Legendary country music guitarist, comedian, and Freemason, Brother Roy Linwood Clark, passed to the Celestial Lodge today at the age of 85, due to complications from pneumonia at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
An unsurpassed virtuoso guitarist, Clark was perhaps most famous for his role as either host or co-host of the syndicated country comedy and variety television program 'Hee Haw' for the duration of its entire 24-year run.
Clark played the guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and other instruments. In the course of his long career, he earned seven CMA Awards over his decades-long career, including the Entertainer of the Year Award in 1973. His version of “Alabama Jubilee” earned him a Grammy in 1982. Brother Roy was also a regular performer with the Grand Ole Opry. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
Roy Clark was made a Mason "at sight" by the Grand Master of Oklahoma on December 9, 1987. Afterwards, Roy affiliated with Jenks Lodge No. 497 in suburban Jenks, Oklahoma as a "perpetual member." He subsequently sought additional Masonic light on his own, pursuing the Scottish Rite, York Rite, and Shrine. Illustrious Clark was elevated to the 32º in the Scottish Rite Valley of Tulsa in 1988, invested a Knight Commander of the Court of Honor in 1997, and coroneted an Inspector General Honorary 33º in 2001. In the York Rite, he was exalted in Tulsa Chapter No. 52, Royal Arch Masons, greeted in Tulsa Council No. 22, Cryptic Masons, and knighted in Trinity Commandery No. 20, Knights Templar, all in 1990. Akdar Temple, Shriners International, created him a Noble in 1988, and he also belonged to the Royal Order of Jesters.
During a fund raiser in Cleveland, Ohio many years ago, Clark praised the fraternity:
"I know of no other organization where you have a friend all over the world. It gives you peace of mind, especially traveling as much as we do."
"It was brought home to us last month when we were on tour in Regina, Saskatchewan," he explained. "Our guitar player, Frank Sandusky, had a blood vessel suddenly rupture in his neck, was rushed to the hospital, and the doctor's report was grave. When local brethren found out that he was a Mason they sent for his wife. They took her in, saw that she got back and forth to the hospital, and saw to her needs. It didn't cost her anything, and made an unpleasant situation more bearable — and that is what Masonry is all about. Frank is with us today, as my 'right arm' in the band and plays a lot of the beautiful harmony you'll hear."
And then there's always the classic 'Dueling Banjos' with Buck Trent on Hee Haw:
The world will not soon see anyone quite like Roy Clark again, and it will be a quieter and more barren place without him.
His column is broken and his brethren mourn.
Requiescat in pace.
(Many thanks to Brother Mark Wright for updated information about Brother Roy Clark's Masonic record.)