Caloosa Belle

Coveted Masonic Apron to be presented to Malcolm D. Baker

Malcolm D. Baker of LaBelle inspecting his first Masonic Apron received more than 60 years ago. (Submitted photo/Phillip Keyes)

To Malcolm Davis Baker the Masonic apron he will receive at a special ceremony Tuesday evening, August 23, represents more than paying the yearly dues to an organization he has belonged to for more than 60 years.

He was deployed for much of his nearly 25 year career in the U.S. Air Force to most every part of the world. Places where America’s presence means freedom and democracy would continue to exist for millions of people. His uniform was the visible indication that America was serious about protecting its friends. As a Freemason, Mac was an invisible “Brotherly” figure people in those faraway places could relate to.

The Masonic Fraternity is not exclusive to American men. It exists in every Country in the world; at times under a veil of secrecy due to political and religious extremism. Still, all Masons everywhere trace the roots of the fraternity back in antiquity to the building of the House of The Lord by King Solomon.

Malcolm became curious about the Masons as he grew up in Rockingham County, North Carolina. His father was a member of that Lodge but never spoke to Malcolm about why he was a member. Then, as a high school student Mac became active in the Masonic youth group, DeMoley. Following his enlistment in the Air Force in 1948, and later when he was stationed at Albany, Georgia, he petitioned the Masonic Lodge for membership. Within weeks in the Spring of 1953, he completed all the necessary requirements and was made a Master Mason.

“I have never felt a conflict between my walk as a Christian and my Masonic membership,” he said during a recent talk. The reason is that Masonic teaching reflect the great lessons that are provided to us in the Holy Scriptures. This is also one of the reasons the fraternity is able to exist in every culture in every nation in the world.

Malcolm and Amanda were married in 1957 They had met in the Florida Panhandle in 1955 when he was stationed at Eglin Air Force Base as part of the Strategic Air Command and she was working as a nurse in nearby Ft. Walton Beach.

Earlier this summer, Malcolm was contacted by the District Deputy Grand Master of Georgia Masons, informing him that they wish to honor him with a special apron and to discuss how the presentation could be accomplished. Malcolm no longer easily travels long distances which ruled out returning to Albany, so it was agreed to ask the LaBelle Masonic Lodge to host the ceremony. The members in LaBelle immediately agreed, since several of them are acquainted with the Baker family.

The LaBelle Lodge members, in view of the consequential importance of the presentation, have planned a public presentation which will include a ceremonial dinner and ceremony at the Lodge building on Jaycee-Lions Drive in LaBelle. The proceedings will be officiated over by Masonic dignitaries from Georgia as well Southwest Florida. Friends and acquaintances of Malcolm and Amanda are invited to attend but must call Phillip Keyes at (863) 675-3813 prior to August 21 for reservations. Seating is limited and the cost will be to defray the expense of the meal.

Malcolm and Amanda moved to LaBelle in 1998 from Mobile, Alabama. Amanda had recently retired and they were looking to relocate closer to their sons. Son Eric and his family were living in LaBelle and encouraged the senior Bakers to move here. Their second son, Michael and his wife Kimberly were living in Washington, D.C. Eric and his wife Teresa are members of LaBelle’s Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church and encouraged Mac and Amanda to attend with them as a family. Mac’s background was in the Presbyterian Church, but Amanda has been a life-long Methodist in Alabama.

“It blows my mind how all this has come together,” Malcolm said. “There was no hesitation on the part of Ronald Rowe, the District Deputy Grand Master in Albany, to accept the hospitality of the LaBelle Masons. I am truly honored to be recognized in this manner and we are looking forward to a wonderful evening.”