Masons, Eastern Star honors 4 pioneers

As they celebrated their 73rd anniversary, Brickyard Lodge #55 and Pilgrim Chapter #7 remembered four members who paved the way for the organizations.

Brickyard Lodge #55 of Blackville honored fellow Masons Curtis Stephens of Williston, Charlie Minus of Blackville and Emmitt Odom Sr. of Blackville. Gattie Thomas of Blackville was recognized by Pilgrim Chapter #7 (Order of the Eastern Star) of Blackville. All four died in the past year and were pioneer members of the lodge/chapter.

“Each one of these people served in this lodge/chapter for over 50 years and probably a combined experience of 300 years total for all,” said Eric Kirkland, the Worshipful Master for Brickyard Lodge #55.

Family members of all four honorees attended the 73rd St. John’s Day Anniversary Celebration on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Macedonia Baptist Church in Blackville. Each family received a framed certificate thanking their loved one for their wisdom and guidance, as well as the legacy they left behind that will be remembered for generations to come.

Pastor John Holston of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Blackville was the guest speaker for the service.

“We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on His word,” said Holston. “God is not finished with you yet.”

Charlie Minus

Minus grew up in Blackville but moved to New York after graduating high school. However, he later returned to Blackville where he was active in the community.

He was a member of many Masonic organizations. Minus was also active at Macedonia Baptist Church where he was named the trustee board’s Trustee Emeritus.

He died on Sept. 1, 2016.

Emmit Odom Sr.

Odom joined the U.S. Army after graduating high school and became a police officer at the Savannah River Site after his military retirement.

He served in the Army for 21 years and earned the rank of First Sergeant, a rank reserved for the top 3 percent of enlisted members. Odom earned many honors and awards during his years of service, including the Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars.

Odom was a long-time Mason and also was active in other civic organizations as well as at Shrub Branch Missionary Baptist Church.

He died on Oct. 27, 2016.

Curtis Stephens

Stephens was a U.S. Army veteran who served in the Korean War. He earned numerous awards, including a Korean Service medal with two Bronze Stars, Combat Infantry Badge, and National Defense Service Medal.

He returned home to Williston after two years and attended what is now Denmark Technical College to earn a degree in painting.

Stephens, who was a member of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, died on June 29, 2017.

“Each of these members served as models for the organization and left a legacy that will forever live in our hearts. We are all fortunate that God allowed us the opportunity to learn from each of them. Each one of them, in their own way, exhibited Godly qualities that have influenced each of us in this organization and this community,” said Kirkland of the three Masons who were honored.

Gattie S. Thomas

Thomas was the first female trustee at Macedonia Baptist Church and served as church clerk for more than 30 years.

She was involved in numerous organizations. Thomas was a dedicated member of Pilgrim Chapter #7 since the late 1960s when the chapter was under the leadership of her mother-in-law, Worthy Matron Callie P. Thomas. She later served as Worthy Matron and Grand Secretary.

Her husband, the late Charlie J. Thomas Sr., was a Mason with Brickyard Lodge #55.

Thomas died on April 21, 2017.

Sister Annie Jean Thomas, representing Pilgrim Chapter #7, said her aunt “was a woman that was loved, well known and respected by many during her walk in life.”