Reinstatement of the North Star Lodge

Mark Williamson and a couple of friends were searching for an avenue to help their community of Larimore, N.D., better.  They found it on Towner Avenue.

The semi-dormant Masonic Lodge was the answer to their hopes of making a difference for the community. After research on becoming a Mason and running a Masonic Lodge, Williamson, Phil Landis and Dave Rustebakke decided to bring back North Star Lodge 16 in the city to full-scale operation.

Not even a decade has passed since the Larimore lodge became fully active. The span was long enough for Williamson to make a big mark in the organization. On June 17 in Medora, he was installed as the state of North Dakota’s Grand Master.

He is the group’s top officer in the state. Williamson downplayed his quick rise.

“It’s very humbling and a great honor,” Williamson said. “Plus, I was in the right place at the right time.”

The main principles of Freemasonry insist that each member show tolerance, respect and kindness in his actions toward others; practices charity and care for the community as a whole; and strives to achieve high moral standards in his own personal life.

Larimore Masons use the lodge, which is nearly 100 years old and was built for $13,000, for meetings and to hold fundraising and public relations events that are open to nonmembers and guests, such as breakfast and oyster stew feeds. They are also out in the community hosting golf tournaments, bean bag tosses, etc.

The North Star Lodge provides scholarships for Larimore High School graduates and supports community members in need.

It’s a big year for Williamson and a big year for all Masons around the world.

The group is celebrating its 300th year as an organization. In 1717, Masonry created the organization in England when the first Grand Lodge was formed. Because of his position within the organization, Williamson was invited to the 300th celebration in England. He declined.

“It would be a once-in-a-lifetime deal, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal to be Grand Master,” Williamson said. “That’s good enough.”

Williamson will be Grand Master for a year, with the new Grand Master installed next June in Grand Forks. He served as Deputy Grand Master last year. He started as a finance committee member, then was Junior Grand Warden and Senior Grand Warden.

Williamson said the big difference between the Masons and other fraternal organizations is the history.

“A lot of people like to talk about Masons as a secret society,” he said. “We are not. The ‘secrets’ that we have are the different things that we pass down. George Washington was a Mason. We still go through the same initiation as George Washington did. And we hold our meetings the same way George Washington did.”

As a member of the Masons, Williamson was eligible to become a Shriner, which he did. He has visited the Shriners Hospitals for Children in the Twin Cities the past two years. Shriners focus their fundraising efforts on nearly two dozen children’s hospitals across the country.

The Kem Shriners charted two buses out of Grand Forks to go to the Twin Cities over the summer. They took in a Twins game on Friday night and visited the children at the hospitals on Saturday.

“At a couple of locations they have patients tell their story. We don’t have to deal with half the stuff they’ve had to deal with. And they’re all young,” Williamson said. “It kind of reminds us of why we do what we do.”

Published with permission from the 6-12-2017 issue of “Behind The Lines” which is a MinnKota Power Company employee newsletter.