WB Bill Hosler - A tribute to our fallen friend and contributor & his very last unfinished installment of the 50 year member series

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners

Nothing can ever prepare you for the loss of a friend and colleague, especially when their death is so sudden.  There's not much more that I can add to all of the loving tributes to Bill Hosler. Bill impacted so many people and touched so many lives. He touched mine in so many profound ways. To say that I will miss him is an understatement. The hole that losing Bill has left in many of our lives will never be filled. We just have to find a way to cope.  

I consider myself blessed to have worked in the Masonic Quarries with Bill, and honored to be able to call him my friend.  I first started speaking with Bill shortly after I started writing for this blog in 2017.  At first, we may have been a mutual admiration society.  Later, when I started to be an editor of the blog, I would edit Bill's writings and give him feedback on some of his articles and we became collaborators.  When Greg Knott and I decided to start a podcast, after some of our early test recordings, we decided we needed another voice, and I thought immediately of Bill. 

It is through the podcast and the hours that Greg, Bill, and I would spend before and after each episode just having those deep, philosophical discussions where we would solve all of Freemasonry's problems, much like all Freemasons do in the parking lot before or after a lodge meeting, where I believe we formed a stronger bond. I am so happy that I was able to meet Bill in person.  At the beginning of August 2020, when it seemed that maybe the COVID pandemic was coming to an end, Bill visited Greg and I.  I was Worshipful Master of St. Joseph #970 AF&AM in Illinois for the second time.  It was an amazing evening, which Bill wrote about here: Virtual Friendship, Real Life Brotherhood.  I'm so happy to have that experience and the memories that go with it.  I'm also happy to have had the episodes of Meet, Act, and Part with Bill.  At some point when I'm able to listen to them without breaking down in tears, I know I can always hear his wonderful laugh, which was so unique, just like Bill was.  

The last time I communicated with Bill, I had called him to check in on him.  It went to voicemail, and he sent me a text the next day that he and Tammi were on a cruise and he was in the middle of the Atlantic. He told me he would be home last Tuesday. I replied and told him I would call him then, but as life often does, I became preoccupied with work and a busy Masonic week.  I had every intention of calling him last Friday, but on my way home this past Thursday from a stated meeting at the very same Lodge that Bill had visited us at, I received a text from Bill's lady, Tammi. It was coming from Bill's number, asking Greg or I to call her.  It seemed odd that she would be using Bill's phone. I braced myself for bad news, but I did not imagine it would be news of his passing.  I have been beating myself up that I didn't get that last conversation with him, but as our mutual friend Robert Johnson told me, I would probably be hurting even more (if that's possible) having had that conversation.

Bill recently had been working on another installment of his 50-year Member series, but he was having trouble with how he should end it.  I had been encouraging Bill to think about how he would end the series, and telling him that he needed to publish all of the series as a book.  Ironically, the last installment of the series would be entitled "Why?" That's how many of us feel regarding Bill's passing.  Bill and I had exchanged some ideas on how the below article would end, but I think it's appropriate to end it as suddenly as Bill left us. 

The 50 Year Member-Why?


Bill Hosler, PM

Pudge is sitting in the living room of the 50 Year member. He knocked on John’s door and as soon as the old man opened it he could see the look of anguish on his face. “Have you seen this?” Pudge asked as he handed his friend a piece of printed paper  Pudge had snatched from his printer in disgust. “Why? Can it be true?  It makes no sense to make.”

The old man placed his reading glasses on his nose and began to read what his friend had given him slowly.  “Honestly, I don’t know what to say. “ the 50-year member said in a very sad, some could say grief-stricken tone.  “It doesn’t make any sense.”

Pudge who was slowly sinking into the old man’s living room chair said “Why? It can’t be. He would have made a great Grand Master. He had so many good ideas to help the Fraternity thrive. All the guys were eager to support him and work with him. Now, it’s all gone”

Pudge was lamenting about an email sent to the membership to the membership of his Grand Lodge. The email stated that Randy Jones, a popular member and the  Deputy Grand Master had been expelled from the Fraternity over charges that he had abused his power and had committed conduct unbecoming a Mason. “It can’t be true. He wasn’t like that.” Pudge continued “Lots of guys I have talked to in our online group are really mad! They don’t believe these charges. Many of them are so mad they are talking about quitting and starting their own clandestine lodge!”  

The old man shook his head. “Starting another Grand Lodge makes as much sense as burning your house down because you saw a spider.”  “That is the last thing that should be done.”

The old man continued. “First we don’t know what is truly going on.  There is always a chance that the charges leveled at Randy could be true. We are on the outside looking in. I will admit that I have known Randy for a long time and that doesn’t sound like him.”

“Second. Let’s just say for a minute that the charges could be fake and Randy has been framed. It is plausible. I mean his aggressive new ideas for next year have some of the old guard on edge. The status quo will be gone and the elders will lose their power base and Masonry as they have known it for nearly three-quarters of a century will be gone. The change they have been scared of for so long will be here and the days of beating the drum for new members just to have the members quit a year later will be a thing of the past. Masonic education will be strong and the membership will learn the things they have been saying for years are not false or even worse a lie. With each new member is a potential vote against them.

That is my suggestion to you fellows. As the British said during the darkest hours of World War Two once said: “Keep calm and carry on.”  He continued “You and I both know you young fellows will be running things.   It has to be that way because old guys like me will be gone. Just like someday you guys will be replaced by the next generation. If you quit there will be no one left to try and fight for what you want and then Masonry will surely die. Not because of the old guys of today who won’t change but because your generation picked up their ball and went home. Encourage each other.  Work together. Stay active in Grand Lodge and vote for what you believe in. Just like in the real world if you don’t vote you let the few who did pick your destiny. If you know Brothers who have quit out of discouragement talk them into coming back. They will be needed. Every potential vote you can rally brings you closer to your goals.”

“Just remember one thing:  when times change, we both know they will not block the efforts of the young men who want to shape the craft. Remember how you feel right now."
Bill, I certainly do not want to remember how I feel right now.  I have lost you, my friend. This feeling sucks.  However, I will honor your wishes.  Much like the 50-year member tells Pudge that he can't quit, neither can we.  The best way I know to honor you is to continue to keep the Midnight Freemasons blog going and to keep recording Meet, Act, and Part.  Neither will be the same without you. As Bill ended his article regarding his visit to St. Joseph #970; I end this article. Much like the line in the Tyler's toast used in English festive boards ”Happy to meet, sorry to part, happy to meet again.”   My friend, I will be happy when we meet again in the lodge on high.  Until then, many of us will keep your memory alive.

Bill's Masonic accomplishments are many, and can be found here: Bill Hosler Obituary  Please keep his fiancĂ© Tammi and his family in your prayers. If you are able to, please join Greg Knott and I along with other Masonic friends of Bill at his Masonic rites this coming Saturday, June 15 at 2pm Eastern Time at the Lindenwood Cemetery Chapel in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’d like to be able to have as many Freemasons as possible show up for Bill. 


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