Shin­ing in the Shrine

Bill Squires cel­e­brates 35 years as Ma­zol Shriner

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Melissa.Jenk­ins@tc.tc MILE­STONE BY MELISSA JENK­INS

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.

Dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties

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.”

PHOTO BY MELISSA JENK­INS/THE COMPASS

No­bel Wil­liam “Bill” Squires of Sibley’s Cove was hon­oured with a life­time membership award from the Trinity Con­cep­tion Shriners club late last month.

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