The Valley of Omaha Scottish Rite hosted the 5th annual Christmas banquet and awards ceremony on Monday, December 18th. Our emcees for the evenings were Chuck Sederstrom III, 32° KCCH and the officers of the Lodge of Perfection.
140 Scottish Rite Masons, their ladies and guests gathered for cocktails in the lounge. Lee Terry, 33° began the evening with a seasonal debate, arguing that Christ is being removed from Christmas, replaced with Santa Claus and commericalism. Hal Daub, 33° argued that Christ remains the central theme of Christmas. Hal and Lee always give a stimulating debate, with plenty of fireworks and much to think about.
The Culinary Masters prepared their famous prime rib, served with salad, a baked potato, and an ice cream bar with Christmas cookies and treats.
After dinner, Chuck Sederstrom and his officers presented awards to recognize Brethren who have made a difference during the year as volunteers, leaders, and mentors. A.J. Johnson recognized Lee Terry, 33° for his fantastic degree work for many years in the 32° as well as the 21° Degree team, which is one of the most impressive Degrees staged during Reunions.
On behalf of the Stage Crew, Chuck Sohm, 32° KCCH recognized Wade Ridout, 32° KCCH for his countless hours perfecting the sound and lights software, working bugs out of the system, and creating an excellent Reunion experience for candidates. For the Royal Order of the Duck, Flight Commander Don Leu, 32° recognized Scott Reuman, 32° KCCH for his numerous hours spent working on the stage, lights, and theater.
On behalf of the Sovereign Grand Inspector General, his Personal Representative Paul Rutherford, 33° presented the SGIG’s Awards to Jim Flowers, 32°, who has set up the trains at Christmas each year, generously volunteers for the KSA, degree work, the fish fry, and selflessly gives his time and talent to the Valley. Ralph Joos, Jr., 33° was also honored for his 50-year dedication to the Valley, including his leadership of the Spring and Fall Reunions. Thanks to his catch-phrase “Pay up, deadbeat!” the Outings have operated at a profit for several years! In true fashion, Ralph was down in the kitchen, cleaning up after the dinner when his name was called.
Carl Simmons, 32° was recognized with the General Secretary’s Award as a Scottish Rite Mason of less than five years, who has stood out for volunteering as a Knight of St. Andrew, for Degree work, and wherever or whenever needed.
Amanda Beckner received the Ladies Award, in recognition of her volunteering as a bartender at numerous events during the year.
Armel MacDonald, 32° KCCH presented the final awards for the evening. Chuck Sohm, 32° KCCH was recognized for serving as a mentor to many Brethren as a Line Officer, on the Stage Crew, with the Royal Order of the Duck and Knights of St. Andrew. Gary Unger, 32° KCCH was presented with the Ambassador award, always representing the best of Freemasonry in all the bodies. Don Kavalec, 32° KCCH received the Leadership award, in testimony to his service as a Past Master of Kadosh for the Omaha Consistory, Past Venerable Master of the KSA, Degree work, running the Master Craftsman program, and serving on numerous committees.
The evening owes a special thanks to Steven Barchus, 33° who showed up as Santa Claus, sitting for photos with members and guests. The evening gave members plenty of laughs, a great evening, and boasted a wonderful attendance. The Christmas banquet has become a beloved tradition in the Scottish Rite Valley, so mark your calendar for December 17th for this year’s banquet.