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Published: Monday, 2/4/2008

On The Town: Making history, marking time

Many celebrated history in northwest Ohio as milestones were reached, anniversaries celebrated, and cultural accomplishments honored.

A FOUNDER'S Day Celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Ohio was Jan. 30 at Fort Meigs Memorial State Park and museum. A formal dinner at Carranor Hunt and Polo Club followed. This is one among 25 locations throughout Ohio that held revelries in January as a kickoff to the yearlong celebration of the bicentennial.

There will be a parade and re-enactment of the laying of the cornerstone at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus on June 21, and a memorial ceremony July 4 at the grave of Rufus Putnam, who was the first Grand Master of Ohio, at Mound Cemetery in Marietta.

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The state convention in Columbus will include a first-ever exhibition of historical artifacts, including the St. John's Lodge bible, upon which the Founding Father and Mason George Washington took his oath of office. The oldest lodge was American Union, chartered in 1776.

Today, Ohio has 530 lodges with a combined membership of 114,000.

The first lodge, Army Lodge No 24, formed in northwest Ohio on Sept. 13, 1813, primarily because of war of 1812. However, when the government closed the fort, a new lodge was started in Maumee: the Northern Light Masonic Lodge No. 40 in 1817, with the first Worshipful Master, Lt. Almon Gibbs.

At Fort Meigs, an Ohio Historical Marker sits at the entrance to the park, the site of the Army Lodge No. 24 F&AM 1813-1820, where Ohio Militia Capt. Henry Brush, Ohio Masonic Grand Master, authorized the establishment of northwest Ohio's first lodge, with Col. William Anderson as master.

Back at Carranor in the year 2008, in honor of the celebration, a song was presented by renowned singer Howie Damron, who wrote a special song for the commemoration of Ohio Free Masons.

Event chairmen were Bob Sickelbaugh and his wife, Ann. At the celebration was Charles Murphy, the highest ranking mason in this district, the Deputy Grand Master of Toledo. His wife, Zoellen, is the mother adviser of the Maumee Order of Rainbow Girls, many who go on to become Eastern Stars.

In October in Columbus, Mr. Murphy will be elected to the top rank: Grand Master of northwest Ohio, for the following year of service. Then in 2009, the annual meeting will be at SeaGate Centre.

Also present was George Bratz of Worthington, Ohio, and formerly of Grand Rapids, Ohio. He is a past grand master and the secretary of state of the Masons. He was there with his wife, Marilyn. James Olmstead of Perrysburg, past Grand Master of the State of Ohio, was there with his wife, Shirley.

Others included John and Jodie Stone of Holland, and Barney Stickles of Maumee, who said, "We are so fortunate to have had founding families here in Toledo for so long, and many of them had Masonic ties, including Robert Stranahan, Jr., and his brother Frank Stranahan for which the Stranahan Great Hall was named, and Oatis Avery Browning, for which the Browning Masonic Community in Waterville was named.

On a national scale, many presidents were members of the Masonic brotherhood, including President Harry Truman and President Gerald Ford.

A lantern was lighted and presented to the Northern Light Lodge No. 40, the oldest in the district, signifying Free Masonry. It will travel to 25 locations in Ohio, including Bowling Green, which has the second-oldest lodge in northwest Ohio, then back to Perrysburg, and on and on.

THE 13th Annual Black History Month art exhibit opened Jan. 25 and runs through February 28 at 20 North Gallery.

On opening night, guests had a chance to schmooze with the artists and talk about their works. Charles Gabriel was glad to talk about the photos he takes while traveling. Wade Harrison's acrylic portraits were eye catching to many guests. Warren Woodberry's works are filled with deep meaning and symbolism. One delightful painting combined Haitian, African, and Christian symbolism all in one artwork. Another painting there is based on John Lennon's "Imagine," with actual notes from the song.

Mr. Woodberry and his wife, Yolanda, who also has art in the show, are starting Truth Art Gallery on Adams Street, and are expecting to open next month.

Mrs. Woodberry said she combined the old with the new through tribal masks and paintings.

Aaron Bivins, a former stand-out Rockets' linebacker and a member of the University of Toledo hall of fame, works for United Parcel Service, have his paintings in the show.

Also among the artists in the show are Alice Grace, who painted a portrait of Sen. Barack Obama, Ramon Tiggs, Elizabeth Jordon, and Wil Clay, who is the artist featured for this month's Artist Talk. The Coretta Scott King awardee from Toledo will discuss and demonstrate his children's book illustrations and the processes involved at 2 p.m. on Feb. 24. In addition, he will talk about his 10th book, to be released by Harper Collins this April, A Man for All Seasons - The Life of George Washington Carver, written by Stephen Krensky, as well as his large-scale mural soon to be unveiled at the Mott Branch Toledo-Lucas County Public Library on Dorr Street for Catch the Magic Read!

ALPHA Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. celebrated its 100th anniversary Founders' Day Saturday with a luncheon in the Student Union ballroom at Bowling Green State University. AKA is the oldest African-American sorority in the country.

The local chapter, Zeta Alpha Omega, was chartered in 1952 and Kathryn Franklin was the first president. Local chapter president is Lisa Dubose and Founders Day chairman is Shelia Brown. The graduate chapter is Zeta Alpha Omega and undergraduate chapters are Alpha Lambda-UT and Iota Iota-BGSU.

The national AKA chapter was founded January 15, 1908, on the campus of Howard University in Washington.

So last month, many, many members gathered there in celebration, honoring the nine founding members, including Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Anna Easter Brown, Beulah Burke, Lillie Burke, Marjorie Hill, Margaret Flagg Holmes, Lavinia Norman, Lucy Slowe, and Marie Woolfolk Taylor.

Today, AKA has 200,000 members in 975 chapters worldwide: United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Germany, Korea, Japan, and in the continent of Africa.

Headed by international president Barbara McKinzie, it's headquartered in Chicago.

Included in the celebration was an emotional re-enactment of history, a resolution from the city of Toledo, a proclamation from Toledo Mayor Carty Finkebeiner, a letter from Gov. Ted Strickland, and more.

Exciting is the international launch of the sorority's official publication, Ivy Leaf, in digital form. As mementos, members received an ivy plant that signifies strength and a glass picture frame. There is another celebration in Washington set for July 12-18 for its Centennial International Conference.

Among those on the reservation list at the local celebration were members who included Thelma Adams, Maumee Valley Girl Scouts 1st African-American board member, Vernelis Armstrong, U.S. magistrate, and WilliAnn Moore, NAACP president, and many educators, health-care professionals, and other business women.

THE Toledo Area Alumnae of Alpha Omicron Pi celebrated Founders' Day this year Jan. 27th., along with the two collegiate chapters, Alpha Psi from Bowling Green, and Theta Psi from the University of Toledo. The celebration was held at the Clarion Westgate.

Set to join in the celebration was Past International President Ann McClanahan Gilchrist.

Special recognition was given to Eddie Boggs, this year's honor-card recipient. The award is presented to someone who exhibits leadership and service in the community and to women in particular.

Extra special were the 100 stuffed panda bear toys, signifying the chapters mascot, given to Chad Bringman, president of the board of directors of Ronald McDonald House Charities, for children who pass through the doors.

Each year at Founders Day, the chapter donates pandas to a different charity.



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