ORVILLE LEE O’NEILLGrand MasterDecember 5, 2009 – December 4, 2010       Orville Lee O’Neill, the fifth of seven children born to John Thomas O’Neill and Myrtle Frances Phillips O’Neill in the small community of Neches in Anderson County, Texas on April 4, 1938. His maternal grandfather, Brother W.D. Phillips came to Texas from South Carolina and settled in Fairfield, Texas and eventually received his Masonic Degrees in Fairfield Lodge No. 103, and to Orville’s knowledge was the only member of his family who was a member of the Masonic fraternity.       While Orville was still a young boy, his father moved the family to Dallas where he had secured a job with the City of Dallas in the water department, and Orville began his education in the Dallas Public Schools. Soon after leaving his formal education behind, he began a long career in transportation and operated local and long haul carriers in the motor freight industry.     On August 15, 1973, Orville and Roxie Richardson were married. Orville had three children, two daughters and one son from a previous marriage, and Roxie had one son. Together Orville and Roxie have four grandchildren. Tragedy struck in January of 1989, when one of his daughters was killed in an automobile accident.     Orville was elected Grand Secretary/Recorder of the Grand Royal Arch Chapter and Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of Texas in December of 2001 and the long time residents of Dallas moved to Hewitt outside Waco in July of 2005 to shorten his commute to the office.     Grand Master O’Neill’s Masonic journey began in 1978 when he received the Entered Apprentice Degree on April 18th, was passed to the Degree of Fellowcraft on May 16th and was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason on June 13th in White Rock Lodge No. 234 in Addison, Texas. His first step upon the ladder that has lead him to the highest office that Texas Masons can bestow was the appointment to the office of Tiler in White Rock Lodge No. 234 where he served through the line of appointive and elective officers to eventually be elected to the office of Worshipful Master to serve in the 1984-1985 Masonic year and again as Worshipful Master in the 2000-2001 Masonic year. He was elected Secretary of White Rock Lodge No. 234 in 1986 and served through 1991, and in 1994, the lodge honored Orville’s commitment and dedication to Freemasonry by presenting to him the prestigious Golden Trowel Award. In addition to his parent membership in White Rock Lodge, Orville is a plural member of M. Denton Stanford Lodge No. 594, Riesel Lodge No. 835 and Point Isabel Lodge No. 33, and is a member of Texas Lodge of Research. He is an Endowed Member of White Rock Lodge No.234 and Riesel Lodge No. 835 has elected him a Life Member in that Lodge.    It was in 1988 that then Deputy Grand Master Leonard P. Harvey selected him for appointment as District Deputy Grand Master where he served with distinction in Masonic District No. 14-B from December, 3, 1988 to December 2, 1989.     On December 4, 1999, Orville was installed as Grand Tiler under the appointment of incoming Grand Master W. Vernon Burke, Jr., and served as such during the 2000 Grand Lodge year. On December 4, 2004, he was installed as Grand Marshal under the appointment of incoming Grand Master Elmer Murphey, III, and served as such during the 2005 Grand Lodge year. Additional service to his Grand Lodge include several terms on the Committee on Credentials as well as member of planning teams for several incoming Grand Masters. Orville served as Assistant State Coordinator in 1993 for Grand Master R.O. ‘Bob’ Schnell and in 1994 for Grand Master Billy Tinsley. He was the State Coordinator in 1995 for Grand Master Farris L. Benham.     It was on December 2, 2006, that Orville was elected and installed as Right Worshipful Grand Junior Warden and in the ensuing years his progress up the fraternal ladder that leads to fame in our mystic order to have the purple of our fraternity placed upon his honored shoulders to become the leader of all Texas Masons as Most Worshipful Grand Master. Orville was elected to the Sam Houston Hall of Fame in 2005.     To know Grand Master O’Neill as a man and as a Mason is to fully understand that he is not content to miss opportunities for additional involvement in Masonic activities. It was in 1980 that he took his first steps in the direction of York Rite activities by receiving the Capitular Degrees in Garland Chapter No. 451 of Royal Arch Masons, Garland Council No.118 of Royal and Select Masters and Alexander C. Garrett Commandery No.103 Knights Templar. He later affiliated with Alexander C. Garrett Chapter No. 420 and Alexander C. Garrett Council No. 382 which eventually merged with Dallas Chapter No. 47 and Dallas Council No. 18. He was elevated to the office of High Priest of Alexander C. Garrett Chapter No. 420 of Royal Arch Masons in 1984, Thrice Illustrious Master of Alexander C. Garrett Council No. 382 in 1985 and as Commander of Alexander C. Garrett Commandery No. 103 in 1989. He received the Excalibur Award from Alexander C. Garrett Commandery No. 103 in 1996, and the Prestigious Knight Templar Cross of Honour from the Grand Commandery in 2000. He is now a plural member of Love Field Chapter No. 478 and Love Field Council No. 396 where he and other Companions were instrumental in reviving that Chapter and Council. It has been Orville’s dedication to York Rite Masonry that led to his eventual election to service as Most Excellent Grand High Priest of the Most Excellent Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Texas during the 1997-1998 Capitular year.     Additional activities and honors earned in various York Rite bodies include The Order of High Priesthood, The Order of the Silver Trowel, Super Excellent Master Degree and his induction into the KYCH. He is a Charter member of Lyle L. Cross York Rite College No. 147 where he has served as Governor. He also has received the Order of the Purple Cross from the York Rite Sovereign College of North America. He is a Charter Member and Past Excellent Chief of Rose of Sharon Council No. 49, Knight Masons; He is a Charter Member and Past Sovereign Master of R. Bruce Brannon Council No. 270, Allied Masonic Degrees; Past Sovereign of Permian Basin Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine; a member of Ascension No. XX, Holy Royal Arch, Knight Templar Priests; Past Prior and is the current Registrar of Texas Priory No. 23, Knight York Cross of Honour, and is a member of Texas College, Masonic Societas Rosiccuciaana in Civitatibus Foederatis.     Grand Master O’Neill proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the Texas Masonic Retirement Center, serving elected terms for the years 1998-2004, 2004-2008 and is presently serving a 2008-2013 term. He has served as President of the Board since 2006.     Grand Master O’Neill was elected to the Board of Directors of the Grand Lodge Library and Museum for the term 2005-2009.     He received the fourth through the thirty-second degrees of Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Dallas in 1981; the Investiture of Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 1993 and in 1999 was nominated and elected by the Supreme Council of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction to receive the Thirty-Third Degree to assume the title of Inspector General Honorary. Orville served as General Secretary of the Dallas Scottish Rite Bodies in Dallas from 2001 through 2004 where he is an Endowed Member, and in addition holds Endowed Memberships in the Fort Worth and Waco Scottish Rite Bodies. He serves as a Trustee of the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, and is also a member of Hella Shrine, and Alla Grotto.     Such a man and Mason is Orville Lee O’Neill. Honest; Dependable; Committed to the Craft. A leader among men and Masons, and his every endeavor has brought up good and square work. His service in every aspect of Freemasonry has been such as to remind those who follow his leadership that the lessons of our gentle Craft are such as to make good men better. Such lessons learned are reflected in his life. May God Bless and prosper his leadership as the One Hundred Seventy-Third Grand Master of Texas Masons. Leonard P. Harvey,  Past Grand Master – 1989