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A fallen Brother and a gift of recognition
MEMORIES — Vicky Verrill recently received the plaque her late husband, Ken was awarded. The 2010 Mason of the Year for the Oxford Masonic Lodge #18 was given out at the annual district meeting, recognizing Verrill for his personal efforts and accomplishments, both in the fraternity and in the community.
OXFORD — Oxford Masonic Lodge #18 recently honored one of its fallen brothers: Past Master, Kenneth Verrill.
For those who knew Ken, July 26, 2010 will always be a dark day, as this particular mason was well-loved and respected by members of his lodge, community and family.
According to Master of the Lodge (and son-in-law) Ryan Kane, Verrill was a remarkable human being with a heart of gold and someone who always put others first.
“It is safe to say that if it happened at Oxford Lodge this brother had a hand in it, most often leading the way,” said Kane. “Ken was responsible in proposing and spearheading the student of the month program, recognizing students as being good citizens, and helping create a positive environment in school.”
“He reestablished a relationship with the American Red Cross, hosting three blood drives in the last year, and was personally very proud to become a double red donor himself,” he added. “Ken also agreed to provide breakfast for the participants in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Event. He started our books for bikes program in which he personally awarded 14 bikes this year alone to Guy E. Rowe students. In fundraising events in the lodge he was equally ambitious planning, preparing, setting up, tearing down and cleaning up both our annual speedway breakfast and chicken barbecue.”
Kane often wondered how Verrill could ever manage to do it all.
“Not just his year as Master where, at quick glance, he held 52 events, meetings, suppers, etc., but this year as well, where he did all that I have already described and so much more. How can a man work 65 hours a week, every week, and still go to a lodge function of some sort at least two nights a week, and still find time for his family?”
For the officers and Brethren of Oxford Lodge the choice was obvious when selecting a Mason of the Year, and according to Kane, Verrill’s passing had nothing to do with the honor.
“The Mason of the Year is an award given out by the District Deputy Grand Master at the annual district meeting, recognizing a Mason for his personal efforts both in the fraternity and in the community. His contributions stand alone as the benchmark of what the award should stand for, and his example is one that any good officer wishes to follow, but very few will ever match his accomplishments.”
The award is displayed proudly by Verrill’s wife Vicky at their home in Oxford.
“Kenny was so giving, and he always did nice things for people,” said Vicky. “I just wish he was here to get this award himself. He would have been so humble, yet proud.”
“He was so involved with the masons and the community, but we never felt like we were on the back burner,” she added. “We had five children and four grandchildren, yet somehow he always managed to find time for everyone. He would take our grandchildren fishing, to the movies and loved family gatherings in the back yard.”
Vicky said that he put his all into everything he did.
“He worked at Record Lumber and he would go to work almost two hours early, so that everyone would have coffee when they arrived. If it was a Masonic function, it was the same thing; he would have to leave two hours early to make sure everything was set up. He was also a volunteer firefighter and umpire.”
According to Vicky, being a Mason was the highlight of his life.
“He told me that it was the best thing that he could have ever done, and besides his family, his membership at the lodge was his pride and joy. One of his favorite things to do was to travel around to the different lodges to visit. He would get a van-full of guys to go.”
His giving was just as prominent at home as it was in the community.
“I would find a note saying 'I Love You,' next to my coffee mug in the morning or posted on the fridge,” she cried. “I just miss him so much. I miss his practical jokes and I still hear the phone ring and think it’s him just calling to say hello.”
Vicky was overwhelmed with the turnout at Ken’s funeral.
“I’ve never seen so many people,” she explained. “They say usually you will get seven or eight Masons to attend and there were over 100 of them. But it actually didn’t surprise me because he did so much for others.”
Vicky will always hold the Mason of the Year award near to her heart.
“At this time of year, there is nothing for me to celebrate, I don’t feel right having Christmas without Ken, but the feeling I get, looking at this plaque helps so much in healing. I am so proud of him and his accomplishments, and to know that people recognized that is all the gift I need.”
According to Kane, Verrill almost didn’t join the Oxford Masonic Lodge.
“My wife and I brought Ken and Vicky to a fellowship night, so they could meet the Brethren and learn a little about Freemasonry and what we stand for. He said something to me on the way home that I will never forget. He said: I probably would have gotten involved in the Masons a long time ago, but didn’t think I was worthy.”
“To think that he was that close to never being a part of it,” exclaimed Kane. “Never having those experiences, never discovering that not only was he worthy, but that he was one of the finest leaders of our Lodge in its history.”
“You often hear we take good men and make them better,” he added. “Well that is true, but Worshipful Ken Verrill was always a good man and he made the Oxford Lodge a better place.”