John McKee * - Grand Master 1953
In the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on August 18, 1907, Mr. and Mrs. Warren McKee became the proud parents of a son, whom they named John. These descendants of the great Scotch clan Mackay, saw to it that their son and heir was reared in an atmosphere and environment conducive to the building of character, instilling in his heart and mind a deep and abiding love of country, respect for his fellow man and a belief in and devotion to Almighty God.
In due time he graduated from the Harrisburg High School, attended New York University and completed his academic education at Southern Methodist University, from which he holds a Bachelor of Law degree.
Brother McKee came to Texas in February, 1930. On Saint John the Evangelist Day of that year, he persuaded Miss Leo Fern Armstrong, of Cottle County, to accept him "for better or worse." They have been blessed with one child, a daughter, Janice Areta, a student at the University of Texas.
He has been associated with the Ford Motor Company of Dallas for a number of years and now holds the very responsible executive position of Manager of the Industrial Relations Department. Among various memberships in business organizations, we note that he is a member of the Legislative Committee of the Texas Manufacturers Association.
Throughout the years, Brother McKee has stressed the point that the "good Mason" is one who takes an active interest in civic and public affairs.
That he practices what he preaches is abundantly demonstrated by the following:
Director, Dallas Community Chest Director, American Red Cross
Secretary, Democratic Executive Committee
Chairman, Citizens Committee on Public Schools and others
He is active in the councils of his church, Lakewood Methodist, being a member of the Board of Stewards and President of Methodist Men of Lakewood.
His Masonic record follows:
Received the Master's Degree in Pentagon Lodge No. 1080, which Lodge conferred the degree as a courtesy for Trinity Valley Lodge No. 1048, on December 19, 1939.
Worshipful Master, Trinity Valley Lodge No. 1048, 1946-47.
District Deputy Grand Master, 14th Masonic District, 1947-48.
Elected Grand Junior Warden, December, 1950. Elected Deputy Grand Master, 1951. Elected Grand Master, 1952.
Member of Masonic Service and Education Committee since 1947, and its Secretary since 1948.
Member of Washington Chapter No. 422, R. A. M.
Member of Dallas Council No. 18, R. & S. M. Member of Dallas Commandery No. 6, K. T. Member of Hella Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S.
Member of St. Timothy Conclave No. 65, Red Cross of Constantine. Member of the Sojourners.
Member of Dallas Consistory, A. & A. S. R.
He is very active in the Consistory, being Chairman of the Executive Committee, Chairman of the Committee on Membership, etc. He was honored by this Rite in 1951 when he received the rank and decoration of a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour, and was coroneted in 1953, receiving the rank and dignity of the 33rd Degree, which was conferred in Washington, D. C., at the House of the Temple.
Brother McKee has for some years been concerned regarding the apathy of the general populace toward the Public Schools, desiring, above all else, to rekindle and awaken the public's interest therein. In order to acquaint himself with the methods used in California, which state has achieved outstanding success along this line, he spent several days in this great state, studying their methods-all of this at his own expense. We are familiar with the results of this study. Last year over a million citizens visited our Public Schools, and 1954 gives promise of substantially increasing this total. The Masons and citizens of Texas owe a deep debt of gratitude to Brother McKee for his outstanding service in establishing "Public Schools Week." Of a verity, it is "Democracy in Action."
In his first official communication as Grand Master, he called our attention to the "purposes of the Grand Lodge;" nor did he deviate one iota from these "purposes" during the year. He stressed the dignity of Freemasonry and reminded us that the degrees were conferred "for the edification of the candidate, rather than the entertainment of the members."
One of the Committees of the Grand Lodge, in summing up his year's work, had this to say; "This modest, God-fearing, Christian gentleman; this courageous, fervent, consecrated Mason, has endeavored to rekindle in our hearts respect for and devotion to the ideals of our beloved Fraternity. He has stressed the thought that the aims, tenants and philosophy of Freemasonry are needed today as never before, and that the truths it would inculcate in the hearts of its members are not now, nor can they ever be, out of date; nor can its purpose of training and developing men into charitable, God-loving, individuals of character be ever changed so long as time shall last. He has earned the plaudits of his Brethren and stands before you today as `a workman who needeth not to be ashamed."'
To this, we would add-not only "he needeth not to be ashamed" but rather "should he be proud of his year as Grand Master." Proud of his courageous handling of vexing problems. Proud of his awakening of the Craft to their responsibilities and proud of the love and esteem in which the Craft has enshrined his memory.