ARTHUR WILLIAM COOLIDGE 1881-1952
Deputy Grand Master, 1941
Grand Master, 1944
Born at Woodfords, Maine, October 13, 1881
Died at Reading, Massachusetts, January 22, 1952
Most Worshipful Arthur William Coolidge was Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts from December 27, 1943, until December 27, 1944. Normally, our Grand Master accepts election for three consecutive years, and it was with great regret on the part of our Brethren, as well as of Brother Coolidge himself, that he served only one term. A critical situation had arisen politically in Massachusetts and there was an urgent demand that he become a candidate for President of the State Senate, to which he was elected. Later, he yielded to a call to public service and was elected Lieutenant Governor, serving during the years 1947 to 1949. He declined re-election as Grand Master in the belief that it would be unwise to hold that office while a candidate in a state-wide campaign for the Lieutenant Governorship. His Masonic advisors reluctantly conceded the wisdom of his decision.
Brother Coolidge was born at Woodfords, Maine, October 13, 1881, being a ninth generation descendant of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony and of John and Mary Coolidge, who helped found Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1630. He also traced his ancestry to a sister of Charles Bulfinch, who designed our present State House. He was a fifth cousin of President Calvin Coolidge, and resembled him in many ways; both had a rugged character and sense of duty to serve their fellows.
Brother Coolidge was educated in the public schools of Deering, Maine; Westbrook Seminary ; Tufts College (A. B. 1903); and the Law School of Harvard University (LL.B. 1906). Thereafter, he practised law all his life, but devoted much time to altruistic and public service as follows:
- Member Finance Commission, Norwood, Mass., 1920-1925
- Member School Committee, Reading, Mass., 1927-1937
- Representative, Massachusetts Legislature, 18th Middlesex District, 1937-1940
- Senator, Massachusetts Senate, 7th Middlesex District, 1941-1946
- President of Massachusetts Senate, 1945-1946 (elected on the first ballot, an unprecedented distinction)
- Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts. 1947-1949
- Candidate for Republican Governor in 1950, but defeated
He was a member of the Massachusetts State Guard, Company H, 13th Regiment; Director Washingtonian Hospitai and the Massachusetts Tuberculosis League; Member Massachusetts, Middlesex and American Bar Associations, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston, Mayflower Descendants and Theta Delta Chi; Director of the Reading Co-operative Bank; Trustee and member of the Investment Board of the Boston penny Savings Bank; and former Treasurer of the Massachusetts Sunday School Association.
Brother Coolidge's Masonic record is as follows:
- Raised in Zetland, Lodge, A.F. & A.M., November 13, 1902, and became a member of The Harvard Lodge of Cambridge on February 17, 1927
- Worshipful Master in 1925-26
- Trustee, Permanent Fund, 1930
- District Deputy Grand Master, Boston Second District, 1927-28
- Deputy Grand Master, 1941
- Most Worshipful Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, 1943-44
Brother Coolidge was respected by all men who knew him, even by his political adversaries. He was a pure and upright man who put altruistic service above his own personal gain. Moreover, he was a friendly man among men, a sound adviser and a revered leader against whose life and character there was never adverse criticism.
Our beloved Brother was at his law office as usual the day of his death, and drove home. After dinner, he went to the garden at the rear of the house. When he failed to return, Mrs. Coolidge found him lying on the doorstep, and shortly thereafter. a medical examine-r pronounced death due to a coronary occlusion. Funeral services were held at the Reading Unitarian Church on Friday, January 25, 1952, of which Church he was a Trustee.
Brother Coolidge is survived by his wife and three children: Mrs. Dorothy B. Cox of Malden, Robert T, Coolidge, architect and member of the faculty of Yale School of Fine Arts, and Arthur W. Coolidge, Jr., of Schenectady, New York, an elecrricai engineer with the General Electric Company.
"Some must be great; great offices will have
Great talents. And God gives to every man
The virtue, temper understanding, taste
That lifts him into life, and lets him fall
Just in the niche he was ordained to fill."
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1940
From Proceedings, Page 1940-414:
Most Worshipful Grand Master, very distinguished guests of this evening. Brethren in Masonry:
I am very glad to have the occasion to thank you, Most Worshipful Sir, for the honor you have conferred on me in allowing me a share in your official family for the coming year. I know that the Lodges of which I am a member, Zetland and The Harvard Lodge, will probably appreciate that distinction far more than possibly the rest of you do.
This morning I was in one of the District Courts and a matter dragged out to some length. I finally thought that I would be in the same position as Most Worshipful Bro. Hagaman, from New Jersey, and that I should miss the chance to come here tonight. As it closed and then another matter came up, the clerk in a most serious manner beckoned me up to the desk, and said, in what was a very pronounced stage whisper, "The Judge says you are a very good shortstop.” That was not Judge Zottoli at all. It was questionable what he meant, but it seems about thirty years ago I was playing on the same baseball team that he was, in college. That is a long time back.
But in approaching this position, when you notice such serious defects as will be obvious, I will ask you to just nudge your neighbor and say to him in as pronounced a stage whisper as you can, "Somebody says that he is a good shortstop.”Whatever ability and whatever industry and whatever willingness I have, I pledge entirely, sir, to your official family this year, and I might say, speaking to you directly in the presence of all these Brethren, so that they may know the worst, “Wheresoever thou goest for this coming year, I will go. Thy country shall be my country and thy friends my friends,” if they will have me.
To all of you I would like to say a word of this man who is the new incoming Grand Master. There is a problem before Masonry. There has been for the last few years, and there will be in the coming year, a problem for which any organization such as ours needs the sanest type of leadership, and sanity and peace and of wisdom, and that saving sense of humor, which slides over the unfortunate incidents which may come up and makes of them a happy occasion.
Such, I know, is your choice for a new Grand Master, and as he is my Grand Master, I am reminded of a small boy who lives on my street. He owns a dog. Most every boy does own a dog. Some aspersions were cast on his dog, and he broke out with indignant loyalty, “Somebody said that the next-door dog to mine was just the same. The ears, the eyes, the nose and tail and spots are just the same in the daytime or in the dark. But not for a million dollars down or for fifty more would I swap my little dog for the little dog next door. He may look just same to you; he may be just as fine, but the next door dog is the next door dog and mine is mine."
So all these Past Grand Masters, these six Past Grand Masters, some of whom I have looked up to, literally, for years. Most Worshipful Bro. Johnson preceded me in college by just that period that made him the natural object of hero worship. Then I physically looked up to him, because for about two years he occupied offices two stories higher in the same building. All of these Past Grand Masters I have known and respected and honored and called my own. But when I compare them, not to the little dog next door, but when I speak of our present Grand Master in the pride of possession as my Grand Master, I know they will have no offense. I know they will share in the sentiment when I say that although I appraise them all at over fifty million, not for that sum or any other sum would I swap myGrand Master for any other Grand Master. Thank you!
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1947
From Proceedings, Page 1947-484:
Most Worshipful Grand Master and these distinguished guests with whom I have been hobnobbing as though they were ordinary individuals. Brother Fred Willis is an associate of mine.
The Governor found it was impossible for him to come tonight and delegated me to represent him. In the first place, he is a splendid boss to work for. That insured my getting in here — otherwise I might not have succeeded in making the grade.
I think some of the visiting Brothers know that the ceremonies which they saw exemplified today are the same under which John Rowe was installed as Grand Master in 1768, and he was followed by Henry Price. So these events and this historical procession which you saw today, some of you for the first time, have come down accurately from those times.
John Rowe, I am interested to speak a word about tonight, because he represents the same position I am in. He straddled two positions, representing both the city government and the Masonic Fraternity. He was not only a member of a Lodge, but Grand Master of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. He was also interested in the city life of his time. He was a Selectman of the Town of Boston. He was a representative in the General Court for the Town of Boston. He was a successful merchant. He was the owner of a fleet of vessels which plied a successful trade between here and the West Indies.
As an official of the City of Boston and the State, he presided at the first meeting in the Old South Church and expressed indignation and protest against taxation without representation.
He was the owner of the sloop Arabelle, which was loaded with tea. After closing the meeting with strict formality, he left and joined some of the others down on State Street and then joined the "Indians" who staged the Boston Tea Party. I am giving that to you as an illustration that civic activity and Masonic activity can be joined successfully in the same person.
Sometimes we who hold public office have rather intense action. I had occasion to attend a convention at the New Ocean House in Swampscott and the manager gave me a room in which to change my clothes. I did it in a very few minutes, and on the table beside me I saw a Gideon Bible. On the fly leaf there was this interesting reading: "If you are away from home, read Moses. If you are despondent, read the Psalms. If you are lonesome read about Joseph." Underneath these words some one had written: "If you are still lonesome, call Lynn- —."
For one who has to appear before all sorts of audiences, you don't know what a comfort it is to be able to look around and see that you do not need to be lonesome. You do not even have to telephone home. That is one of the reasons I am delighted to be here tonight.
I do feel when I think of Paul Revere and the work which he did that the civic activity is not all in the past. It is never in the past. There are new heights that can be reached by any one who has the strength and determination to reach them.
I remember in 1944, on the evening before Washington's Birthday, a meeting of the Grand Masters of the country was being held in Washington. There was a dinner at which Grand Masters from all over the country were present. There were three unintroduced guests. They were General Marshall, Admiral King and General Arnold. They were there incognito, and as you looked at those men, you could sense the burden they were carrying — General Marshall, in whose lap was placed the burden of creating an army from boys and girls, clerks and stenographers and people from every walk in life; Admiral King, who was handed the problem of literally creating after the disaster at Pearl Harbor a bridge of boats which would actually span the seven seas; General Arnold, holding an umbrella against the events which would cast a shadow over the world. Those men were enjoying the relief of getting away for a minute from those pressing duties, and as you saw them and sensed the atmosphere of certainty and confidence that they radiated, you realized that there was a conjunction of Masonic and civic activity operating in those individuals. So they carried on and the millions under them carried on successfully the great duties and responsibilities of war.
The golden age is never done; it is still before us, and the golden age is for us, if we can visualize it — if we build for peace, for freedom and for stable government. We can live in the golden age if we combine those factors, as did the great Masons whom we have known through the years.
Last summer in Cincinnati, at the meeting of the Supreme Council, Most Worshipful Brother Johnson thrilled the country by his message that Masonic activity might properly consider these problems of civic activity also, on the same basis and where they paralleled, to the same advantage to the government as ever.
Masonry needs, in order to be active and strong, the parade ground which government is giving, on which it can exercise and develop its ideas, its conceptions and its vision and continue in this dual capacity. Government needs the strong moral uplift which Masonry can give it, not acting as Masons, but as citizens.
So in the dual capacity of a former officer of this Grand Lodge and representing the Governor here tonight, I bring to this administration of this ancient institution the greetings of the Governor, and to you whose opportunity is before you to sense and realize and to reach the golden age with that same vision as this little poem which is on the back of your program represents, that we will work under one God, Whose glorious name we love and praise, through united Brotherhood, for united peace.
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1948
From Proceedings, Page 1948-266:
Most Worshipful Grand Master, Distinguished Guests and Brother Masons filling this hall:
At the meeting this afternoon, M.W. Brother Mills of Illinois told us his reasons for coming to this jurisdiction. There was one unpublicized reason. It was to bring the Christmas greetings from R. W. Richard Yates Rowe, who was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor in Illinois in the recent election. It was in the form of a Christmas card. There is pictured the G. O. P. elephant and he is speaking. I quote: "I'm sending this note to tell you that the New Deal has taken away all the things I really needed — my workshop, my reindeers, my sleigh. Now I'm making my rounds on a donkey. He's old and crippled and slow ■— so you'll know if I don't see you on Christmas, I'm out on my ass in the snow."
I am quoting this — not for its lofty sentiment or the elegance of its diction — but it seems a tactful way of letting our visitors know what all of you in Massachusetts already know — that I, too, was a candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and that I also ran. The Grand Master spoke of the brevity of my term as Grand Master. That was true also of my term as Lieutenant Governor.
I wonder if you remember the Old Home Week Celebrations. They were first started in Jonesport. There it opened with a meeting in the Town Hall. Visiting and local celebrities were seated on the platform — among them Captain Jones. Captain Jones was a man of action, not words. He could speak most emphatically on the bridge of his ship — speak so that every sailor could understand what he meant, but when he stood up before the crowded hall, he felt embarrassed. He said, "My education has not fitted me to give a proper greeting to all the visitors here today. I only had three days schooling in all my life. The first day it snowed and there was no school. The second day the teacher was sick and school closed. The third day, I played hooky."
The chief speaker that day was a professor — not our new Junior Grand Warden Brother Neal. The professor chose for his subject, "The Effect of Grecian Art on the Fishermen of New England," and he spoke for a long, long time. The audience became restless and finally an old sea captain leaned over and whispered quite audibly to Captain Jones, "I see this fellow has some letters after his name: B.S., M.S., Ph.D. What do those letters stand for?"
Captain Jones answered, also quite audibly, "B. S. means just what you think it means. M. S. means more of the same, and Ph. D. means piled high and deep." So there are dangers of being too brief and dangers of being too long. There is a middle road which is always safe.
Speaking as a representative of the State, and by that I mean a political unit — whether it is the United Nations, the Federal government of which Senator Saltonstall is such a fine exponent, or whether it is the State, or even a town or city — there are certain things the public requires from its citizens.
Away back when the facts of history were first emerging from the mists of tradition, we learn that it was in the heart of David, King of Israel, to build a temple to the Most High God. That was the beginning of Masonry — the urge to create something which did not exist before, or to make better what had previously existed.
If you run down the pages of history, you will find that in every crisis, that element — the urge to build — has carried the world forward to loftier and loftier planes.
And so, representing the State and speaking to men who have that background and that training which Masonry gives, I emphasize two things which the State expects of its citizens. The first is that any holder of an elective office is entitled to fair treatment. I have been struck by the readiness of certain commentators and certain newspapers to assassinate the character of the holder of public office. There should be a presumption of his honesty, his sincerity and his public interest, and unless we accord an office-holder such treatment, no one will be willing to accept a public trust. I urge that we accord all office-holders that fairness which we would wish to receive. We believe in creating, not destroying; we believe in the dignity of the individual. When an office-holder has proved to be unworthy of his public trust, then is the time that he should be denied further opportunity to hold public office.
Wholly aside from personalities are questions of policy, procedure and legislation. Those are controversial. There are two sides to every such question, and on them every citizen should take a stand — a creative stand, I hope, to build something better than existed before. That element, that urge, enters into every bit of legislation that may be put into law — is a factor in the settlement of every public question. There is the great field of influence for men of this background and this training — men who should always back with voice and action the creative side of legislation and government. There is no group in society better equipped to supply this leaven in public affairs.
There is a dangerous and threatening wave sweeping over the world. Some call it statism — some call it totalitarianism. It takes different forms in different lands. In this country it is Communism, a system which would overthrow our government by force.
When you come to a conflict of different ideologies such as this, between democratic liberalism and undemocratic paternalism, men with your background can have no choice but to ardently and sincerely support their government. Men with your training instinctively resolve not to destroy this Government and all that the free enterprise system has created, but to build it better and stronger.
Speaking for the State, that is the field where you can make your influence felt, and that is where you can exercise your creative genius — the urge to build—and thus make the world better for our having been here.