“The Masonic Home of Missouri, in my opinion, is reason enough for the existence of the Masonic Fraternity.”
— Harry S. Truman
The Masonic Home of Missouri honors many notable Missourians who were connected to the Masonic Fraternity. The Masonic Home recently updated its Truman Club Societies, changing one of them to honor Jacob Lambert and adding two additional levels honoring Gussie Grenner and Noah Givan. While these new names might not be as familiar as some of the others, they are all individuals that demonstrated a passion for the Masonic Home and its mission.
In 1932, with the passing of Gussie Grenner, the Masonic Home Board reported at Annual Communication the single largest gift the Masonic Home had received to date – $253,675 from her husband, Henry C. Grenner, a St. Louis Mason. They noted that Gussie’s estate was even larger, with the Masonic Home named the sole beneficiary of the income from the perpetual trust she established.
Gussie lived a life of generosity, showing her giving spirit to those around her. Her will was her final testament to that mindset, showering family, friends, store clerks, and numerous charities with her love one last time.
Gussie’s gift was set in motion upon her passing during the height of the Great Depression. The Masonic Home was facing overwhelming need, facility inadequacy, and uncertainty in its ability to keep and pay for staffing. Bro. Grenner’s gift was set aside, as instructed, as an Endowment. Masonic Home Boards over the next 90 years would ensure these funds were protected and allowed to grow to ensure the longevity of the Masonic Home. Annual distributions from Gussie’s trust totaled approximately $8,760 in the early years. Last fiscal year, the annual distribution was nearly $88,000.
During a time in history where need was immediate, Gussie met that need, but did so with intent to leave a lasting gift for the future. Each generation will face its own struggles: financial, medical, or wars. To provide a final gift that helps during hardships and also transcends to future generations is inspiring.
Jacob Lampert’s story is one of generosity and love. He loved his family, the fraternity, and the Masonic Home. A love so strong that it fostered generational giving to the Masonic Home, which cumulatively left an incredible impact on the Masonic Home.
In 1906, Jacob Lampert was appointed Junior Grand Steward. In the Summer of 1909, an anonymous letter was sent to various lodges in the state. It was a campaign to stop his advancement in the line because he was Jewish. The response of the Grand Master and the Committee on Jurisprudence was swift and stern in its condemnation of that campaign. Lampert was elected Grand Master, serving from 1912 to 1913. It was said that he was one of the most popular Grand Masters to occupy the office.
PGM Lampert served on the Masonic Home Board starting in 1916 through his death in 1921. He remembered the Masonic Home in his will, gifting $25,000. Roughly four years after his death, his sister, Rosa Graff, contacted the Masonic Home to build a swimming pool at the Masonic Home in his memory.
Rosa Graff’s daughter, Esther Graff Levy, moved to Los Angeles in 1936. She established a will in which her son, named in memory of her uncle, could live in the Beverly Hills home for as long as he wanted. Upon termination, Esther arranged that 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of the home would go to the Masonic Home to establish the Jacob Lampert and Rosa Graff Endowment Fund. The Masonic Home would eventually receive more than $2 million from the estate.
Noah Givan was the Masonic Home’s first Board President, serving consecutively from 1886 until his passing in 1907. His passionate support, extraordinary leadership, vision, dedication, and belief in purpose transformed an idea to create a Masonic Home into a reality that would continue to serve the membership for more than a century.
In addition to his leadership of the Masonic Home, he gave his time and talents freely to all his Masonic endeavors. From 1887-1888, he served as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, A.F. and A.M. He served as Most Excellent Grand High Priest in 1878. Givan was Worthy Grand Patron of the Missouri Order of the Eastern Star from 1890-1891.
As Missouri began to approach the centennial anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, it was decided to try to bring the World’s Fair to the state. PGM Givan was President of the association to build the Temple of Fraternity at the Fair. Once the fair opened, the estimated average daily attendance of members of the fraternal bodies was around 20,000.
It was said of Givan, “His dominant trait of character was love — love for his family, for his church, and for his fellow man, and this dominant trait he manifested in no uncertain manner by the use he made of his time, talent, and purse.”