TRUE
FRIENDSHIPS

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16_TrueFriends

Establishing enduring friendships between brothers of different ages, backgrounds, and life experiences, is one of the defining characteristics of membership in Freemasonry. Meet some of the brothers whose lives have been enriched by truly meaningful friendships.

MIKE, RICHARD & NATE

Santa Rosa Luther Burbank Lodge No. 57

Mike Vorhees, Richard Dunlap, and Nathan Lee (left to right) exemplify
intergenerational masonic friendships.

Masonry creates strong friendships between men who might not otherwise have an opportunity to meet. But once these relationships develop, brothers oftentimes find that their passions within and outside the fraternity are deeply aligned. Such is the case at Santa Rosa Luther Burbank Lodge No. 57, where deep intergenerational friendships have blossomed between three similarly focused men. 

Although Richard Dunlap and Nathan “Nate” Lee are more than 40 years younger than Michael “Mike” Vorhees, the friends can often be found taking scenic motorcycle trips up the coast, relaxing at Vorhees’ cabin in Redding, or gathering around the Thanksgiving table. “Mike is the same age as my own dad, yet he’s more like a brother than a father,” says Lee. “None of this,” says Vorhees, “would have happened without Freemasonry!”

JUSTIN & BOB

Liberal Arts Lodge No. 677

Friends Justin Daza-Ritchie (left) and bob ruvelson (right) have bonded over their mutual respect and deep commitment to masonry.

Justin Daza-Ritchie and Bob Ruvelson met in 2003 when Ruvelson, then a sojourner, received his 50-year pin from Liberal Arts Lodge No. 677 in Los Angeles. Now a member of Liberal Arts Lodge, Golden Veteran Ruvelson is about  to turn 89. He has been a Master Mason for 66 years and a DeMolay for 72. His friend and brother, two-time past master Daza-Ritchie, has been a Master Mason for 20 years and a DeMolay for 29. Today, they work side by side to mentor their brothers and strengthen their lodge. They enjoy a deep friendship rooted in their Masonic values and based on unwavering internal compasses that inspire a profound mutual respect.

“We both ascribe to the same fundamental values, and that gave us a strong connection to begin with,” says Ruvelson. “We’re on the same wavelength on a lot of things, and we work very well together.” “I think that our shared, can-do spirit, or must-do spirit, is what put us to work so closely together all these years,” says Daza-Ritchie. “We’re both doers. As a result, we seem to always end up at the same table.”

MURIITHI & MARK

Stanley Y. Beverly Lodge No. 108, Irvine Valley Lodge No. 671

The friendship between Kjell Bomark-Noel (left) and Bob Schwartz (right) involves a shared understanding and robust sense of humor.

From the moment Muriithi Alafia and Mark Pressey met in a San Diego airport in 2000, their friendship has been special. Alafia, today a Prince Hall Mason, credits Pressey with introducing him to the fraternity during a chance conversation while waiting for a flight – and during the flight, and afterwards.

It took Alafia a few years after this encounter to enter the fraternity, but when he finally did, he invited Pressey, who eagerly greeted him as a brother. “When I was able to see again, the first person I saw in the room was Mark,” Alafia says. “Man, it was an emotional moment for me.” The new friendship had been cemented

“Muriithi is the type of person I would hope that all Masons aspire to be,” says Pressey. “Ever since he shook my hand that day in the airport, I’ve seen Mark as a mentor. He builds me up,” Alafia says. “He’s the type of guy who’s courageous about doing what’s right. When he walked up to me, it was like he was on a mission – he was determined to make a connection.”

PHOTO CREDIT: Jenny Pfeiffer (left and top right) and Lauren Randolph (bottom right)

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