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Friday, April 10, 2009

Tornado Destroys Arkansas Lodge: Kills OES Member

(AP Photo)

Dallas Lodge No. 128 in Mena, Arkansas, was destroyed yesterday after a tornado struck the building at about 8PM. One person was killed at the lodge, and at least two others in the mountain town. Thirty others were injured in the area. Homes were flattened, and the Mena courthouse was destroyed. Thousands remain without power today, and the national Guard is going door to door to check on residents.

According to KTHV-11 in Little Rock,

The Mena tornado's destruction hit Line Street the hardest. At the Dallas Masonic Lodge, the Order of the Eastern Star was having a meeting Thursday night when the storm came through. The 19 people inside only heard the tornado siren sound and say they had no time to take cover when the storm hit.

Thurman Allen, 79, of Mena said a woman at the meeting was killed when the roof of the building fell in. He said rescuers had to cut the roof away to recover her body.

Authorities have not released names of the dead.

Allen said that as the tornado hit the lodge, debris hit him in the head and knocked him to the ground. His wife, sitting nearby in a chair, was thrown to the floor.

The storm knocked over the lodge's cinder block wall, bringing down wooden roof joists, insulation and shingles over the people gathered for the meeting.

Fred Key, 37, of Mena said several people were injured as the winds blew through the hall. He said the winds took the shoes of some of the members. Key says rescuers arrived as quickly as they could but were blocked by pine trees that fell across roads in the area.

No word yet today on the name of the OES member who was killed.

Dallas Lodge in Mena was the mother lodge of Norris Goff and Chester Lauck—long forgotten today, but better known in the 1930s as the comedy team of "Lum and Abner," one of the most popular radio shows on the air between 1932 and 1954.


According to the 40/29 TV website, the three people killed in Mena were:

• Anna True Cress, 84, killed at the town's Masonic Lodge, where she was attending a meeting of the Order of the Eastern Star.
• Judy Lobner, 47, who died in her daughter's home. Myhand said Lobner's daughter was outside the home when the tornado hit, but survived.
• Albert Shaw, 61, who died when his two-story home was hit by the storm and collapsed.

The twice-monthly meeting of the Mena's chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star had been going on uninterrupted, the 19 people inside only faintly hearing the sirens through the building's cinderblock walls.
Attendee Thurman Allen said they were ready to get out of the building when the twister hit. The storm tore down the Masonic hall's walls, collapsing the roof on one woman, Anna True Cress, killing her.
The winds pulled the shoes off some women who were at the meeting.


  1. My family built this lodge, and the men in my family have served as Masters and Officers of the lodge in Mena since its inception. My aunt is an OES member, but she did not go to the meeting. However, her friend (whom I believe she said was "Mrs. Kress") was the one who was killed in the lodge by the ceiling. She was married to the town's Vet, and her son is good friends with my cousin. In any case, it is very distressing what has happened to Mena, as most of the old historical buildings (including the homes that both of my grandparents were born in) have been destroyed. The courthouse and the lodge have reportedly both lost paper records in this tragedy.

  2. I am very sorry for the loss suffered by the Brother posting as MobileEndUser, his family, and the members of the Lodge and OES chapter in Mena, and their families. I shall pray for all of these people, and I am sure that many of the brethren who silently read this page will do the same. (Thank you, Chris, for letting us know about this. We've all heard about the tornado, but not the details.)

  3. Deepest condolences on behalf of the officers and members of Oasis Lodge #41 F&AM in Las Vegas, NV.

  4. Scimitar Shrine Temple in Little Rock is collecting donations for the town of Mena. Is anyone aware of a collection being taken to rebuild the Dallas Masonic Building which was destroyed, or a collection for Dallas Lodge #128 or Mena Chapter #243? I want to help.

  5. I'm calling the GL of Arkansas, the OES office in Washington and the Masonic Service Association on Monday to see if anything has officially been set up for them. Obviously it would be better if there was one place to go to to send offers of help, instead of a patchwork quilt of us duplicating the efforts. I'll post what I find out Monday. Do you have contact information for anyone at Scimitar Shrine? If so, I can touch base with them and see what they're doing.

  6. Quoted from the KTHV website:

    If you're in Little Rock and surrounding areas and want to help tornado victims in Mena here's your chance. A Shriners group on S. University will be taking up donations.


    Scimitar Shriners will open its doors as a depot for donated goods for the citizens of Mena, who were struck by the tornado Thursday night.

    Noble Tony Francis is the contact at the Shrine Center, which is located off of I-30 and S. University on the service road in Little Rock. The number to the office is 565-5992.

    Mena will need non-perishable food, water, and so forth. Arkansans can bring those items to the Scimitar Shriners Friday until 7 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

  7. we are currently in the process of setting up a webpage for Dallas Lodge#128. I will come back and post the url as soon as it is ready. we really appreciate the brotherhood shown from members worldwide. It really speaks well of the brotherhood when a tragedy such as this generates such an outpouring of support and well wishes.

    thanks again for brotherly support.

    Yours Masonically:
    Ed - Senior Warden
    Dallas Lodge #128
    PO box 163
    Mena, AR 71953


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