From the Personal Representative (February, 2010)

posted May 19, 2015, 12:05 PM by San Jose Scottish Rite   [ updated May 19, 2015, 12:05 PM ]
The message from the Personal Representative, this month is not of my making.  It is a message of dedication to an ideal that has been demonstrated through the life of a brother who has passed from labor, and is now at home.
Bill Nelson leaves a legacy in San Jose Scottish Rite that is seldom equaled, and never surpassed. His contribution to this Valley is legendary. Joining Masonry in 1949, after a distinguished career in the Army, he was first a member of Santa Cruz Lodge #38, and then, having moved to Mountain View, he joined Josiah Roller Lodge in 1958.  Bill’s mantra was Service; service to God, service to his family, his work, his lodge, and to the other Masonic organizations he belonged to.  As we reflect on the rich history of this Valley, Bill Nelson’s name emerges as one of the prime contributors to those memories.
He was Wise Master of the Council of Rose Croix in 1980, and Master of Kadosh in the Consistory in 1992, but his contributions to the craft didn’t stop there.  He was well known for his work in the “Rose Upon the Altar” play that our members presented, was active in the Choir, and was involved in several of the degrees, serving as Degree Director in the 18th, 27th, and 30th, from time to time. In the 30th degree, Bill was most noted for his ability to kick the mitre across the floor of the stage, at times sending it into the lap of some unsuspecting candidate sitting in the front row of the audience.
Another of Bill’s famous efforts was the rolling of newspapers for Scottish Rite, selling these papers to the Flower Growers Association and receiving cash support for the Childhood Language Clinic.  It has been variously estimated that his return to the support of the Clinic amounted to somewhere in the neighborhood of eight thousand dollars per year, which he did for about twelve or fifteen years, and returning almost one hundred thousand dollars.  In rolling the papers, he did so unobtrusively and quietly, though he always encouraged the involvement of other members.  Few of us can ever equal such a contribution.
Beside his work for Scottish Rite, he was Master of his Lodge in 1977, and President of Morrill W. Marston Chapter #413, National Sojourners, and Commander of John Drake Sloat Chapter, Heroes of ’76.  He was well recognized in the area as one of the principle members of the Hero’s “Color Guard” and “Flag Building Team”, performing for service clubs, civic organizations, lodges, hospitals and schools.
Bill was also active in DeMolay, where he long held the prestigious DeMolay Legion of Honor, recognizing his service to the youth of Northern California.
All these characteristic traits and contributions add up to an overall picture of one who lead by example, and never backed down in his willingness to serve his fellow man, as well as his family. Space, as you can well see, prevents me from exploring Bill’s untiring work in the interest of his church, his country, his family, and his friends.
Always a handsome and outgoing man, his sense of humor was contagious, and when, in 1976, he lost an eye and a good part of the left side of his cheekbone and the roof of his mouth to cancer, he simply slowed down for a few months, soon picking up the pace again and performing at warp speed as before.  His example to his friends and fellows was, if anything greater than before.
Of course, we miss Bill, but his spirit and the contributions he has made to our order will survive for many, many years.  One sad note about his death is that there are, and will be, many young members who will not have known him personally.  It will be the duty of those of who did know Illustrious Bill Nelson 33°, to make his spirit survive in all that we do, perpetuating his memory in our lives and trying to emulate his example to all we do.


Bob Winter - Personal representative of the Deputy of the Supreme Council in California

The Rite Word - February 2010, Volume 4, Issue 2