Frank Shapiro of Newbury Park became the master at the 57th annual installation of officers of Conejo Valley Masonic Lodge #807 in January at the Conejo Valley Masonic Center in Thousand Oaks.
He is a retired teacher and has been for 6½ years, after working in special education for 10 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District; prior to that he was a carpenter in television and movie studios for 27 years.
“I want to thank my brothers in this Lodge, for allowing me to serve as Master for this special year,” Shapiro said. “I am humbled and honored by your confidence placed in me and I will strive to do my best to show all the brothers in this Lodge that your trust and confidence were not undeservedly bestowed.
“For me personally, being allowed to sit in the oriental chair is the high point of a journey that began when I was in high school,” said the 52nd master of the lodge.
Shapiro said he has reached a high point as he begins his year as master of this Lodge, and will continue long after he has completed his year as Master.
“This is something that I wanted to do for a long time, but only really got the chance over the last few years,” he said.
The new master credited a friend, Robert Orgen, a member of the Order of DeMolay, with his early interest in the Masons. Orgen suggested that Shapiro join the Order. He took the suggestion and became an active member of a chapter.
“In the Order, I learned that commitment, brotherhood, compassion, responsibility and accountability were traits and ideas that I would need to develop and practice if I were to be successful as an adult. It is a journey that I resumed when I joined this Lodge and became a Mason almost seven years ago.”
Shapiro said that 2017 is a significant year in the Masonic Lodge, its 300th anniversary.
“As we embark on the next 300 years of Masonry, I think that these same traits and ideas that I learned and practiced in the Order are just as important today for our fraternity and this Lodge.”
He said that over the ensuing generations, Masonry has spread and grown from that one grand lodge to stretch around the world.
Quoting from Masonic Mirror and Mechanic’s Intelligencer, Boston, 1826, he added “It now, and I quote, ‘unites men of every country, sect and opinion, causing true friendship to exist among those who might have remained at a perpetual distance.’
“What does this mean today for our fraternity as a whole and individually as Masons?” Shapiro asked. “For our fraternity, it is a continuing commitment to advance the three principal tenants of Masonry: brotherly love, relief and truth.
“For this Lodge, it is a continuing effort to improve ourselves as men and Masons, to make this a place where respect and civility are the norms and not the exceptions, and to enlighten our community about our role in it.
In addition to members of the lodge and guests, he was joined at the event by his wife of almost 43 years, Risa. He said he would not be master “without her by my side supporting me. Her insights and suggestions are most appreciated and I want to thank her for all she has done in getting ready for this year.”
Shapiro and his wife are grandparents of four grandchildren, two that live with them, Ethan and Dylan along with their mother Aimee, the Shapiro’s daughter. Their other two
grandchildren are Ben and Revi Goren and they are from daughter Marni and her husband Elad of Newbury Park.
The new master gave a special thank you to granddaughter, Revi, who made a cloth bag to store the gavel and sounding block he will use at meetings.
“The gavel I am using was made by a past master in Northern California,” he said. “It did not come with a box to keep it in. She designed and assembled this beautiful bag for this occasion and I will always treasure it.
“Revi likes art and is very creative as you can see by the bag she designed and sewed for my gavel. She probably takes after me, as I like to make things—especially. Carving is a hobby I pursue passionately. It is a way for me to relax. I enjoy Masonry and the people I have met during my time in the fraternity.”
Shapiro also thanked several in attendance for their help and assistance in getting to this point in his journey. These include Scott Spiegel of Thousand Oaks, past master, “for his invaluable assistance in planning for the coming year,” he said, adding, “It takes a lot of people to make an organization run smoothly and he has always been there to help when needed.”
He also paid tribute to Stephen Wurtzel of Calabasas, lodge secretary, “for his invaluable assistance in planning for this special event. He is always there to do the little things, which often go unnoticed, but are essential if events like this are to be successful.”
During his year as master, Shapiro said he wants to lead the Lodge in becoming a place where men can come and be comfortable.
He said they should come and be accepted as brothers, where the color of their skin, their religion or their lifestyle won’t be held against them, and where civility, respect and fellowship are always nourished and practiced.
To reach that goal and showcase the commitment to the principal tenants of Masonry, the Conejo Valley Masonic Lodge has a calendar of social, community and educational events, including St. Johns Festive Board, Widows and Sweethearts Dinner, community service programs such as Child I.D., Midnight Mission, supporting the Masonic Foundation and Masonic Education nights.
“These are only a few of the events that the three principal tenants of Masonry embody.”
Shapiro added that the Lodge should be a place where brotherly love, relief and truth are not just words spoken, but ideas actually practiced.
“This is the goal I want to strive for as master of the Lodge. This is the goal that is also part of our commitment to improve the world by making ourselves better men.”
Thank you Brother Steve Ames for your contributions with this article. Parts of this Article Published in the Thousand Oaks Acorn.