You would never know it was nearly October when you go outside! Wichita Falls has had a heat wave the past few days, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any cooler. Lots of activity in Maskat Shrine in October, but there are still two weeks of September right now. This weekend was Sporting Clays at North Texas Field and Stream; next weekend the Provost Guard competes in El Paso; and the last weekend is the Golf Unit Christmas Party in Granbury. Hope the heat doesn’t hold! I am ready to be cooler, even though the pool is still quite pleasant!!
Of course, you would have to be completely disconnected to not know our South Texas counties were ravaged by a monster hurricane [Harvey] early in September, and then the next week, Florida, Key West, and many island areas were decimated by a second storm [Irma.]
Although there were billions of dollars in property destroyed and quite a few deaths, our Hospitals in Houston, Galveston, and Tampa did not receive much damage at all! All three were open with a skeleton crew for a few days, but began treating patients within days of impact. Our hearts and prayers go out to those who lost everything, but I have faith the devastated areas will be restored, and life will continue in spite of the problems. I have seen more unity and less divisiveness in the face of calamity than I have since 9-11. Americans will help each other recover. That’s what we do!
Activities for October include Stated Meeting on October 10, which is a Ladies Night. We decided it should be Ladies Night for two reasons: Dead Cow Chairman Scott McNeely wants the Ladies to have an opportunity to sign up to work the Dead Cow event, and we always give Nobles who have reached a Milestone a pin on that night. Potentate Gainer suggested we should do that in open session, and all agreed. If Conner has not notified you and you think you are due a pin, call the Office at 766-4511. The Dead Cow Cook-Off and Chili Cook-Off are on October 13-14, which is the weekend following Stated Meeting, at the Hatton Road Land.
Jennifer and I will be out of town the last week of October and most of the first week of November to attend the Shriner’s Open Golf Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. We did it last year, because Dr. Steve Dryden [Maskat’s Representative to Galveston Hospital] told us about it. We went and we were hooked! Wish us luck, travel mercies, and financial Blessings on our Hospitals! As Shriners, Shriners Hospitals for Children belong to us. I am Proud to be an Owner!
I do not do this very often, but I was shocked at the number of deaths we sustained this summer. We lost seven Nobles to the Black Camel, and as Recorder, I read a list of these names: Dan C. Butler, Gordon Bird, William Guptill, David L. Hale, Nelson Tubbs, Dewey Horton, Dr. Eldo Jones, and Richard Moore. I knew them all, four of them as special friends in different ways. I read right through the list, my voice never failed me, but I shed a tear for myself and for our great Fraternity as I drove home, as I do right now as I tell you this: Gordon Bird, because he was a wonderful hard-working Mason and Shriner; Nelson Tubbs, because I had his son Nathaniel in band; David Hale because we played in the Drum Corps together back in the 70s, 80s, and 90s; Richard Moore, because we developed a friendship due to a mutual love for music, red wine, and children. The day after Richard died, he would have turned 57, but Lou Gehrig’s disease cut his life much too short. So I mourn for our loss, and my personal loss of precious Shrine friends.
Thanks for being a Shriner, Gentlemen, and thank you Ladies for everything you do to help our cause!
For the Children,
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder
Today is the first day of school for Wichita Falls students, which is important to them. But if you are among the Shriners who are going to Laughlin for the Potentate’s Trip, you have something more pressing. Don’t forget your swimsuit! If you have kids heading out the door, you hope they are starting a great year. But you have to find your swimsuit if you are going to Laughlin. And don’t forget money.
Hope you have had a great summer. The Oil Bowl was a financial success for Houston and Galveston Hospitals and a lot of fun and work for local Shriners. All profits from that endeavor are split evenly between our two Texas Shrine Hospitals, and all we keep are the memories. It was an exciting football game, and our Hospitals gained almost $19,000. Thank you for helping and buying your tickets!
At Imperial, our newly elected Imperial Potentate Gary Bergenske hit the ground running with a new Membership initiative called “I AM COMMITTED TO MEMBERSHIP NOW, ARE YOU?” I know it sounds and looks a little different, but I think it is going to be a good program. We need members at Maskat, Nobles. We have not initiated any new members in 2017, and we have Members die every Month. We voted to raise our local dues by twenty dollars a year in July because our local Shrine needs money to meet our expenses. I urge you to support Imperial Potentate Bergenske’s new program. We all need to think Membership!
This program is web based, and Potentate Gainer mentioned it in his Message in July, so this is a follow up. To refer a new member, go online to https://webfez.shrinenet.org/referral and give the name and email address of the new prospective Shriner. He will receive a few emails letting him know he has been referred by a Maskat member. You will need your member number (on your card) and his email address. I had a little trouble with the first guy I referred. I did not know his Blue Lodge name. Then after I got that, they would not take it, because someone else had already referred him! But it works, and could be a great Membership Tool. I urge you to participate in this program! Please, we need members!!
I mentioned in one of my articles that the real highlight of my trip to Houston for the Board of Governors Meetings each month is the Patient of the Month Award. The kid who made it worthwhile this month is five years old and about 30 inches tall. Lower legs donated by Shriners. Dr. Barnes explained he had been on his feet for only the last three weeks in his whole life. He came in on a walker, but set it aside to show us he can take a few steps without it! I wish you could have seen the smile on his face! His therapist and his Mom and Dad were there, and they were crying along with the grown men in the room. Thank you, Maskat, for placing me in a position to witness one of God’s miracles every month. For those of you who have never been to one of our Hospitals, I urge you to put it on your bucket list. You owe it to yourself and our kids. You will not regret it.
Thanks for being a Shriner, Gentlemen, and thank you Ladies for keeping us in line!
For the Children,
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder
I have some important material to present in my article this month, but what is happening at Maskat Temple is equally important! In June, we had the Oil Bowl, and reaped a profit for our Houston and Galveston Hospitals nearly equal to the $10,000 each we raised in 2016! The books are not closed, and I know some of us would like to purchase our Noble Tickets and have not done so thus far. So you still have an opportunity to contribute to our Philanthropy. Remember, all contributions to the Oil Bowl are income tax deductible. If you have lost your paperwork, call the Maskat Office at 940-766-4511.
The next week we journeyed to Waco for TSA State Convention. The Provost Guard brought home some hardware, and the CONVEE CADILLACS did us proud once again. We also had some clowns enter the competition, but I have not heard the results. We have a new category for competition, Nobles. We can now start a Brewing Unit for home brew fans! See Noble Clint Lee for more information.
Your Imperial Representatives [three of us] recently returned from the Annual Convention of Shriners International, held this year in beautiful Daytona Beach, Florida! It was a great Convention at a wonderful location, and the Provost Guard competed in the first ever Imperial Pistol match, capturing first and second place in different categories. Noble Tim Bradberry won first place in the Combat Pistol Match, D Team placed 2nd and our A Team got a first place, so we made a great showing. Noble Jerry and his Lady Beverly generously hosted the Provost Guard competitors for the week. Thanks Jerry and Beverly for your contribution to the team. And, Clowns Billy Neimeyer Junior and Senior competed and placed in their respective competitions. So in addition to Potentate Gainer, Chief Rabban Calvin Carlton and me, we had some Clowns and Provost Guard go and win trophies for themselves and Maskat!
We had a lot of business items on the agenda, some of which affect all Temples; bylaws changes which should improve our fraternity financially. I think it is important to note that our Fraternity is growing! We placed two additional temples under dispensation, and Shriners International actually enjoyed a growth in members since last year. We really need to work on local membership, Nobles!
As always, the highlight was the public relations presentation on Wednesday afternoon, where we met the newest patient ambassadors. 2017-18 Ambassadors are Isabella Rose and Emily Mellish. These young ladies make you proud to be a part of this great fraternity. Traditionally, the two Patient Ambassadors are chosen from our Shriners Hospitals for Children and introduced to the Representatives at the annual convention. It is always a heart-rending, emotional experience to see these kids in person and hear the stories of how they became Shriner Kids and how they have overcome their obstacles to lead fulfilling lives with the help of Shriners like you and me. We will share these videos with the membership when we have the opportunity, because they help us remember that the Shriners Hospital System identifies the singular mission of our great Fraternity: to make a difference in the life of a child.
Thanks for being a Shriner and a Mason, and be Proud of your involvement!
John Tunnell, PP Recorder
Largely due to the efforts of David Potter and his stalwarts, the Onion Sales are in the very last stages! Thanks to a huge volunteer effort, and storage provided by Provost Guard, the Vidalias were sent to new homes to be enjoyed by folks from Wichita Falls and truly all over the state of Texas. The few we have remaining are being sold as this article is being penned. Thanks for your efforts. As was the case last year, I was out of town much of the time. I did manage to go to Rotary Club with P.P. Bob Hampton and Potentate Jeff Gainer and witness his presentation of Oil Bowl and Shriners Hospitals History. He played a video of one of Houston Hospital’s success stories. The video of Clint Crane was a perfect conclusion to a great presentation. Thanks to Bob Hampton for a delicious meal and a superb program.
The month of June has two major Shrine activities: The Oil Bowl Game on June 10th and the TSA Convention the very next week, June 14-17. The proceeds from the Oil Bowl Game and all related activities go to support the Galveston and Houston Shriners Hospitals for Children. We do this strictly to benefit the Children in our Shriners Hospitals, and it is the only activity we have on schedule this year solely for their benefit. Needless to say, we as Shriners should support this game with our attendance and participation. Thanks to Oil Bowl Chairman Yoshi Fukasawa, we managed to raise $10,000 for each Hospital last year! A Total of a bit more $20,000 was raised! BUT THAT WAS LAST YEAR!!! Please buy your tickets, support and attend the game and wear your Fez THIS YEAR. The precious children in our Shriners Hospitals depend on our support. Without Shriners [that’s us] our Hospitals would soon be history. Stated Meeting is June 13, the day before many of us leave for Waco and TSA Convention.
That is a lot to cram into the first two full weekends, and thankfully, we have a couple weeks afterwards to regroup! I want all Shriners and their Ladies to understand that anyone can refer a patient to our Hospitals, with or without a doctor’s diagnosis. Doctors do account for many patient referrals, but so do people just like us! If a parent approaches you, get the child’s name, condition, and parent’s permission, and call our toll free number: 800-237-5055. You may have the opportunity to make a huge difference in the life of a deserving child, and there is no better feeling than that!
The Shriners International Convention is the week of July 9-15 in Daytona Beach, Florida! The first time Daytona has ever hosted a Shrine Convention, and they are going all out to host a great convention. Jerry Sloan and members of the Provost Guard are going to compete and pull the Smoking Gun in the Parade! Should make for a fun convention!
Nobles, Thanks for being a Shriner and Ladies, thank you for supporting our efforts.
For the Children,
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder
Nobles and Ladies, April is just a little over halfway done, and May’s article is being penned right now. I did our taxes earlier in the month, but Kendyl couldn’t find her W4 from a summer job so I promptly forgot until she emailed it to me yesterday! Been hassling with that early this morning, and just got finished and in the mail. Been putting this article on the back burner until the tax day dust settled.
We are taking presales for Vidalia Onions in the Maskat Office, ten dollars for a ten pound bag. This is a fundraiser we do to keep our doors open, so contributions are not tax deductible. But the onions are well worth the price. They are so sweet you can eat them like an apple! They will arrive from the fields around Vidalia, Georgia in the first week of May. Call Maskat at 940-766-4511. Another Maskat project, the Annual Golf Tournament, will be held on this Friday, April 21. Many local golfers join us for this event. It is at River Creek this year, and Chairman Gordy Antill has planned a great event. Hope the weather cooperates.
At the Board of Governor’s Meeting in Houston this month, I took a lot of inspiration home from our Patient of the Month Award. I do wish you could have seen it. This month featured two brothers from Mexico, who had an initial diagnosis there of Cerebral Palsy. Upon further evaluation, Dr. Barnes determined the original diagnosis was in error, but at ages 12 and 13, after living with the diagnosis since birth, they are behind developmentally. With intense therapy to bring back unused muscle structures and some minor surgery, they are both walking with walkers, which is a vast improvement over crawling everywhere as they had to do previously. They are both very intelligent, and expressed their gratitude to Shriners.
To refresh your memory, if an individual wants to give money to Houston Shriners Hospital for Children [SHC], you can designate how you want it spent. I usually suggest “for Patient Services.” Most individual gifts are made to that fund because it goes directly to patient care.
Two more things about the Hospitals. If you want to refer a patient to either Galveston or Houston, you can do it! You do not have to be a Shriner–we always have referrals from physicians, parents, and people like you. The point is, don’t hesitate to get involved! Sometimes you can help make the difference in a child’s life by doing something. The other thing is our Oil Bowl Football Game. This is our Major Temple Fundraiser for the Hospitals, half to Galveston, half to Houston. Donations to the Oil Bowl Game are strictly for the Hospitals and therefore tax deductible. It will be held June 10th at Memorial Stadium. Hope to see you there! If the game is a financial success, our children will benefit! In 2016, the game was highly successful! We are planning ahead to try to make 2017 even better. You can do your part by purchasing your tickets whether you can attend the game or not. We need people in the stands to make this effort a financial success!
This year, Imperial Shrine Convention will be held in Daytona Beach, Florida, July 9-13. Several Provost Guard Members are going to compete with Provost Guard pistol teams from other Temples. Daytona Beach is hosting its first Imperial Shrine Convention. Our Provost Guard will be competing in Imperial for the first time and will have the “Smoking Gun” in the Imperial parade!
I will close with this: Thanks for being a Shriner, Nobles. And Ladies, thanks for supporting our efforts.
For the Children
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder
Hope we have a successful Dinner Theatre on April 1, which is April Fools’ Day! The Rider High School Drama Department has agreed to share their UIL One-Act Play for this year with us. I understand they are presenting it in competition sometime the week before they do it for us. Good luck, Rider Drama Department as you present Anatomy of Gray. Of course, by the time you read this, it will likely have taken place already. Really looking forward to it. The price is $20.00 for each ticket. I Hope you all will be able to join us!
We do have some activities worthy of note in April besides the Dinner Theatre. The Clowns will host our children’s Easter Egg Hunt on April 15, which is the day before Easter. All kids, Nobles, and families are welcome, hot dogs at noon, Easter Egg Hunt at 1:00pm. And don’t forget our Annual Golf Tournament at River Creek, which is the next Friday, April 21. This is a great event for Maskat, because it is one of our major Temple fundraisers. If you do not play golf, volunteer to work the event. We always need people to work registration and other duties. You get to see your friends and ensure that the tournament functions smoothly.
We have a trio of major events this summer. Of course, we have TSA in Waco and the Oil Bowl on back to back weekends, as always. Then we have the Shrine Imperial Convention starting on July 9 in Daytona Beach. I will talk about the Imperial Convention first. It is a long way from Wichita Falls, on the East side of Florida. Ordinarily we do not have many Nobles at an Imperial when it’s so far away, but our Provost Guard is going to go, compete, and join the parade with the Smoking Gun! Come join us at Daytona Beach, July 9-13!
I purposely jumped ahead to Imperial because it seemed appropriate, but we have our Vidalia Onion Sales slated to begin the week of May 1. You can help with this event and support it by buying the sweetest onions in the world. Last year, Jennifer and I bought 50 pounds, wrapped them individually and put them in the cellar. Not cold, but cool and dry. We cleaned and ate the last one in September. Two went bad, but when you separate them like that, the damage does not travel like it does in the bag.
Then moving on to June, we have TSA in Waco June 15-17. At the April Meeting, we will be pushing that event, trying to get everyone registered who wants to go. Hope you will join us! The Oil Bowl is the Saturday before TSA on June 10. It is oldest continuous high school senior football game in the Shrine. It is our only Hospital benefit. Last year, thanks to the efforts of our Nobility and Ladies, it was the best we have done in recent years. If you worked it last year, please join us again in 2017! We need you and all the volunteers we can find.
I feel I must address the fact that we have already had several Nobles expire this year, and we are just halfway through the third month. This would be a great time to recruit some new Nobles. All of us know a few guys who would be great Shriners. Problem is, most of my friends are already great Shriners. Hope you Nobles younger than “three score and twelve” have some good prospective members!
I got to meet Alec, our Patient Ambassador, at the Shriners Hospital Baseball Classic the first weekend in March. He is as adorable in person as he is in our Hospital Commercials! I know I can’t seem to quit talking about our hospital system. But I can’t apologize for that! Most of you know what conditions we treat, but if you know of a child who may qualify, please call the office. If we can help a child, we want to. I am going to mention again, if you would like to go to Las Vegas and volunteer for the Hospital Benefit Golf Tournament the first week of November, see or call me or Dr. Steve Dryden, the Galveston Hospital Rep, for more details. And by the way, thank you and yours for being a part of the Shrine Family.
For the Children
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder
Hope you are ready for March! As we prepare to depart for Shreveport and the OG Trip tomorrow, I am committed to the task of producing a column for the month of March, which seems pretty far in the distant future at the present time.
We had a little different approach to the problem of Membership at the recent TSA Divan Midwinter. We produced and shared mission and vision statements with the other twelve Texas Temples. They were all strikingly similar, thematically, even though we worked independently with ideas about our own Temples. The moderator, from Aladdin Temple, insisted this approach would yield Membership Gains, because a shared mission and vision puts the Nobility on the same page. We are working on one to share with the Nobility. More on this later, but we are excited about the prospect.
We lost three members in January to the Black Camel, and a good friend, Noble Ralph Gould, passed away on February 10. All this to report we have lost four Nobles thus far and have not added a member to the roster. If you know a Mason who should be a Shriner, please encourage him to join! The same applies to members who left us for one reason or another. Tell them we would love to see them back on board.
We start the Month of March with IHOP Pancake Day in Texas on March 7. This is the largest one day Shrine Hospital Fund Raiser in terms of revenue collected. So it is extremely important to our Hospitals. Nobles, if you have not signed for a two hour shift, you should do so if you can! So, everybody go eat pancakes at IHOP for free and leave a donation at the door for Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. Everybody wins! Maskat Temple has their March Meeting on the 14th, so you will not hear much more about this important event. I will be in Houston on March 2-5 for the SHC College Baseball Classic and of course, the Board of Governors Meeting. Tickets are available, see me for details.
That weekend is also Clown Midwinter in San Antonio, and Noble Clint Lee is running for second Vice President. I have been told the Directors Staff has their Midwinter that same weekend! The Provost Guard has their Midwinter March 24-25 in Corpus Christi. That’s the same weekend as the Nile Installation here at Maskat Temple. Hard to find a time when conflicts don’t arise! Almost as if they are planned.
Thanks for being a Shriner, Nobles, and Ladies, thanks for supporting our efforts.
For the Children,
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder
Happy Valentine’s Day, among other events we are happy to observe in February if we are married or have kids! February is always short, and if you are a Shriner, pretty busy. We are having another Ladies Night on Valentine’s Day! Pretty much the same format we had on Installation Night in January. We will have separate meetings at 6:30pm, and then we go to refreshment. During and after the meal, we just enjoy each others company
Your Divan will be in San Antonio February 2-4, returning home Saturday just in time for the Super Bowl Party on Sunday! The Divan Midwinter seems to always be Thursday through Saturday just before the Super Bowl. February 14th is Valentine’s Day. Have your sweetheart take you to Maskat Temple for fun, food and fellowship!
The long awaited O.G. Trip to Shreveport Hospital is February 16-19. Lady Bree Gainer is planning a dinner and drinks outing on February 18 to have something fun for the Ladies while we are “working” to have an OG Trip. You need to contact Conner in the Office to sign up. It is a STAG trip to Margaritaville Hotel and Casino in Bossier City; and the bus ride, snacks and libations cost $75.00. New Nobles first trip is free! Well, you do have to pay for your room and gambling, but it’s still a good deal! It’s always a lot of fun, and we tour the Hospital in Shreveport on Friday. Gives everyone a chance to see what the Shrine supports and makes you even prouder to be a Shriner.
As a Proud Houston Hospital Representative, I want to thank you for supporting our Hospitals. And accolades to our Clowns, who donated $500.00 with the help of our Nobility, to make it possible for a deserving child to attend Camp Love Without Limits! As always, a big thank you for being a Shriner, and Thanks to our Ladies for supporting our efforts!
Every Month, Houston Hospital honors a Patient of the Month at our Board Meetings. They are always a blessing for us no matter how grim the prognosis, because they always view life as precious and see themselves as valuable people. Just like other kids! January’s Honoree was a three year old boy with Cerebral Palsy who will probably never walk, but he is learning life skills while he is undergoing physical therapy for a third back surgery. He is a bright, happy little boy and will be a patient here until he is 18-21. But he faces his future with a self-confidence that inspires all of us. It is the heart of why we are Shriners and Shrine Ladies.
For The Kids,
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder
FIRST OF ALL, Happy New Year and welcome to 2017! Bruce and Janna have had a wonderful year and now it’s time for a new Potentate and First Lady. Jeff Gainer will be installed as Illustrious Potentate of Maskat Temple at Stated Meeting on January 10, 2017. The meeting time will be changed, we will have our regular tiled Stated Meeting at 6:30pm, then bring the Ladies in for the meal, followed by the Installation of Officers and a reception.
We had Officer Elections at Stated Meeting in December, and the slate looks a little different this year. Chief Rabban Jeff Gainer was elected to replace Illustrious Potentate Bruce Urban, the outgoing Potentate. Calvin Carlton became Chief Rabban, Steve Harris was elected Assistant Rabban, Bing Miller was elected High Priest and Prophet, and Kenny Lemons was elected Oriental Guide. P.P. Mark Reed was elected Treasurer, and P.P. John Tunnell will remain Recorder, by vote of the Nobility. P.P. Charles Oldham was reelected to another two year term on the Financial Advisory Board. P.P. Greg Stockton, who stepped down as Treasurer, was also elected to a two year term. P.P. Bob Hamblin and Noble Bill Yates have one more year remaining on their terms on the Financial Advisory Board.
The Potentate’s Ball, Honoring Potentate Jeff Gainer and his Lady Bree, is scheduled for Saturday January 28th. Then, your Divan will be gone to San Antonio the first weekend of February for TSA Midwinter, returning just in time for the Super Bowl Party on Sunday, February 5th. Divan /Units Council will meet on Wednesday, February 8th, and Stated Meeting is February 14th. Don’t forget to sign up for the O.G. Trip which is Thursday, February 16-19 in Shreveport, Louisiana. We will tour the Shriners Hospital there Friday, and O.G. Kenny Lemons will serve everyone on the bus libations and sandwiches all the way to Shreveport and back!
Jennifer and I attended the Christmas Tree Lighting at Shriners Hospital For Children in Houston on Friday, December 2, followed by full Board Meeting Saturday Morning and Christmas Party that night. In addition to our regular patients at the tree lighting ceremony, we had a group of seven adopted siblings who had to be removed from their adoptive parents by CPS due to malnutrition and mistreatment. They were originally sent to Texas Children’s Hospital to be examined, found to be medically sound, and had to be placed somewhere else. Their Hospital Administrator called our Hospital and we took them temporarily because they had no place to go on such short notice. Our Administrator made the decision to take them in because “that’s what we do.” The children have since been placed in foster home settings, but it is a great story of compassion. Thought I would share it with you.
Thanks for being Shriners, Gentlemen, and thank you Ladies for helping us be better men and Shriners!
For the Children,
John Tunnell, P.P. Recorder