    It's just a request, one which is easy and harmless to adhere to, but it's not an order. It's up to you if you do it or not. I'm aware this may invoke a defensive response from those who bristle at requests to be conscious of the consequences of the words we choose, but I hope it won't.

    Dave Brown

    1. Dave, I understand your sensitivity and how a personal experience can shape your own viewpoint. Nonetheless, I quote from the newspaper account, “He then returned outside to his car and committed suicide,” Massee said.

      The term is what it is, and you are attempting to pack it with far greater baggage than the simple statement about the event itself warrants.

      I notice in his obituary that no family is mentioned anywhere, no widow, no siblings, no children. I know nothing of his life, nor do you, and words in a notice like that tell no story at all. Perhaps the note that sympathies may be sent to a Georgia cancer organization might hold a clue, but I don't know.

      Investigators will do their jobs, a conclusion will be made, possible reasons for it will undoubtedly be advanced, and the lodge and/or his family will choose to either reveal it, or let the Brother's memory simply rest in the peace he brought for himself Sunday afternoon. As to the real why, no one can ever really know.

    2. Nevertheless, the syntax of "died by" vs. "committed" is logical and more respectful of facts in light of his obituary. Please, consider it.

    3. Dave Brown is correct in this case. Usage of the phrase " committed " furthers the stigma that mental illness should be shameful and may stop someone from seeking life saving help.


      Rest in peace, Brother

    4. I've got to side with Chris on this one. The act of killing is separate from the motives that drove it. People kill themselves for many reasons. In some cases, it is protest. In the case of the terminally ill, it is to escape suffering. Mental illness may be the cause in a great many suicides, but they are not interchangeable terms. To kill oneself is to commit a crime, against God (if one is of an Abrahamic faith) and the state. And it is a commitment from which there is no return. Therefore, just as one commits a crime, commits homicide, one also commits suicide. There may be an underlying cause of mental illness that can be adequately addressed before that commitment is made, but changing the language to avoid a perceived stigma to the survivors is ineffective. My sympathy is with the family, brothers and friends of Bro. Riddle.

      And to anyone out there considering something similar, please. It's only money. We can make more. The pain and shame you'll inflict on the survivors is 1000x worse.

    5. Dave, I knew Dwight Riddle my whole life, he and his wife lived across the street from me when I was growing up and then moved a mile up the road. He was survived by his wife of 36 years, a son, daughter and their spouses, and 2 biological grandchildren and 2 stepgrandchildren, as well as a brother, and 4 sisters.

  2. Sorry to burst in with facts here in this very sensitive issue, however suicide IS a crime! It is the crime of self-murder, and therefore it is proper to say that "he or she COMMITTED suicide." It cannot be prosecuted, because the offender is no longer alive to prosecute but it IS in fact a crime!

    1. ...fair enough ...

      We're a team

    2. That's a myth. There are very few legal jurisdictions where it's actually considered a crime.

    3. Ditto! In fact, every jurisdiction in which I have lived suicide has been a crime. Yes, I understand the stigma. No one better, as I have lost two cousins and my own brother to suicide. It sucks. My heart goes out to this brother's family and to the Lodge and the Grand Lodge of Georgia.

  3. No matter the cause or wording it remains very sad. I hate to see anyone, more especially a brother end his life in this manner.

  4. I hope that if we find mishandeling of lodge funds we can putprocesses in place to ensureit doesnt happen again. The temptation is too great for some. Checks and balances are needed to lessen the occurances. No amount of money is worth his life.

  5. A terrible event like this accentuates the necessity of checks and balances over all the administrative offices of Lodges, whether money is involved or not. It is all to easy to drown under the pressures.
    Fraternal Regards,
    Doug Banin in England.

  6. A terrible event like this accentuates the necessity of checks and balances over all the administrative offices of Lodges, whether money is involved or not. It is all to easy to drown under the pressures.

  7. A terrible event like this accentuates the necessity of checks and balances over all the administrative offices of Lodges, whether money is involved or not. It is all to easy to drown under the pressures.

  8. Condolences to those he left behind. May God be merciful to him.
    Steve C in CT

  9. Two years later and I still think about this and what was going on at my lodge around the same time.

    Together they exposed that Masonry and money were a volatile mix, because too many people I was around obviously cared more about money than other people.

    My lodge was going to scrape up asbestos tiles in the lodge room. They only told me they were abestos indirectly during a lodge meeting (a part opened on the EA level), while talking about getting a new floor. Or course you guys know that we can be rough on the floor during rituals....Why hadnt they gotten them removed professionally before? Arent members health more important than money for soda?

    Scraping up the floor to me is akin to murder-suicide, and Grand Lodge of Texas that year allowed guns into lodges.....
    Id say thats scarier and worse than stealing lodge funds, if you dont think so then shame on you for thinking youre a real Mason.

    Why even have so much expenditures? We should just be doing rituals in rented out rooms and be friends relaxing in pubs and/or coffee cafes!

    I really dont care if the Masons here hate me, living in Texas showed me that this is Hell and were here to be punished. But beyond that to help each other get back to Heaven....people really dont like helping others here though.

    Mental health services are total crap, they just want you to take your pills and shut up. Being in mental wards you meet people who have been in them 12, 20, 30 times and been on just as many medications. Medications are scams, some people get help from them but honestly, different people have different deeper problems than others.

    Im mean about the members that did me wrong, but because Im used to better people. I have met some amazing Masons though and I dont want to be AntiMasonic, Im anti-idiotchristian though.
    If the devil ruins the party I dont think that was that fun of a party you know?

    Everything happens for a reason, and as weird as this sounds, I have to say, Thank You to WB Dwight Riddle for exposing a sad truth to me, youre death is not in vain.


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