by Mike Burkett
roundup staff reporter
Back in May, Louis Black's wife, Julia, suggested they take a nice, quiet drive down to Tucson.
Black, being an easy-going kind of husband for the past 58 years, said, "Sure."
Once they arrived, Julia suggested that they drop in unannounced at the local Masonic Lodge to see some old friends.
Black, being a dedicated member of that fraternity for exactly 50 years, said "Sure."
It wasn't until they entered the building packed with cheering friends and fellow Masons from all over the state that Black had any idea he was about to receive the coveted Masonic Lifetime Achievement Award by the Grand Lodge of Free & Accepted Mason's of Arizona.
"I was stunned," Black remembers. "It was the last thing in the world I expected. And as soon as we sat down, the master of ceremonies started reading every single word from this list ..."
Black holds up a 7-page stack of papers, upon which is printed in small, single-spaced type the accomplishments and service of a man dedicated not only to the Masons, but to community, volunteerism, young people, families in need, cultural endeavors, military veterans and brotherhood in general.
"Louis P. Black clearly demonstrates every day the meaning of Masonry and what Masonry is," wrote award-committee chairman Craig Wilkins in his testimonial. "He has given freely of his time, energy and his heart. He is truly a 'Mason's Mason' ... We can all learn to become better Masons by following the spirit and heart and exemplary actions of Brother Louis P. Black."
Born in Kingman in 1923, Black spent the majority of his formative years is Pasadena, Calif. where he stuck around long enough to graduate from the Pasadena Machinist Trade School and enlist in the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Following his post-war release three years later, Black attended the University of Alabama, the University of Southern California and the University of California to receive his CPA.
It was in this period that Black met and married Julia, with whom he adopted two children and to whom he's been successfully married for almost six decades thanks to an understanding reached very early on in their relationship.
"We were standing in the bedroom at my folks' house, and for some reason neither of us can remember, she was reading me the riot act. When she finished, I said, 'Are you through?' She figured I was going to get in the last word. But I said, 'Fine, I'm going to go out and rake the back yard.' That was the last argument we ever had."
When Black joined the Masons in 1951, "he did not sit on the sidelines and watch; he wanted to get involved," said Dr. C. Melvin Ratheal, who presented Black with his award. "Louis has been chaplain, secretary, treasurer, as well as all the line positions ..."
Black went on to become a member of the Carmalita Masonic Lodge No. 599 in Pasadena, Calif.; the Arcadia Masonic Lodge No. 547 in Arcadia, Calif; the Green Valley Lodge No. 71 in Arizona; and now the Payson Masonic Lodge No. 70 in Payson.
He also donated his time, accounting acumen and fund-raising talents to dozens of committees, boards, community organizations and, of course, Masonic causes.
Since Black revealed the secret of his successful marriage, he was asked if he would reveal the secret of his success as one of the state's most highly-honored Masons?
"I have two basic philosophies," Black said with a smile. "The first is, 'When people don't go your way, just go around them.'
"The second: 'Don't let the (bums) grind you down,'" he said with a laugh.