Today was a very somber day indeed. It was one where I said goodbye to a dear friend, Brother and mentor.
The very first Lodge I visited after being initiated into Freemasonry, 11 years ago, was Phoenix Lodge. My Father-in-law, Keith, (and my proposer) was a long standing visitor of Phoenix and had become very good friends with the Brethren there. Whilst being introduced to the various Brethren, I met an extraordinary man that evening. An average sized man who projected a presence that seemed to attract the attention of all the Brethren. With a kind friendly face, silver hair, and welcoming demeanour, he walked to me and introduced himself. Little did I know then, the role Worshipful Brother John Malone would play in my Masonic journey.
Every month from then on, I visited Phoenix Lodge, and eventually had the honour of being made a Star Boarder. Being a close friend of Keith’s, he naturally took over as my mentor and guide in Masonry when Keith passed on, and stood by my side through my Second Degree and becoming a Master Mason. The following few years went by very fast, with John always being around, offering words of wisdom and advice, both from a Masonic perspective as well as a personal one.
Now, when a Mason is installed as the Worshipful Master of his Lodge, he would generally have three masons who played an important role in his life, to present the 3 respective Working Tools. When I asked John to present the 3rd Degree Working Tools, he was thrilled and immediately agreed to do so.
Hearing the news of John’s death, hit me very hard. There are very few people that have played such an important role in my life, and John was one of them.
His funeral was surreal, with a large contingent of Masons all expressing their grief, and recalling their respective memories of John. And every single one, including myself, all agree on his most dominating quality.
John was a true gentleman! No matter what was happening in his life at the time, he stood upright, always smiled and shook the hand of everyone he met, and offered anecdotes of advice for every situation. John shows the ultimate respect for everyone he met, never had a negative word to say of anyone, and even in the moments before Phoenix Lodge shut its doors in South Africa, and their charter moved to Mauritius, he remained positive for his Brethren.
I recall one time I visited him in ICU, after being knocked of his motorbike, he just smiled at me, laughed at himself and proceeded to help me with my Masonic workings. To me, I’ve always had the impression John’s sole purpose in life was to project a positive image to others, to uplift his fellow man.
So today, I said goodbye to a gentleman, scholar, friend and Brother, and wished him well on his journey to the Grand Lodge above. Masonry, and my world, will not be the same.
I came across a beautiful poem, which I feel is fitting to share
By Brother David Barker(1924)
Brethren of our mystic order,
Bound together by a tie,
Olden, sacred and enduring,
Come and see a Craftsman die.
Watch like angels round my pillow,
Till the ransomed spirit flies
To its Excellent Grand Master,
In His Lodge above the skies.
Oft we’ve met upon the Level,
Let us part upon the Square —
Perfect Ashlers in the temple,
May we meet together there.
Let no stranger’s hand entomb me
Underneath the tufted sod,
None except a brother Mason
Should consign my dust to God.
Heave no formal sigh of sorrow
O’er the ashes of the dead,
Only plant the priceless symbol,
Freshly blooming at my head.
When death’s gavel sound shall call you
Off from Labor unto rest,
May you, Craftsmen, find Refreshment
In the mansions of the blest.