The Payson Masonic Lodge opened in 1973. The Town of Payson was incorporated that December, with Ted Pettet named as mayor of the interim council.
That same year — May 31, if memory serves — this reporter graduated with about 45 or so other somewhat awkward 17- and 18-year-olds. One of them was Lon Thomas.
This month Thomas was installed as the Master of the Payson Masonic Lodge.
Pettet sponsored him into the organization about five years ago, and is his habit, had to say a few words (or more) about Thomas that evening and he then contacted the Roundup and told this reporter what he thought would be an interesting story.
Since Pettet almost always has interesting stories (he has since he was this reporter’s business teacher in the dark ages at PHS), we agreed.
Thomas said he wanted to join the Masons because his father had belonged to the organization and he thinks his grandfather did as well.
Growing up, he didn’t learn anything about the Masons because his father didn’t discuss the group.
So, he didn’t know much about the Masons when he was brought into the group by Pettet, but he has learned more and more since joining.
“It has a lot of history — 300 years in the United States alone,” Thomas said.
To obtain a master degree and then be eligible for a leadership position, each new Mason — who must be sponsored by veteran members — must get two initial degrees: entered apprentice and fellow craft. After joining in 2007, Thomas obtained his master’s degree in January 2008.
He said the Payson lodge has about 100 members who are all about 50 or older.
“I see mine as a management role,” Thomas said.
He said he envisions the job to make sure the lodge’s expenses are covered; there is an accounting of all the funds; the chairs (committee leadership posts) are staffed; and to make sure nothing is done to jeopardize the lodge’s charter.
“I want to finish my term with black ink on the bottom line and our charter is still hanging on the wall,” Thomas said.
He said if any men in the Rim Country are interested in learning more about the lodge, they should contact a Mason and ask about it or go online to the lodge’s award-winning Web site, www.paysonmason.org.
Thomas left Payson for college after graduating in 1973 and then moved to Washington.
He returned to Arizona in 1990 and then, when his mother died, he inherited a house in Payson, which he and his family used as a summer place. They decided to become full-time residents in 2007 and he telecommutes with Honeywell.