Hometown: I was born and raised in Sioux Falls, attended Mark Twain School and Patrick Henry Junior High. I then attended Shattuck School, in Faribault, MN, and graduated in 1968. Then, I attended USD and am a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
Who was your Masonic sponsor and why did you become a Master Mason? My Masonic and Shrine sponsors were my grandfather Past Potentate Jay B. Allen and my father Lauren Lewis. My brother, Paul, was with me throughout this journey. My Great Great Uncle was Charles McKinney of Mckinney & Allen Insurance—he is number 10 on El Riad membership. Our family has been members of El Riad Temple since 1888.
What is your favorite part of being a Masonic Shriner? My favorite part of being a Shrine Mason is the friendships I have made throughout the years. By joining the Oriental Band in the 70s, the Divan, and becoming Potentate in 1989, I became friends of brothers from all walks of life and ages and still to this day remain close to so many.
How did you get involved, what all do you do, and for how long have you been involved with all of the multiple El Riad Shrine committees with which you are a part? In 1980-1981, Davy Dalthorpe and I took over the selling of Circus tickets and reserved seats to the public. Throughout the years, many people have helped including Jerry May, Bob Fredickson, and Jim Anderson, we all took turns being chairman of our committee and still today with help from Paul Lewis, Jeff Malone and many others we continue on. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Shrine Womens Auxilliary who throughout all the years have helped us sell at the Shrine and at the Arena. We couldn’t have done it without them.
What Units and Clubs have you been and/or currently are a member? I have been a member of the Oriental Band, serving as President and Rajah in the early 1980s.
Why did you accept the position of divan and then Potentate for our shrine? Past Potentate Kent Morstad was instrumental in my being named Second Ceremonial Master.
What was your largest challenge as El Riad Potentate? Being elected Potentate in 1989, our biggest challenges were the transportation fund and membership. Our budget for the fund was $70,000. We had a child who was burned taking a bath at night and had her at the Cincinnati Burns Hospital by 6 a.m., our cost was $17,000. Our transportation fund was funded by the Circus and donations from the Shrine units. We did not at this time rent out the shrine for parties, dances, etc. I felt the most important function of the shrine was to help children, get them to our hospitals, and continue to follow up on their care. Thankfully this is still our overall mission. The Imperial Council meeting was held at Toronto, Canada in 1989. The two main subjects were a new hospital in San Francisco and membership. We voted on building a new hospital with much fanfare (it was never built). Membership was the other topic. The shrine has just reported at the meeting that we had gone under one million Shriners for the first time—980,000 to be exact. There was great concern about our fraternity. Today, Potentate Les Kruse tells me at Imperial, the shrine has now gone under 200,000 members for the first time. There is great concern about our fraternity which sounds very familiar.
What were you most excited to accomplish? One of the accomplishments we started in 1989 was to fund a Circus reserved account. Five potentates put money into this account to help the Shrine in case of an emergency and as we saw with Covid-19 it was great hindsight.
Where do you see El Riad Shrine in five years? What do we do to promote our organization? Do we continue our mandatory Masonic membership? Do we continue to be on an equal footing with the Blue Lodges? Will there be a Shrine Circus? What will be our source of fundraising? These are just some of the questions which need to be addressed by our divan and representatives in the next few years.
Describe El Riad Shrine in five words: FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY, BROTHERHOOD, FUN CHILDREN
What would you tell shriners and their families about joining our family, fraternity and philanthropy? To be a member of this great philanthropy has brought many cherished friendships, fun, but an overall sense of purpose to support our hospitals and children. It’s a fulfilling legacy we all must adhere to.