Since our first featured Mason of the month was Randall Currier, our new Lodge Secretary, I thought we would follow up with our previous Lodge Secretary, R:. W:. Rusty Glendinning! Rusty is a pillar of Sarasota Lodge No. 147 as well as the Scottish Rite in Tampa. We were fortunate enough that Rusty was able to take time from his busy schedule to sit down and answer our questions for the Featured Mason of the Month in June 2021!
Chris Burns: Where were you born?
Rusty Glendinning: Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Chris Burns: What did you do for a living?
Rusty Glendinning: I was a banker for 25 years and then managed country clubs for 7 years.
Chris Burns: Did Freemasonry have an impact on your career?
Rusty Glendinning: Yes, I think it did. I believe it opened some doors for me both professionally and personally.
Chris Burns: Who was your role model as a child and why?
Rusty Glendinning: Probably my role model as a child was my mother. Being a single parent raising two children, I saw how she worked hard and sacrificed so that my sister and I had everything that we needed growing up.
Chris Burns: What is one thing you learned from your mother?
Rusty Glendinning: Be nice to everyone and take the shopping cart back inside the grocery store and not to leave it in the parking lot.
Chris Burns: What do you consider to be your biggest weakness?
Rusty Glendinning: Not having the word “no” in my vocabulary.
Chris Burns: Can you give us a breakdown of your extensive masonic history?
Rusty Glendinning: It was a dark and gloomy night (only kidding). It started when I joined Sarasota Chapter, Order of DeMolay in 1967 at the age of 14. I served as Master Councilor of the Chapter in 1969. After that, I served the State Association as State Treasurer (1971) and Deputy State Master Councilor (1972). I petitioned Sarasota Lodge in 1973 at the age of 20. The Lodge had to wait until I turned 21 to ballot on the petition, which they did on December 11th. I received my EA Degree on December 27, 1973, my Fellow Craft Degree on February 21, 1974 at J. Dewey Hawkins Lodge No. 331 as a courtesy to Sarasota Lodge. I was Raised on April 13, 1974 in Sarasota Lodge. I was appointed Junior Steward in 1975, progressed through the line and served as Worshipful Master in 1980. From 1981 to 1987 I served as Lodge Secretary and then again from 2014 to 2020. In 1984, I was appointed District Deputy Grand Master of the 24th District (now the 23rd District) by M⸫ W⸫ James A Wilson. I was appointed to the Masonic Youth Activities Committee in 1981 and served on that committee for 11 years, 2 years as State Chairman. I served one year on the Public Education & Citizenship Committee, the Finance & Accounts Committee for 2 years and on the Jurisprudence Committee for 20 years, 3 of those years as Vice-Chairman of the Committee.
I joined the York Rite Bodies in 1974 and Egypt Temple Shrine in 1976. When Sahib Temple received their charter, I became a Charter Member. I joined the Scottish Rite in 1980. I became a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour in 1995 and a Thirty-third Degree Scottish Rite Mason in 2001. In 1996. I became a member of the Valley of Tampa’s Classroom Directors Staff, serving as chairman from 2001 to 2007, when I was appointed the Personal Representative of the Sovereign Grand Inspector General in Florida. I still serve in that capacity in addition to being the Special Assistant to Ill⸫ Rick Hoover, 33°, Deputy in the Orient of Florida.
I continue to work with DeMolay both on a local, state and international level. I have served Florida DeMolay as a Program Director, Province Governor and as Conclave Director. I was elected to DeMolay’s International Supreme Council as an Active Member in 1989 and served for 20+ years as chairman of the DeMolay Alumni Affairs Committee.
Chris Burns: You mentioned becoming a 33rd degree scottish rite mason. Can you tell me a little bit about how long you served the Scottish Rite prior to receiving that honor and what the process of becoming a 33rd degree was like? I think many people are curious about that in general and I know I would love to hear your story.
Rusty Glendinning: I had been a member of the Scottish Rite for 15 years when I received a letter from the Sovereign Grand Inspector General (SGIG) informing me that I had been elected to the rank and dignity of a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour and to contact the General Secretary in the Valley of Tampa for more details. I called the General Secretary, who I served as District Deputy Grand Master for in 1984 and told him that I did not think I deserved this as I had really done nothing in the Scottish Rite for 15 years except pay my dues. His response was that I was not getting the KCCH for service to the Scottish Rite but rather for my work and efforts in the Order of DeMolay as an Advisor. He explained to me that the KCCH is awarded for several reasons, community service, service to the fraternity, etc. After receiving the KCCH, I started to get involved in the Valley of Tampa and became a member of the Classroom Director’s staff, which was basically being at the two Reunions each year. In 2000, I received a letter from the SGIG informing me that I had been elected to receive the Thirty-third Degree in 2001. I honestly read the letter three times to make sure I was reading it correctly. While I never expected to receive the first letter, I knew that those letters were normally sent out every other year (odd year) at that time. The second letter was a total shock as it was mailed in 2000 instead of 2001, as 2001 was the bicentennial year of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction and they voted a year early so people could make plans to be at the 2001 Session. For the most part, the Thirty-third Degree is given to members of the KCCH for their work in the Scottish Rite. This is not a hard and fast rule but one for which there are not many exceptions.
To become a Thirty-third, a man must have received his KCCH at least 44 months prior to his election to receive the Degree. Nominations for this Degree are made by the SGIG or Deputy in each Orient by May 1st of every other year (every odd year) as that is when the Supreme Council meets. A brother nominated for this Degree must be elected unanimously by the Active Members (not to exceed 33) of the Supreme Council. The KCCH and Thirty-third Degree are not to be asked for and if a brother does ask to receive either of them, he is automatically barred from ever receiving it. The number of new KCCH members is based on a formula for which one must have a Masters Degree from MIT to understand as it is based on the number of new members of the Scottish Rite in an Orient for the previous two years along with the number of reinstatements and affiliations for the same time period. The number of Thirty-thirds awarded in any given year is not to greater than one-half of the number of new KCCH awarded. These totals are reported to the SGIG or Deputy in each Orient and he then decides how many new KCCH and Thirty-thirds will come from each of his Valleys. Recommendations for these honors come from the Personal Representative in each Valley to his SGIG or Deputy and are confidential.
Chris Burns: With so many appendant bodies, committees, and district opportunities, what advice would you give a new made Master Mason that is looking to get more involved in Freemasonry?
Rusty Glendinning: Freemasonry is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. If you have a desire to progress through any part of the Masonic family, dedicate yourself to that Lodge, Allied or Appendant body. Learn as much as you can, meet as many people as possible, and participate in the length of your cable tow but never forget where you started, your Blue Lodge. Every branch on the Masonic tree is worthy of our support but a brother does have other obligations (work, family, church) so you need to pace yourself.
Chris Burns: What people had the biggest impact on your Masonic life and why?
Rusty Glendinning: There are so many that have had a major impact on my Masonic life and unfortunately, many of them are no longer with us. Perhaps the biggest impact was from a brother that I never met as he passed away on November 8, 1959. That was Frank S. Land, the founder of the Order of DeMolay. The fraternity that he founded has had a major impact on my life since that night in February 1967 when I joined. His vision for young men has afforded me the opportunity to meet Edgar Mitchell, the 5th man to walk on the moon, interview Reubin Askew, former Governor of Florida, and John Cameron Swayze (our older readers will remember him), one of this country’s first newscasters, a sitting member of a Presidential Cabinet and a former member of a Presidential Cabinet, leaders of business, politicians and many more. It is probably logical that the others who have had a major impact on my Masonic life are tied to the Order of DeMolay. Glenn Wittstruck, who within 30 minutes of finding out I was 14, had 2 DeMolays knocking on my front door, a petition in hand; R⸫ W⸫ Arthur Stone, PM of Sarasota Lodge, who was my Chapter Dad when I was Master Councilor, my catechism instructor in the Three Degrees (he had 1 week to teach me my EA & FC catechisms and really learned that patience is indeed a virtue) who also taught me all of the ritual work in the Lodge that I know; R⸫ W⸫ J. G. Kicklighter, who would become my step-father in the late 1970’s but who had been one of my DeMolay Advisors. Last, but not least, are those young men who were DeMolays and years later make contact with you or see you somewhere and still call you Dad and thank you for what you instilled in them.
Chris Burns: What is your greatest success in Freemasonry?
Rusty Glendinning: There are probably two that come to mind. One is becoming a Thirty-third Degree Scottish Rite Mason. The second is being appointed to the Grand Lodge Jurisprudence Committee and serving as Vice-Chairman for three, going on four years and not being a Past Grand Master.
Chris Burns: What motivates you to keep showing up for Freemasonry?
Rusty Glendinning: The fellowship that is there at any Masonic meeting or activity that I attend.
Chris Burns: What qualities do you think make up a great Worshipful Master?
Rusty Glendinning: I feel that the qualities of a great Worshipful Master are not how proficient he is in the ritual but rather his organizational skills, his ability to use common sense in governing the Lodge, his knowledge of the Digest of Masonic Law of Florida, and his ability to motivate his Lodge to meet or exceed agreed-upon goals during his year.
Chris Burns: What do you think are the biggest challenges that Freemasonry faces today?
Rusty Glendinning: Changing with today’s standards but at the same time, not lowering our standards. Those joining the fraternity today are different in many aspects from when I joined. Freemasonry needs to stay in tune with today’s population but still instilling in our members their duties to family, community, and mankind.
Chris Burns: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Rusty Glendinning: Sitting in the chair in the SE corner of the Lodge with my name on it and seeing Randy Currier as Lodge Secretary.
Chris Burns: Is there something about Sarasota Lodge No. 147 that you think stands out from other lodges?
Rusty Glendinning: The history of our Lodge and the impact that our members have had in many facets of life in Sarasota. As the oldest Lodge in Sarasota County, three Lodges, Venice Lodge No. 301, Cary B. Fish Lodge No. 346 and The Builder’s Lodge No. 376 (both of which are now called Phoenix Lodge No. 346) are our children, as our approval was needed for them to be formed. Many of our former members were the movers and shakers of early Sarasota, both the city and the formation of Sarasota County. There are many but a few are Col. J. Hamilton Gillespie, a charter member of the Lodge and the first Mayor of the town of Sarasota who brought the game of golf to Florida (the Lodge is located on what was the 8th fairway of his golf course), C. V. S. Wilson, the owner of the first newspaper in Sarasota, a Charter member of the Lodge and our first Secretary, W⸫ Arthur B. Edwards, the first Mayor of the City of Sarasota, W⸫ John Burket who is credited with getting the State Legislature to pass the resolution forming Sarasota County, Augustus Wilson, a charter member of the Lodge who brought the first automobile to Sarasota, three members who served the City of Sarasota as Chief of Police and a former member of the United States House of Representatives.
Chris Burns: If you could step into my shoes, what would you have asked yourself that I didn’t?
Rusty Glendinning: What prompted me to join the Masonic Fraternity? I think the answer is simple; it was my association with Master Masons who were my DeMolay advisors. Their dedication to the young men of Sarasota and the state of Florida had a major impact on my life and I wanted to continue in their footsteps.