As I was preparing for my time in the East, I wondered why we seemed to know so little about the man for which our lodge was dedicated; other than the obvious: he was a Past Grand Master and former Mayor of Chicago. I began to dig and found that one person had become interested enough to write a book about DeWitt Clinton Cregier, Gloria. Gloria had a passion for storytelling. She had a knack for becoming attached to stories that had gone unheard, yet needed to be told. It was this story that would bring us together. Gloria was the youngest Grandchild of D.C. Cregier whose story had become lost in the one hundred some years since he’d passed. She would be disappointed in me if I told this story without sharing with you some of the amazing things that D.C. Cregier contributed to.
D.C. Cregier was so much more than a few titles. In the wake of the devastation of the Great Chicago Fire, he organized our Gentle Craft and established a fund to help displaced brethren and repair affected lodges. The fund had generated more than $90,000 in 3 months in 1872; An amount that would approach $3,000,000 in today’s dollars. Gloria would tell you that, “...her grandaddy helped fight the fire the night his house burned to the ground.” That is the sort of altruism we don’t often encounter in today’s world. Cregier is forever memorialized on Chicago’s landmark Water Tower, as the man who designed the city’s pumping system.
But I must remind you that my story is not (at least, entirely) about our Brother Cregier. His is a story for another time. I would not know D.C. Cregier nor have an ounce of passion for the telling of his works were it not for Gloria. It has been my supreme pleausre to serve the lodge which bears her grandfather’s name because of what our friendship has meant. When I visited her family a few weeks back, it was to say goodbye to my dear friend who had passed amidst the celebration and BBQs on Independence Day. Gloria’s family expressed gratitude for the light we provided to her near the end. That gratitude ought to remind each of us of our role in this life. I can never express what Gloria has done for me and, in turn, the Fraternity. I owe Gloria for sharing that passion for storytelling and I hope that some of her light will shine in every stone I contribute to Masonry.