The Dads & Daughters Issue

#GirlDads

HOW FREEMASONRY DEEPENS THE SACRED
CONNECTION BETWEEN A FATHER AND DAUGHTER.

By Ian A. Stewart

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It’s well established that Masonry provides fathers and sons with a bond that’s often passed down multiple generations, providing both a literal and spiritual link across the ages. And yet, the lessons of Freemasonry aren’t confined to a paternal lineage. In fact, for some, they take their full bloom when applied to the complex, delicate, and profound connection between a father and daughter. “It’s about unconditional love,” says Past Grand Master R. Stephen Doan. “It’s an incredibly tough thing for men to express. It goes against all understanding of masculinity to make yourself that vulnerable.” And yet it’s precisely by practicing that kind of empathy that Masonic dads are able to connect with daughters who—let’s be honest—are often going through experiences that men will never fully understand.

That’s why here, inspired by the 100th anniversary of Job’s Daughters International and Freemasonry’s connection to the young women’s order, we’re proud to celebrate some of the many, diverse ways that Freemasonry illuminates the fraught business of raising strong, independent, powerful girls.

Giving Back

Daughter: Gianna
Dad: Sean Mantucca

When Sean Mantucca and his wife, Devon, were pregnant with their second daughter, they were hit with a life-altering piece of news: Their child would be born with a congenital abnormality. As it turns out, Mantucca’s life was changed. For the better.

Shortly after the birth of Gianna, whose left leg would need to be amputated, the family was referred to Shriner’s Hospital, which specializes in treating pediatric abnormalities free of cost. “We were young parents, still financially trying to find our way,” Mantucca says. “Having the Shrine deliver these services at no cost, it took a huge burden off our family and allowed us to focus on what was best for our daughter, versus what we could afford.”

Doctors at the hospital performed the amputation when Gianna was 15 months old, helped her through physical therapy, and fitted her for a prosthetic, which is adjusted every three months. Now 12, Gianna is “a little spitfire,” according to Mantucca. Along with her sister, Sophia (14), and brother, Matthew (9), she plays softball, goes skiing, and bikes.

Grateful for the service they received at the Shriner’s Hospital and intrigued by the organization behind it, Mantucca joined Irvine Valley No. 671 in 2011, which he served as master of in 2016. He also became deeply engaged in the Shrine, where he now serves on the board of governors for the Shrine Medical Center in Pasadena, which opened in 2017.

Beyond giving him a way to pay it forward, Freemasonry has provided Mantucca with a worldview that’s informed his approach to parenting. “I try to live by the three principal tenets: love, relief, and truth,” he says. “What you realize if you have multiple kids is that each one is completely different, regardless of any disability. You have to move with them at their own pace.”

Ceremonials

Daughter: Sophie
Dad: Andy Brannan

Escorting a daughter down the aisle is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for any father. For Andy Brannan, it involved a little role reversal: His unforgettable moment came as his daughter, Sophie, walked him down the aisle.

Brannan was being installed as a grand officer with Job’s Daughters, which Sophie had participated in since she was 10 and which Brannan began volunteering with a few years later. By the time Brannan had risen through the adult ranks of the organization, Sophie was a past honored queen of Auburn Bethel No. 148, making her responsible for escorting him to the altar. At the end of the event, the Job’s Daughters and adult guardians performed the ceremony of the closing cross—and, by chance, father and daughter ended up stationed directly in front of one another. “That was really cool for me,” Sophie says. “A real proud moment.”

That feeling of pride went both ways. For Brannan, the event was a significant milestone on a journey that he and Sophie had taken together. Sophie, now 20, continues to serve as a majority member of Job’s Daughters while going to school at Sierra College in the pre-nursing program.

Beyond giving father and daughter a reason to spend time together, Brannan, a member of Eureka No. 16, says that their shared experience in Job’s Daughters gave them a language with which to discuss woolly concepts like leadership and self-improvement. Watching Sophie rise through the officer’s stations to honored queen—and accepting the burdens of fundraising, organizing, and memorizing the ritual that come with the position—showed Brannan just how capable his daughter really was. “I realized some of my views of my daughter were based on who she was when she was younger,” Brannan says. “I got to see a side of her I might never have been able to see.”

The Family Business

Daughter: Stephanie Bezner
Dad: R. Stephen Doan, PGM

The first job Stephanie Bezner landed after law school was grueling: long hours, an overwhelming workload, and plenty of cause for self-doubt. But she stuck with it, because she had a good boss at her back. One with a vested interest in her future. It was, of course, her dad.

That was a dozen years ago. Today, Stephanie is a partner in the Law Offices of Doan-Bezner, alongside her father, Past Grand Master R. Stephen Doan. It’s a continuation of what’s been a lifelong blending of business and family for the Doans.

Masonry has always played a crucial role in family life, Stephanie says. “It was absolutely manifested in the way I grew up. Dad could have been a different kind of lawyer, but he wanted to be home every night so we could have dinner together. He brought us to events, stood up for us, and encouraged us to speak up.”

As Stephanie grew into her practice, she modeled her career on similar values. Now father and daughter are proud to point to clients who have been with the family for decades—testament to the value of interpersonal relationships.

“Seeing that, it made it difficult for me to ever want to take any other path,” Stephanie says. “It gave me a different picture of what success can look like. I have so much now. And I have two lovely girls I get to see frequently because I’m my own boss.”

The Inheritance

Daughter: Vana Zakarian
Dad: Gerard Shirikjian

Gerard Shirikjian says jewelry runs in his blood. He isn’t kidding: Shirikjian, a past master of Wisdom Lodge No. 202, is a fifth-generation jeweler, having started at age 10 as an apprentice in Lebanon. But the sixth generation of Shirikjian jeweler proves it’s not just a Y-chromosome trait.

Shirikjian’s daughter, Vana, now runs her father’s shop, Gerard Leon Fine Jewelry, with her brother, Vatche. It’s been a long time coming for Vana, who grew up tagging along with her dad to work, watching him create custom designs and engravings. In high school, she worked part-time in the shop, and after college, she threw herself into it headlong. “I realized this was going to be my home,” she says.

As she honed her craft, Vana found herself playing off her father’s talents. “My work complements his,” she says. Where Shirikjian’s ring and pendant designs are traditionally ornate, Vana favors a more modern look characterized by clean lines. “That’s become our niche,” she says. “It’s that old-world flair with a modernized touch.”

Vana’s also helped evolve the business, introducing new technology into what had been a very handmade pursuit. The result has been a popular among California Masons. Since the 1980s, Shirikjian has had a sizeable clientele interested in Masonic rings, pins, and other pieces. He’s designed rings for several past lodge masters and Past Grand Masters—a portfolio that Vana, a past honored queen with Job’s Daughters, and Vatche, also a member of Wisdom No. 202, certainly appreciate. “I’m so blessed to be able to take the next step now,” Vana says. “There’s a responsibility there to make my father proud. Every time I deliver a piece, it has a little bit of my heart and soul in it. They’re all little babies of mine out in the world.”

The Life of the Party

Daughter: Ixchel & Sofia
Dad: Art Salazar

By the time they reached adolescence, Ixchel and Sofia Salazar were plenty familiar with big, elaborate parties. After all, each year since they were kids they’d attended the grand master’s gala at Annual Communication as guests of their dad, Grand Treasurer Art Salazar. So when it came time to plan each of their quinceañeras, Salazar knew he’d have to go big to make the event unforgettable.

Dad stepped up.

At Ixchel’s party, Salazar riffed on her favorite movie, Beauty and the Beast. During the traditional father-daughter waltz, he donned a furry Beast mask, presenting his eldest daughter to the guests in character, bringing down the house. When Sofia had her party, in January 2020, “She told me not to buy a mask,” Salazar recalls with a laugh. Instead, they spent weeks choreographing a dance to the Temptations’ “My Girl.”

For Salazar, of Irvine Valley No. 671, San Francisco No. 120, and The Thirty-Three (U.D.), both events were in keeping with a parenting philosophy that emphasizes approaching his daughters’ interests with genuine zeal—and not being above stumping for a laugh. “With a daughter, it’s OK to play dress up and play dolls, and it’s also OK to go outside and get dirty playing sports,” he says. Kids change constantly, and their passions evolve. “You have to enjoy every stage on its own merit.”

That’s an outlook shaped in no small part by Freemasonry, Salazar explains, which helped him learn to step back, listen, and reserve judgement. When his daughters (who are now 18 and 15) reached high school, he resolved to let them make their own decisions about how to spend their time: One decided to focus on her soccer team; the other wanted to stick with her Rainbow for Girls assembly, which required a significant time investment. The decision was theirs, Salazar says, so long as they thought it through. “Masonry taught me not to always feel compelled to try to solve somebody’s problem for them,” Salazar says, ”but to ask more questions and help guide them to find their own answer.”

ILLUSTRATION CREDIT:
Chen Design Associates

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