‘60-year jewel’

By Dick Mason, The Observer October 08, 2012 02:33 pm

Jack Harmon of La Grande received this framed certificate along with a pin known as a “60-year jewel’’ at a ceremony honoring the more than six decades he has been a member of the Joseph Masonic Lodge. DICK MASON - The Observer
Jack Harmon of La Grande received this framed certificate along with a pin known as a “60-year jewel’’ at a ceremony honoring the more than six decades he has been a member of the Joseph Masonic Lodge. DICK MASON - The Observer

Jack Harmon honored for more than six decades of service as member of Joseph Masonic Lodge 

Velcro fabric was introduced in 1948, the same year Jack Harmon was inducted into the Joseph Masonic Lodge.

Today the popularity of Velcro is unwavering, and so is Harmon’s commitment to the Masonic Lodge of Oregon. 

Few people can match or top Harmon’s long-running service to the Masonic Lodge, one which was saluted Tuesday in La Grande. Harmon received a coveted pin, the “60-year jewel” recognizing more than six decades of service as a member of Joseph Masonic Lodge.

“I feel so honored,” said Harmon, 92, who was inducted into the Joseph Masonic Lodge Sept. 15, 1948. Harmon vividly remembers that day.

“It was quite a deal to go into the Masons,” Harmon said. “I had been interested in joining for a long time.”

Harmon had long-term plans when he joined the Masonic Lodge, noting that his was a serious commitment to the organization. Almost everyone who joins the Masons intends to be with the organization for many years, Harmon said. 

He lived in Enterprise when he joined in 1948 and moved to La Grande in 1962. While in La Grande, Harmon served as president of the Union County Shrine Club. The club raises money for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Portland. The hospital provides medical care free of charge to youths suffering from orthopedic conditions, burns and other conditions. There are 22 Shriners hospitals and all are run by Shriners International, which is closely affiliated with the Masonic Lodge organization. 

Those who spoke at the 60-year ceremony for Harmon included Butch Vermillion, a local Masonic Lodge member. Vermillion said he will never forget reading Harmon’s application for admission to the Masonic Lodge. Applicants were required to write why they wanted to join.

According to Vermillion, Harmon wrote, “Because Jack Harmon would not take no for answer.”

Harmon began talking to Vermillion about his interest in joining. Masons are not allowed to recruit someone unless that person has already approached them about becoming a member. 

The loyalty Harmon has shown to fellow Masonic Lodge members was also saluted at the ceremony. Leland Fager of Milton-Freewater noted that when he received a Masonic Lodge honor while living in Sitka, Alaska, Harmon came there to attend the presentation ceremony. Fager, who is Jack Harmon’s son-in-law, speaks with heartfelt emotion about the show of support Harmon gave him by traveling to Sitka.

Those who also attended the 60-year ceremony included his son Bill of La Grande and daughters Julie Hickerson of La Grande, Joan Fager of Milton-Freewater and Jean Talbott of Portland.

“My family is so great,” Jack Harmon said. 

Harmon has traveled extensively since retiring in 1983. He speaks movingly of how fellow Masons have reached out to him throughout his trips. He said that coming across another Mason while traveling is like meeting an instant friend. 

Harmon, who has long been activity in the community as a member of the Masonic Lodge, Rotary and other organizations, said he enjoys reaching out to others.

“When you give to people you get twice as much back as you gave.”