70 years of service

Published 9:38 am Monday, August 14, 2017

MURFREESBORO – The evening of August 7 was dedicated to celebrating the 70 continuous years Joe Dickerson has been a member of the Mason society.

“It’s very, very rare,” Dickerson explained about recognizing someone for such a lengthy amount of time in the organization.

So rare, in fact, he said that they had to have a lapel pin specially made to commemorate his seven decades of Mason service. No one else had received a 70 year award before.

“Some people don’t even live that long,” he joked.

Dickerson, a 94-year-old World War II veteran and resident of Murfreesboro, attended the celebratory event held at the Roanoke-Chowan Shrine Club with his wife Becky. They estimated there were probably over 100 people who showed up on Monday night.

“It was very moving to see all those people honor him,” Becky said, adding that everyone had a lot of nice things to say about her husband.

Grand Master Gene Cobb, the head Mason in all of North Carolina, presented the certificate and lapel pin to Dickerson.

“I do appreciate the recognition,” Dickerson said, adding that he was grateful Cobb, a Methodist minister from Sanford, had taken time from his busy schedule to come present the award.

When asked why he joined the Masons, Dickerson laughed and said it was a long story. But essentially, he explained, he first heard about the group when he joined the military at the young age of 17. During basic training in Georgia, he said he was often picked for kitchen duty while two of his other friends were not.

“I think I peeled enough potatoes to fill up this room at least three times,” he laughed.

When he asked his friends how they managed to avoid kitchen duty, he learned that they were Masons and that their superior officer was a member as well. He was looking out for them, Dickerson explained.

They suggested that he should join the Masons too if he returned home from the war.

During his time in the Army during World War II, Dickerson was wounded four times. He stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, that infamous battle on June 6, 1944. Six months later, he also found himself fighting in another famous conflict known as The Battle of the Bulge. By the end of his military service, Dickerson had been awarded the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and four Purple Hearts.

After the war, he returned home and went back to daily life. He started working at Western Auto in Murfreesboro, a business he would later own and stay with for four more decades. But he also did just what his old friends had suggested. Dickerson joined the local Mason Lodge, located in Potecasi, on July 31, 1947.

Today, he’s a member of Murfreesboro’s American George 17 Lodge.

In his 70 years as a Mason, Dickerson has served as the leader of his lodge three times, and said he’s really enjoyed the service he’s done for the community over the years. He explained that the Masons do work to help out people in need, mentioning support for the Children’s Home Society as one example.

These days he said he enjoys working in his yard, traveling with Becky, and spending time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I’ve had a good life,” he said. “No complaints.”

Certainly his 70 year Masonic award is just another highlight in a long life lived so far.