The Directors Staff
The Directors Staff is one of the most important units in any Shrine Temple, as it plays a prominent role in the ceremonies of the Shrine. Under the direction of the Director and his Staff the novices are initiated into the mysteries of our great order by being conducted across the “HOT SANDS of the DESERT” and the rigors of the “MOSLEM TEST” on their pilgrimage to “MECCA”. At the safe completion of their journey they assume the title of a NOBLE of the ANCIENT ARABIC ORDER NOBLES MYSTIC SHRINE. With this pretext in mind the Directors Staff was one of the first units formed in the new Kena Temple, at its inception and until 1955 the unit was known as the Wrecking Crew. Noble Ollie S. Mason was appointed the first Director. Charter members of the Staff were Nobles Stanford T. Alexander, M. Rex Byrnes, Benjamin A. Dove, Bryan Dowling, Charles W. Fields, Cicero G. Fortenberry, Otis H. Hansbrough, Perry B. Holsinger, Orville E. Hoover, Hosea B. Johnson, Robert A. Kelley, William F. Kline, Aubrey B. Lee, Ollie S. Mason, Samuel J. Miller, Bruce G. Rhoads, Grafton H. Rice Jr., Irvin Siegal, Frank I. Tabler, Gordon C. Thomson, Mark L. Trate, Raymond N. Wells Sr., and John R. Wigglesworth. These Nobles, men of many talents, worked long hours in constructing the necessary equipment for the new Temple, they created an altar, podium, chairs and platforms for the Ceremonial Cast use (Ritualistic Divan), and the equipment and stunts for the Second Section of the ritual. In addition they acquired vehicles and trailers for parade use, an English Ford Thames truck was remodeled into a wrecker, a WWII Jeep towed a four wheel trailer upon which had been installed seats under a cover this enabled the staff to ride in parades, and it also was a popular mode of transportation at the conventions. A model of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial and a model of the old Philadelphia Hospital were also part of the parade equipment. The model of the GW Memorial is still in use, as are the altar and podium. The Black Camel has claimed most of these original Staff members but their legacy will live on for years.
The Temple meetings were held at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial in the auditorium and the Directors Staff was charged with the responsibility of setting up the auditorium for the meetings, this included a portable sound system. The staff was also responsible for the storing of the required items, i.e. Altar, charter, Bible, Koran, robes for the Ceremonial Cast etc. Not having a building in which to hold the two ceremonials each year various high schools in the area were utilized. This entailed much work for the Staff as all the Ceremonial equipment as well as the Cast’s robes had to be transported to and set up at these locations. The novices were under control of the Staff, from check in, to having them in the parade, and to the completion of the Second section. Ceremonial day usually started for the Staff at 6am and would end after midnight when the last piece of equipment had put away. The Staff then ended a busy day by socializing. The Staff became quite familiar with the stages of the schools that were used, George Washington, Washington & Lee, Fairfax, Falls Church, Mt. Vernon, Hammond and Osborne High Schools. The Staff saw a need for a building to store all the equipment in one location and as the Temple had acquired a piece of property off Seminary Road and Pickett St. in Alexandria it was decided to build such a building, with their labor and financing they built a combination garage, storage room and a club room. This building was named the David C. Book building in honor of Ill. David C. Book, Potentate 1955, who had given much support for this project. In later years the Staff traveled to Winchester to put on Ceremonials at the Armory, Handley High School and the Holiday Inn, they also visited Leesburg to hold a Ceremonial. The first Ceremonial was held at the George Washington National Memorial, a parade in conjunction with this activity was held on King Street in downtown Alexandria. With the sale of the Seminary Road property the Staff was active in the building of the Anek at our current location. The wasted space on the second level of the Anek was converted into the Staff’s unit room. This project proceeded under the direction of Bob Kelley, Director, and is still the “Home of the Sizzling Sands”. In the past 50 years the following Nobles have served as Directors of the Staff:
*Ollie S. Mason ------- 1951-1953
*Ill. John R. Wigglesworth ------- 1954
**Bryan Dowling ------- 1955-1958, 1961-July 1962
*Ill. Austin J. Edison ------- 1959
Murray Ward ------- 1960
Ill. William A. Beverly ------- July 1962-1963
*Charles W. Fields ------- 1964
Robert A. Kelley ------- 1965-1974
Ill. William D. Smith ------- 1975-1983, 1991, 2000-2001
Harold D. Jones ------- 1984-1990
*Robert W. Cantrell ------- 1992, 1994-1195
Timothy J. Butcher ------- 1993
*Eugene A. Brown ------- 1996-1997, 1999
*Victor Tabares ------- 1998
*Deceased **Died at Imperial Session Toronto, Canada
The Directors Staff is honored to have had 5 of their members serve as Potentate of Kena Temple they are; Ill. Austin J. Edison 1967, Ill. John R. Wigglesworth 1969, Ill. William A. Beverly 1971, Ill. Gordon C. Thomson 1983, and Ill. William D. Smith 1988.
The Directors Staff is affiliated with the Shrine Directors Association of North America, known simply as the SDA. The SDA was formed in 1919 and was the first association to be recognized and sanctioned by the Imperial Council. The SDA was formed to assist the Directors Staffs in putting on save and clean Second Sections. In 1955, at the urging of the SDA, it was requested that all Temples adopt the name Directors Staff for the unit that put on the Second Section, the majority of Temples complied. A four-day convention is held in March or April each year. At these sessions all issues pertaining to the second session are discussed, and a preview of various stunts and a competition is held. It is not unusual for more than 100 stunts to be previewed and judged. These sessions are well attended by the Imperial Officers, Potentates and their Divans, Directors and their Staff members. Nobles Bob Kelley and Bill Smith were privileged to have served on the Board of Governors for the SDA. The 2002 convention will be hosted by Jamil Temple in Columbia S.C., April 23-27. All Nobles and their Ladies are invited to attend.
The Directors Staff is proud to have been an active and viable part of Kena Temple for the past 50 years, and will be there to carry on our great tradition for many, many more years.