My friend and Brother, WB Darren Jason Klem passed away on Sunday.
That's a damned difficult sentence to type.
Darren came to Broad Ripple Lodge when we were really struggling, and God truly smiled on us when he arrived. He had just moved to Indianapolis for his job at Rolls Royce, but he had first become a Mason in Bayonne, New Jersey at Menorah Lodge 249, which had just merged in a Masonic stew of consolidations into Peninsula Lodge 99. He was also a member of a very special Texas lodge, Tranquility 2000. So, Darren was already extraordinarily active and enthusiastic about the fraternity.
Once here, Darren also became a member of our unique Bartimaeus Lodge UD, a special purpose lodge that exists solely to confer the Masonic degrees on candidates with physical handicaps or challenges that require extra care. That was the kind of man he was, who sought out ways to help.
Darren became Master of Broad Ripple 643, and brought great leadership and fun to the position. He also became an active member of Lodge Vitruvian 767, and was moving through the officers chairs there, as well.
As part of his job, he had to travel extensively, to Europe, and often to Britain. When traveling, he would try to make time to seek out and visit a lodge in whatever part of the countryside he was in, and his experiences were unique. He had a deep voice and a hilarious sense of fun, and he embodied that rare combination of commanding respect, admiration, love, and humor, in one unassuming package. He rarely raised that voice, and yet others always seemed to be drawn toward his comments or decisions naturally. He wasn't always the first guy a stranger might gravitate to in a room, but Darren was very often the last one he was still talking to when they shut out the lights and locked the door.
After he served as Master of Broad Ripple, he eventually took the Secretary's chair over from Nathan Brindle when he moved on, and Darren held that position for many years. It was cancer that forced him out of that seat at last in November, and only then, reluctantly - actually in mid-meeting.
He and I were both struck with nearly the identical type of cancer, in almost precisely the same spot, within just a few months of each other six years ago. That's a club I was not happy to share membership with him in. But whereas mine was eventually beaten surgically, chemically, and radiologically, Darren's was not. Time and again, he would pull though successfully, only for the damned horrid tentacles of it to cling on in secret and reappear again in months or a year, and the miserable process would begin all over again.
Darren has a beautiful, loving wife, and of course my heart goes out to Tabitha, who has been by his side as this struck him again and again. She has been through her own hell that has been every bit as terrible in its own way as his. But he also has two young daughters. And there's no reason on God's Earth I can think of right this very moment to make sense of why the science worked and I lived, and why my friend, her husband, their father, did not.
UPDATE 2/3/17 2:55PM NOTE CHANGES:
(Obituary posted this morning HERE.)
Worshipful Brother Darren Klem's Masonic Memorial Service will be this Friday around 7:30pm. at Flanner and Buchanan in Broad Ripple. Please arrive at 7:30pm to prepare and make ready.
Flanner and Buchannan - Broad Ripple
1305 Broad Ripple Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46220
WB Klem made many arrangements before his death, and has asked that Lodge Vitruvian and our own Lodge be participants in the service.
We have also been invited by the family to attend the Catholic Service at St. Joan of Arc at 4217 Central Avenue on Saturday 2/4/2017 at 10am. as well as the burial at St. Malachy West Cemetery in Pittsburo, Indiana following the Saturday service and Memorial Lunch at St. Malachy Catholic Church (9833 E County Road 750 N, Brownsburg, IN 46112) following the burial.
Please direct any questions regarding this to me and I will do my best to answer them.
Fraternally and with a heavy heart,
Doug Eckhart, PM
Worshipful Master BR Lodge #643
May it be his portion to hear from Him who sitteth as Judge Supreme: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord”.
My friend Jay Hochberg knew Darren many years before I did from his days in New Jersey, and has written his own very personal memories of Darren on his Magpie Mason blog site HERE. Thanks, Jay.