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


“The Masonic system represents a stupendous and beautiful fabric, founded on universal purity, to rule and direct our passions, to have faith and love in God, and charity toward man.”
— William Howard Taft

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Alas, My Brethren! Death of Three Brothers

Alice, Wiley and I are continuing our trip across the western United States, and we've stopped for a bit in Southern California to visit my family before turning back eastward. But the last ten days have brought news of three unexpected deaths which have affected me deeply, and I wanted to take the opportunity to mark the passing of these three noteworthy brethren — Donald C. Seeley, T. Edward Page, and John Slifko. 

Ernest Hemingway wrote, "Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another." Each of these three brethren lived very different lives, achieved very different milestones, affected very different people, but they 'lived respected and die regretted'. They leave this world better than they found it, but it is nonetheless an emptier place without them today.



WB Donald C. Seeley

On August 2nd, my longtime friend Worshipful Brother Donald Crosby Seeley of Indianapolis passed away at the age of 79 of natural causes. Don was one of a tiny handful of dedicated brethren who kept my mother lodge, Broad Ripple Lodge No. 643 from closing its doors during its troubled years of 1998-2001. He was our master ritualist for such a very long time. Scores of our members have Don to thank for conferring their degrees over the years, for mentoring so many of us, and for holding us all to the highest of standards. Don was that rare ritualist who truly understood the words he delivered and the messages they imparted, and his delivery was always precise and genuine.

For many of us from the north side of Indianapolis, Don will always be King Solomon.

A bit of trivia for the handful of us who fondly remember the days of pioneering Indianapolis radio station WNAP (the Wrath of the Buzzard!") with its notorious raft race. Don was the station's sales manager for many of those great years, and he also initiated our late Brother "Big John" Gillis into Broad Ripple in the 1990s.

Don's memorial service was held at our lodge last Friday, and his cremains are to be interred later this month in Michigan City, where he was born in 1939. I shall miss him, but I will always be able to close my eyes and hear his own sonorous delivery reflected back in the voices of countless of my lodge brethren in the coming years. That is a noble legacy he leaves behind which few others can ever claim.




WB T. Edward 'Tracy' Page


Yesterday, Wednesday August 15th, Worshipful Brother T. Edward 'Tracy' Page went to the door of his home to meet a longtime family friend and former client, and was apparently shot and killed by the 83 year old man. Police have arrested his attacker, but no one has yet revealed any motive in the senseless killing. Tracy was an attorney in Hobart, Indiana, and was well known in the community. This tragedy has shocked everyone in the region, and devastated the entire Indiana Masonic family. (Updated information and details about the murder have been reported on Friday HERE.)

Tracy served both as an attorney and a part-time judge in Lake County, Indiana (he was known for wearing a red robe in court, in imitation of English judges). He was just days away from retirement this month, and he had intended to teach law in his retirement years. He was deeply respected and extremely well-liked, which makes this news so inexplicable.

He was a kind and generous gentleman and Mason. Tracy was currently serving this year as the Worshipful Master of Hobart's M. L. McClelland Lodge No. 357 and he was an enthusiastic Scottish Rite Mason and Sir Knight in Valparaiso Commandery of Knights Templar. He was also the real-life brother of famed sportscaster and Mason, Paul Page of Indianapolis. 

Visitation for Tracy will be 
Friday, August 24th at the Geisen Funeral Home 606 E 113th Ave, Crown Point, IN, from 3 to 8PM. (219) 663-2500. 

A Masonic funeral will be held at 10AM on Saturday, August 25th at McCelland Lodge in Hobart Indiana, and services will conclude there. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to The Scottish Rite Dyslexic Centers or The Shriner’s Children Hospitals.




John Slifko, PhD


Finally, I was just forwarded a message about the death today of John Slifko after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. When I first joined the fraternity in the late 1990s, John's name frequently came up throughout the online Masonic community, especially in the esoteric realm. He straddled both the regular and irregular Masonic—as well as the academic—worlds, and at about that time, he and professor Margaret Jacob were organizing the Roosevelt Center for the Study of Civil Society and Freemasonry at UCLA. 

John's Masonic interests ran more in the direction of French-derived Freemasonry, and he was briefly associated with the ill-fated Grand Orient of the United States. But because he was so widely involved in the fraternity's esoteric aspects rather than personal controversies or political considerations, he was welcomed a voice of reason and civility amidst the turmoil of that experiment. John's interest was always in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge, wherever it led, regardless of whose brand name was on the letterhead. Because of his winning personality, sharp intellect, and wide interests, he made lifelong friendships around the globe in nearly every avenue of Masonic philosophy and obediences. He was truly unique in the Masonic world, and we need many more like him.

John and I corresponded off and on over the last 20 years, and we spoke by phone on several occasions. His illness was diagnosed in 2013, and worse, his wife Belinda was also diagnosed with her own cancer that very same year. John's was pernicious, and he attempted to fight it with every resource available. Sadly, he lost that battle today.

Rather than attempt to patch together his many achievements over the years, I will quote from his longtime friend Eogan Ballard's  The Hedge Mason blog entry today where I read the news of his passing:
Those who knew John knew he was no stranger to the world of Freemasonry. Those who did not know the man or his character may not have not realized that he frequently played a role behind the scenes to avoid controversy and to assure positive outcomes in any venture to which his name was attached. The path he trod was always guided by the highest ethics.

In his career he brushed shoulders and maintained relationships with some significant figures in American Cultural life. He maintained a communication with and interviewed Burl Ives, and was the personal secretary to Manly P. Hall for some time. He maintained close ties with people and organizations involved with Freemasonry and esoteric studies in Europe, North America, and Latin America.

John Slifko was an expert in urban planning and Freemasonry. He graduated from San Francisco State University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies and Geography. In 1989, John Slifko received his Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and more recently received a Doctorate in Geography from the same institution. He served with Councilwoman Ruth Galanter from 1988 to 1989 as a Planning Deputy for Los Angeles International Airport. John also worked as a Legislative Aide and a Field Representative in Congress for eight years.

As Founder and Co-Director of the Roosevelt Center for the study of Civil Society and Freemasonry, John Slifko raised funds to support scholars and gave lectures, and tirelessly promoted the academic study of the fraternal organization of Freemasonry. He was a member of the Association of American Geographers, the American Historical Association, The John Dewey Society, and the Academic Society for Research into Freemasonry and Fraternalism. John Slifko volunteered for The Midnight Mission, which takes the homeless off of Skid Row and rehabilitates them into self-sufficient members of society. He contributed to the UCLA Foundation’s endowment, supporting the educational endeavors of the university. John Slifko was an active stock trader from 2000 to 2006, investing in green technologies.
In his spare time, he pursued the study of geographical mapping and exploration, as well as archeaoastronomy, the study of how past cultures understood the sky. He also participated in Healthy City, a California information portal that helps residents connect to health and social services and community data.

He was active in the quest to bring the Modern or French Rite to North America in recent years and instrumental in the work to bring about the foundation of the Higher Orders of Wisdom in North America and the Caribbean. It was in fact at his prompting that I chose to create the Hedge Mason Blog. He was active in the foundation of and the promotion of Project Awe, (Aesthetics of Western Esotericism) - Where Art meets Magic...

I will update this message with funeral service information when I receive it. John's family urges those who wish to do something in his memory to make donations to The Hirsberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.

My heart goes out to all of the family and friends of these three outstanding brethren, and all I can offer in return for their contributions to my Masonic life are my fervent prayers and deepest condolences.

Their columns have been broken, and their Brethren mourn.

Requiescat in pace.

2 comments:

  1. John Slifko was a unique person-- he was a sort of one man fireworks, always exploding with ideas, starting projects, promising to get to dozens of topics that he felt needed exploring. He fortunately got his doctorate before illiness claimed him. A certain passion of excitement will now be missing from the web.

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