Eugene Caldwell (right) smiles as his daughter, Wanda Hope, presents him with his 50-year Masonic pin Dec. 1 at South Shelby Masonic Lodge 140. (Reporter photo/Brad Gaskins)

Archived Story

Eugene Caldwell: 50-year Mason

Published 8:36pm Thursday, December 1, 2011

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Eugene Caldwell, of South Shelby Masonic Lodge 140, received his 50-year membership pin in a ceremony at the lodge Dec. 1.

Caldwell, 77, is the lodge’s chaplain.

“It’s a beautiful thing to be a Mason for 50 years,” he said.

Caldwell, who lives in Shelby, spent 20 years in the Air Force and is a veteran of Korea.

He was a member of lodges in Savannah, Ga., San Antonio, Texas, and Montgomery before joining the South Shelby Lodge four years ago.

Three family members joined Caldwell for the ceremony, including daughter Wanda Hope, grandson Ryan Hope and great-granddaughter Haley Hope.

Front, from left: District 22 Lecturer Lyn Emfinger presents Gene Caldwell with a certificate recognizing his 50 years as a Mason at a ceremony Dec. 1 at South Shelby Masonic Lodge 140. South Shelby Lodge members at the ceremony included (back row, from left) Johnny King, Gordon Fluker, Gene Howell, Ben Hubbard, Wayne Vansant, David Orth and Matthew Rush. (Reporter photo/Brad Gaskins)

Matthew Rush, master of the South Shelby Lodge, said it’s “amazing” to see Caldwell awarded with the 50-year pin. He said Masonic membership is declining statewide and nationwide as longtime members age.

In Alabama, there are 27,854 Masons and 300 lodges, as of July 14, according to the South Shelby Lodge.

“It’s an honor to have another 50-year member here,” Rush said.

The South Shelby Lodge has 91 members, including six 50-year members, Rush said.

Lyn Emfinger, the district lecturer for District 22, which includes all of Shelby County, was at the lodge for the ceremony.

South Shelby Lodge members at the ceremony included Johnny King, Gordon Fluker, Gene Howell, Ben Hubbard, Wayne Vansant, David Orth and Rush.

South Shelby Lodge meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of every month. A meal is always served, and visitors are always welcome, Rush said.

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