Commanders of the Rite


(Compiled 2005. Updated as of June 2022)

The Virginia Commanders of the Rite 33° was organized June 15, 1969. It was conceived in June 1968, by a group of Thirty-Third Degree Masons who were attending the Annual Session of the Virginia Council of Deliberation at Holiday Inn Scope, Norfolk, Virginia; and was organized at Virginia State College during the annual session in 1969. Petersburg Consistory #144 hosted that annual session with Sublime Prince Willie F. Little as Commander-In-Chief.

During this annual convocation, Petersburg Assembly #144, Order of the Golden Circle was also organized, adding to the significance of this monumental session. Loyal Lady Ruth Brown was elected to serve as its first Loyal Lady Ruler, under the stewardship of SGIG David L. Muckle as Deputy of the Orient.

History informs us that during this meeting at Virginia State College which is now known as Virginia State University, Ettrick, Virginia, there appeared seventeen (17) Grand Inspectors General who expressed a burning desire to organize this fraternal group of peers, styled COMMANDERS OF THE RITE of VIRGINIA. In his capacity as Deputy of the Orient, SGIG David L. Muckle #9 called the meeting to order while GIG Milton Keeling recorded the proceedings.

The charter members of June 1969 are as follows:- GIG William W. Pierce, 33º, #22; GIG John Powell, 33º, #9; GIG Thomas Bradley, 33º, #9; GIG Andrew J. Smith, 33º, #40; SGIG David L. Muckle, 33º, #9; GIG Charles H. Harris, 33º, #103; GIG Roswell A. Taylor, 33º, #156; GIG Richard L. Jones, 33º, #144; GIG Milton Keeling, 33º, #120; GIG Wendell Cobbs, 33º, #40; GIG R.A. Markham, 33º, #22; GIG William C. Johnson, 33º, #9; GIG Henry M. Whittle, 33º, #144; GIG M.C. Martin, 33º, #105; GIG John Davis, 33º, #144; GIG Pitman C. Rock, 33º, #22; GIG Grant H. Tolbert, 33º, #40.

Officers were elected as follows:

GIG John Henry Evans, 33º – President

GIG Milton Keeling, 33° – Secretary

GIG R.A. Markham, 33° – Treasurer

GIG Grant H. Tolbert, 33° – Chaplain

The purpose of this club was to promote fraternity among the Peers and to pay respects to their loved ones during the last weekend in October each year. These public celebrations are held in a social setting and, by virtue of the wide appeal they generate, they have been expanded to include the loved ones of all Scottish Rite Masons.

The Commanders of the Rite initially held regular meetings on the 5th Sunday of the calendar month and, under the stewardship of SGIG Richard L. Jones, sought to develop a set of By-Laws. Whereupon, GIG Robert D. Lucas #156, serving as President, appointed a committee to review the records for policies that were adopted over the years and compile a set of By-Laws for adoption.. This committee consisted of GIG Michael A. Parris, #156; GIG Alphonso A. Anderson, #22; GIG Benjamin W. Fletcher, #346, GIG Lawrence E. Hodge, #346 and GIG Robert L. Shropshire, #9. Among the articles that were adopted was a name change and the establishment of charitable objectives. The organization is now known as the Virginia Commanders of the Rite, 33°. It should be noted that in 1994 regular meetings were changed to the 5th Saturday to avoid interference with religious worship on Sundays.

Over the years, this organization has contributed to numerous charitable requests that have made a tremendous impact on others. We are also proud to report that our membership increased to approximately 165 members at the beginning of the New Millennium (2000 A.D.).

The following individuals have served as President of the Commanders of the Rite:

John Henry Evans, Jr., #144

GIG Charles H. Harris, #103

 GIG Thomas E. Minor, #22

GIG Pittman C. Rock, #22

GIG James J. Lockhart, #40

GIG Leonard (Joe) Cox, #144

1990 – 1992 • GIG Robert D. Lucas, #156

1992 – 1994 • GIG Michael A. Parris, #156

1994 – 1996 • GIG George M. Ellis, Jr., #144

1996 – 1998 • GIG Frederick Jones, #346

1998 – 2000 • GIG Wallace Greenlee, #22

2000 – 2004 • GIG Julius Green, Jr., #40

2004 – 2005 • GIG Benjamin W. Fletcher, #346

2005 – 2007 • GIG Willie H. Thompson, Sr., #144

2007 – 2010 • GIG Nathaniel Hill, #40

2010 – 2012 • GIG Ernest Hardy, #9

2012 – 20XX • GIG Thomas L. Mullins, Sr., #156

2015 – 2022 • Dormant

2022 – 2023 • GIG Dale Wright, #144

2023 – Present • GIG Tony Ward, #9

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