Shining in the Shrine
Bill Squires celebrates 35 years as Mazol Shriner
Sitting on an armchair in the middle of his living room, Bill Squires recalls some of the highlights of his time as a Shriner.
The 86-year-old from Sibley’s Cove was a founding member of the Trinity Conception Shrine Club in 1980, and has remained an active member ever since.
There are some 350,000 members in the Shrine in Canada, the United States, Mexico and the Republic of Panama, all of whom help fundraise to fund 22 Shriner’s Hospitals for Children, including one in Montreal.
Bill lives on his own on the main road of the Trinity Bay community. His brother lives next door.
Next to the chair where Bull sits is a couch, and many photos of family members line the walls. An organ piano sits in the middle of the living room, with a photo of his late wife Dorothy Squires on top. The photo was of the last time she played the instrument, Bill explains. He meant to learn how to play too, but life always seemed to get too busy.
Joining the Shrine
It was 1958 when Squires joined the Masonic Lodge, which is a stepping stone to becoming a Shriner. But after over 20 years as a member, Bill joined forces with half-a-dozen Lodge members and decided to incorporate a group to raise money for children with burns and orthopedic injuries.
There was no Masonic Temple in St. John’s back then, and all new groups in the province had to go to Halifax to register.
At that time, the Lodge members were meeting in Heart’s Content. They had a large following, but decided to reach out to Conception Bay to see if anyone would be interested in forming a group. So began the long-lasting tradition of meetings in Carbonear.
The group now has over 30 active members from all over the region, but many of Bill’s friends have since died. But he keeps his head high and pushes forward, still dedicating time whenever he can.
One of the biggest things that the group does is organize an RV park in Eastport. It is one of Bill’s favourite memories of being a Shriner.
“We had no money to bring equipment in,” Bill explained of the construc- tion of the park. “We used to do most of it with a pick and a shovel.”
It was strenuous, but many Shriners in the mid-1980s were physically active and did the work themselves. Now, most members are in their 60s and 70s.
The Harold W. Duffett Shriners RV Park opened in 1986, and Bill has visited almost every summer to check in, volunteer and offer assistance if needed.
After his wife died in 2012 and he experienced some health issues, and Bill took some time off from travelling with the Shriners, but he’ll head back to the park this summer.
The one thing he loves most of all about being a Shriner is the people he helped during his 35 years of dedication and hard work.
“It all about meeting people,” he says. “And, of course, the good feeling of helping children. I’ve really enjoyed it with the Shriners.”
Bill has helped raised funds to send children from all over the province to different hospitals, including a young girl from the Northern Peninsula who was told she’d never walk again.
“She went to Philadelphia for spinal cord treatment, and walked for her (high school) graduation,” he recalls. Most important thing Bill attends Lodge meetings in Heart’s Content and the Shriner’s meetings in Carbonear, but his pride in his family is what stands out most to him.
His daughter was on hand when he received a certificate late last month that is now mounted to his wall for a lifetime achievement with the Shrine club. He was surprised when the group made such a big deal out of it and wished more of his loved ones could have been there when he received it.
“I was too emotional to speak,” he said, noting his sister-in-law gave a toast to his years of dedicated volunteering.
As the reporter says her farewells, Bill pipes up, “Wait, I haven’t showed you my family.”
He walks her around the living room, pointing out his children and grandchildren. Each one has an interesting story of their own.
Bill proudly shares how one of his daughters is a pilot and points out her picture. He does the same with all the other photos.
A smile spreads across his face as he says thank you and leads the way to the door.
He briefly pauses to ensure that the reporter knows that Shriners are more than just volunteers.
“I worked hard and I enjoyed it,” Bill says. “It was interesting and there is always something on the go.”
Nobel William “Bill” Squires of Sibley’s Cove was honoured with a lifetime membership award from the Trinity Conception Shriners club late last month.