Firefighters have friends in Masons

Morro Bay Fire Chief Mike Pond had a great day last Monday. The Bethlehem Estero Pines Chapter #95 for Masons/Eastern Star organizations surprised him with a donation of $15,000 in the memory of several members affiliated with fire service in San Luis Obispo County.

Current chapter Matron Irene Bougher said her Cambria chapter merged with the Estero Bay membership in 2004 and has since merged with Paso Robles. Ultimately, the Estero Masonic Hall in Morro Bay was sold. Consistent with their nonprofit charter, the members distributed the proceeds. They chose a San Jose Scottish Rite program for children with severe speech problems, Shriners Hospital’s new pediatric intensive-care unit and the Morro Bay Fire Department Friends.

Stunned at their generosity, Pond and Friends’ president and treasurer Keith and Cheryl Taylor accepted the gift.

“I’m overwhelmed,” Pond said. “We have so many needs — communications equipment, defibrillators for the seniors — it will be put to good use, and the connections to past firemen are stories we’ll treasure.”

Event organizer Myrtle Reid said that in 1967, the Rainbow Girls presented a check to Warren Englebeck to purchase the property for the hall on Highway 41 from the Grange after years of spaghetti and abalone dinners at the Cayucos Veterans Hall.

Robert and Bertha Shultz, Jim Crye and son Ed, Roy Johnsrud, Barney Pike and Jim Campbell all helped build the Estero Masonic Hall. The Carneys and Reids, including children Sheila, Kathleen and David, worked daily on the project.

In November 1969, Reid and Robert Shultz were installed. The group enjoyed Christmas in the new building, but the first leaders officially installed were Matron Nellie Cecil and Patron Morris Cecil in 1970.

“We became a family,” Reid said. “We had a wonderful time working together to build the hall.” Carneys and Reids would barbecue for the helpers. The barbecues then became their public fundraisers for years on various holidays.

“I’m so happy we could present this money to the Friends of the Morro Bay Fire Department,” Reid said. “Our daughter Sheila and Stewart were worthy matron and patron when Stewart took ill in May. Stew was a volunteer fireman for 25 years and, like his Masonic and Eastern Star memberships, the department was always near and dear to his heart.”

Reach Judy at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com.