JOHN ALBERT BLAKE 1843-1926
Junior Grand Warden, 1892
Grand Master, 1906-1908
From Proceedings, Page 1926-400:
The entire Fraternity in Massachusetts was shocked and grieved beyond expression when the unexpected news went forth that our loved and venerated Senior Past Grand Master had passed from life on the 27th day of November after a few hours' illness. Most Worshipful Brother Blake had been a Mason for sixty years. He had held many offices including those of Grand Master, Grand High Priest, Grand Master of the Grand Council, Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, General Grand Master of the General Grand Council, and General Grand High Priest, which office he held at the time of his death.
The last twenty years of his life were given to the benevolent work of this Grand Lodge. During his administration as Grand Master he started the movement which resulted in the building of the Masonic Home which was under his care and direction from its inception to the end of his life. As Relief Commissioner he was the agent for the administration of the charities of the Grand Lodge both inside and outside the Home. This duty he discharged with untiring zeal, broad sympathy, and infinite patience.
His was a singularly strong and sunny nature, always calm, always tolerant. He saw his objectives clearly and attained them unerringly, not by force or indirection, but by gentle and effective persuasion. The loss which his death brings to us is not merely the loss of a faithful and trusted official; it is the loss of a loved and valued friend. Those of us who knew him will ever hold his memory in our hearts. To future generations the great charities of the Grand Lodge will be his monument.
From Proceedings, Page 1927-57:
Brother Blake was born in Danvers, Massachusetts, April 15, 1843. He received his education in the public schools. Soon after the breaking out of the Civil War his patriotic instincts, like those of other young men of his age, induced him to enlist in the navy, in which he served until some time in 1864. His naval experience acquired during the war was a matter of considerable pride to him during his life. On returning from the war, he engaged in the business of manufacturing shoes, and remained in that occupation until the early part of the present century, when he gave up his business and became Relief Commissioner for the Board of Relief of the Grand Lodge, participating in the development of the Masonic Home, in which occupation he remained until his death.
He was married at Danvers, December 13, 1868, to Miss Abbie Dodge Hyde who survives him. The children born to them were two sons and 'a daughter. Those who were favored with the acquaintance of Brother Blake and. his wife wili agree, we are sure, that they grew old together beautifully.
He was made a Mason in Amity Lodge May 4, 1866; passed June 8, 1866, and raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason July 13, 1866. He served as Senior Deacon in 1874, Senior Warden in 1875, and Worshipful Master in 1878. He was Secretary of the Lodge in 1885. He served the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts as District Deputy Grand Master (Eighth Masonic District) in 1889 and 1890, was Junior Grand Warden in 1892, and Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts from 1906 to 1908, inclusive.
One can hardly think of Masonry in Massachusetts during the last generation without thinking of Most Worshipful Brother Blake. He was so much a part of it all that his life is woven into the warp and woof of MassachusettsFreemasonry as completely as a design is woven into cloth by the hand of the skilled workman. He was a part, and a vital part, of Freemasonry, and during these many years it has been the chief object of his thought and life. In this he was constructive and not destructive. For instance, immediately after his election as Grand Master in 1905, he let it be known that the chief object of his administration would be to awaken the Fraternity to greater charitable effort, the immediate and concrete form of which should be a Masonic Home. To this end he devoted the greater part of his three years of service as Grand Master going from one end of the jurisdiction to the other and everywhere crusading in behalf of the establishment of such an institution by the Grand Lodge. Early in his administration the Grand Lodge gave him a Committee upon his recommendation to aid in this work. Almost the final act of Brother Blake's administration as Grand Master was the passing of papers for the purchase of the property in Charlton now used as a Masonic Home and dedicated during the administration of his successor. So great had been his devotion to this purpose and so eminently fitted was he by character and disposition that immediately upon the establishment of the Masonic Home there sprang up a unanimous demand from the Fraternity that Brother Blake should devote the rest of his career to its development and to the other charitable work of the Grand Lodge. His business affairs permitting, he accepted the appointment as Relief Commissioner in which capacity he was still acting at the time of his death.
Many instances of constructive work by him could be cited, but we content ourselves in this report with but one other. Following the custom of centuries, it had been usual at the celebration of the Feast of St. John the Evangelist to serve wine with the dinner. Brother Blake made no pretence of being himself a total abstainer. In spite of this, as Grand Master he ordered that no wine should be served at the celebration of the Feast and alcoholic beverages have ever since been banished from all Grand Lodge functions.
To do this sort of thing required conviction and courage, and Brother Blake had both of these in abundant measure. Withal, he was a lovable man. "He who would have friends must show himself friendly." Brother Blake had hosts of friends, and few, if any, enemies. He had the faculty of making friends and retaining them. Everyone had for him respect, regard, and affection so that in Masonic affairs he was a power beyond most of his colleagues.
Large in physical stature, he had an equally large heart and radiated the warmth of Fraternal affection characteristic of Masonry in its highest development. That he was a natural born leader is indicated by the almost innumerable offices which he held in various Masonic organizations, culminating in his service, not only as Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, but also as Grand High Priest, Grand Master of the Grand Council, and Right Eminent Grand Commander of this jurisdiction. He was also Most Illustrious Grand Master of the General Grand Council and, at the time of his death, General Grand High Priest of the General Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the United States.
A brief record of his official service to the Fraternity other than in Symbolic Freemasonry is as follows: he received the degrees in the Cryptic Rite in Salem Council, Royal and Select Masters, in 1878, was Thrice Illustrious Master in 1884, and Most Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters in Massachusetts in 1894 to 1896 inclusive. He served in various offices in the General Grand Council of the United States, beginning in 1900, and was its Most Illustrious Grand Master in 1912 to 1915. He received the orders of Knighthood in Winslow Lewis Commandery in 1876 and was its Eminent Commander in 1882 to 1885. He served in various offices in the Grand Commandery of Knights Templars of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and was Right Eminent Grand Commander in 1910.
In the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, he received the degrees of Perfection at Haverhill, Mass., where he was for one term Thrice Potent Master, and the other degrees to the 32° in Giles F. Yates Council, P. J., in Mt. Olivet Chapter, R. C., Boston, and in Massachusetts Consistory. He was Second Lieut. Commander of Massachusetts Consistory in 1895 to 1897 inclusive. In September, 1900, he was coronetted a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Honorary Member of the Supreme Council, 33°, and was First Lieut. Commander in Massachusetts Council of Deliberation in 1894 to 1895.
He passed away at his home in Malden, November 27, 1926, after only a few hours' illness. Funeral services were held in St. Paul's Episcopal Church and the burial took place at Danvers on November 30th, 1926.
Brother Blake was always a good citizen, but his public service was limited to one year in the House of Representatives of the State Legislature. Thus ends the brief record of our good Brother and your Comrriittee in writing the word finis deems it not improper to recall the. quotation with which our Brother was so familiar -
"Thus wastes man: today he puts forth the tender leaves of hope; tomorrow blossoms and bears his blushing honors still upon him; but the next day comes a frost which nips the shoot and while he thinks his greatness still aspiring, he falls like autumn leaves to enrich our Mother earth."