Hometown: Sioux Falls

What keeps you in Sioux Falls? Initially family kept me around as both my parents were from families of 13 children and had lots of “built in” friends who were a joy to be around…later in life, it was because of lifelong close school friends…then it became co-workers at Sioux Vocational Services for over 30 years along with brother Masons and Shriners who kept me involved and now, in my dotage, I think it was because I was too lazy to move and find any place I would enjoy more!

Who was your Masonic sponsor and why did you become a Master Mason? My sponsor in my early 20s was Bill Ziske who I believe was one of the founders of the Rickshaws. I was good friends with his twin sons who he insisted become Shriners and I guess I went along for the ride at first and then became involved with the teachings and camaraderie all the men I met.

What is your favorite part of being a Masonic Shriner? Continuing to learn life’s lessons from like-minded men, their values and their devotion to becoming better men at all levels.

How did you get involved, what all you do, and for how long have you been involved with El Riad Shrine as our Treasurer? I stumbled around being heavily involved with the Oriental Band and became President in 2000. A fateful thing happened in the Spring of that year when I realized no one was presenting “The Old Red Fez”, so I said I would give it a try. That caused me to become more involved on a Temple-wide basis. After going through “withdrawal symptoms” after being Potentate and still willing to be involved and keep learning, I agreed to begin work as Treasurer in 2009.

What Units and Clubs have you been and/or currently are a member? Started out being a member of the Shamerahs (now the Provosts). Marriage and children caused me to pause my involvement and later joined the Oriental Band in 1987. I marched with them for many a year without playing much of anything very musical. 

Why did you accept the position of divan and then Potentate for our shrine? Kristi and I initially were not too keen on being on the Divan as our lives were already busy but then I guess we felt it was an honor and would be a good fit with both of our professions being to work with persons with developmental disabilities that mirrored the philanthropy of Shriners. It was a way to really give back while meeting new people and having FUN besides. 

What was your favorite thing about being the El Riad Shrine Potentate? Looking back there where many “favorite” things . . . overall was the feeling of making a difference on so many levels as well as meeting new, dedicated people that I otherwise would have never known. On a specific note, my favorite thing was having Timmy Kelly, as Shrine patient ambassador come to Sioux Falls. Despite being born with no sight and cerebral palsy he had a singing voice bar none as he did the national anthem for Eagles games, sang for Presidents, etc. He had asked to have a stagecoach ride (being South Dakota after all) and after a rousing dinner at Minerva’s where he sang Happy Birthday that brought patrons from all over wondering who that was, the Horse Corps met him there and gave him a ride in their stagecoach to the Shrine and waited patiently as he petted horses and asked a lot of questions. His performance at the Shrine was standing room only and he capped the night with an interview on KELOLAND News. He was a hit but for me, all of the Shriners units and Nobles who made this all happen was an even bigger hit!


What was your largest challenge as El Riad Potentate? 

The biggest challenge to me was not trying to accomplish too much in one year while respecting old traditions and making new ones for the future of the Shrine. Striving for new members and keeping current members energized was also a constant challenge

What were you most excited to accomplish? Not gaining over 10 pounds at all the Christmas Parties I was privileged to attend and THANK everyone for their commitment to the Shrine.

How did First Lady Kristi feel about her Shrine year? She loved making so many lifelong friends while supporting the philanthropic mission.

Describe El Riad Shrine in five words:

Unique. Compassionate. Memorable. Involved. Joyful.

Where do you see El Riad Shrine in five years? Given the involvement of so many Shriners in the day-to-day fraternal and philanthropic ways, I would see the Shrine continuing to grow and prosper as a force for good in the world. No one in the Shrine makes excuses . . . they make good things happen!

What would you tell Shriners and their families about joining our family, fraternity and philanthropy? There is something always bigger than we are and being involved in the Shrine affords an opportunity to be a positive force bigger than we are and keeps the smiles coming for everyone involved and those around them.

What else would you like to share with our Cactus readers? The best is yet to come…make it happen!

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