One of the Valley of Omaha Knights of St. Andrew's oldest traditions is the annual membership dinner, held each January at the end of the Venerable Master's term and before the incoming Master is installed. The dinner began as a dinner in a private dining room of a restaurant or a potluck at a member's house but in recent years, has become a catered dinner at the Scottish Rite.
This year, the dinner was held on January 14th at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center, presided over by David Meinzer, 32°, the 2016 Venerable Master for the Knights of St. Andrew. Thirty brethren and their ladies were in attendance, including Hersh and Betty Talley of Lincoln, General Secretary John Maxell, 33° and his lady Deb, and several past Venerable Masters. Sam & Louie's catered the evening, serving salad, pasta in a pesto sauce, chicken and capers, lasagna, and green beans, followed by cheese cake and coffee.
David Meinzer began the evening with a welcome and retelling the Omaha KSA's history, which began in 2001 as a way to engage 'Black Hat' members and develop leadership. Brother Jim Wolfe was instrumental in arranging the chartering by the Valley of Wichita, and the MacCrae Red Modern tartan Omaha Knights wear is in honor of his family's tartan. Dave left the guests laughing with the questions that haunted journalist Andy Rooney on CBS' Sixty Minutes.
Next, Kyle Beckner, 32° presented statistics on the members who hosted Scottish Rite gigs greeting guests as rentals during the year. Some brethren worked as few as 1 events and others as many as 35 events. Having the Knights host gigs and greet guests provide our rental guests with a special experience in our building and help our rentals, which are a large portion of the Scottish Rite's income. In return, the Scottish Rite Cathedral Board pays the KSA $100 for each rental worked, which have amounted to significant financial resources for the KSA - all of which go back to the Scottish Rite in donations. Most recently, the KSA donated new quartz counters in the 2nd floor restrooms, matching the countertops on the first floor reception desk and restrooms. In total, the KSA has donated more than $40,000 back to the Valley since 2006 through rental gigs, events, and fundraisers.
Afterward, David Meinzer presented the Dennis P. Samuelson Service Award, which was named after our past Venerable Master Denny Samuelson (2005). Sadly, the Valley lost Denny in 2013. The award was named in recognition of his love for the KSA and recognizes a Knight of less than 5 years membership whose leadership and service reflects Denny's love of the KSA and his own long service to the KSA. This year's recipients were Robert Pelletier, 32° and Carl Simmons, 32° who led the Valley in gigs worked and service as volunteers, degree work, and line officers. Their names were added to the award which is on display in the Valley lobby, and David presented a certificate of recognition to Carl Simmons (Bob Pelletier was unfortunately not present.)
Last, David recognized Wade Ridout, 32° who was elected Venerable Master for 2017 and will be installed on January 16th with the line officers. Wade outlined his plan to involve more Brethren in the KSA and add an additional fundraisers. With that, the evening adjourned with several Knights remaining for cocktails and conversation.
There are 135 Knights of St. Andrew in the Valley of Omaha, representing a cross section of 32°Active Knights and 32° KCCH and 33° Emeritus members, many of whom remain active long after receiving Scottish Rite Honors. The Omaha Knights of St. Andrew is proud to be one of the most active bodies in the Scottish Rite.