Cape man lauded for 65 years as a Mason
When Jack Fleming became a Mason in 1952, the vast majority of current Masons hadn’t even been born.
Last month, Fleming, 102, was sent to Orlando for the statewide meeting of the Masons to be honored for his long record to service to the group, one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the country.
The award is a testament to his personal longevity as well as a lifelong commitment to community service, something his fellow Freemasons know about quite well, as they brought him along for the annual communication so he could get the proper appreciation.
“Not many people can say they’ve done an endeavor for 65 years. It was great. When you get to my age, that’s something,” Fleming said.
Those who came were certainly impressed, giving Fleming multiple standing ovations.
“Somebody asked the Grandmaster how old I was. He asked me and I said I was 102, and they stood up and clapped again for me,” Fleming said.
Shawn Lane, an officer with the Cape Coral Lodge Post 367, said Fleming attends all the meetings and is as active as a 102-year-old person can be.
“The man is a wealth of knowledge, and it’s great to have somebody around who has seen so much change over the years,” Lane said. “He tells us how he learned it when he was coming through. He’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know.”
President Scott Peacock, who brought Fleming on the trip as something of a surprise, said the fact he’s functioning the way he is is remarkable enough. Even more remarkable is that of those in the upper echelons of the Masons, many were taken under his wing.
“When they presented him the 65-year award at the Grand Lodge, the man who gave the award to him was a past grandmaster for the state of Florida and is now grand secretary, Jack is the man who signed his petition,” Peacock said. “He has also mentored many grandmasters of Florida. That’s how influential he’s been. For Jack to have been a 65-year Mason is something that makes people step aside in amazement.”
Two years ago, when Fleming celebrated his 100th birthday, he was still able to drive himself to Publix, play pool and walk with the help of a cane.
Fleming said he doesn’t drive anymore, but he still plays poker on Tuesday nights and will play an occasional game of pool. He is still sharp as a tack and remains heavily involved in the Masons.
Fleming was born in New Jersey and moved to Miami with his family at age 10. He moved to Cape Coral in 1981 and has resided at Gulf Coast Village since 1998.
In Freemasonry, he holds the 33rd Past District Deputy Grand Master Degree, which was attained in 1971 through years of dedicated service at the Biscayne Bay lodge near Miami.
Two years ago, when asked why Freemasonry is so important, Fleming gave it much thought. Even after all these years, he didn’t really have an answer, saying simply, “We don’t brag about it.”
When asked about it again, Fleming said simply, “You’re absolutely right.”