Lodge celebrates 135th anniversary

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Western Star Lodge 9, one of the oldest Prince Hall Masonic Lodges in North Carolina, is celebrating its 135th anniversary on Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Salisbury Civic Center. The Worshipful Master is Jeffrey Carter, 32nd degree.
The theme is “Remembering the Past, Embracing the Future.” The keynote speaker is the Most Worshipful Grand Master Milton Frederick “Toby” Fitch Jr.
Fitch was born and reared in Wilson and graduated from Charles H. Darden High School. He graduated from North Carolina Central University, Durham, where he received his bachelor of science degree in 1969 and his juris doctorate in 1972 from N.C. Central University School of Law. He is the father of Melanie Fitch and Milton Fitch III.
He taught and coached football at N.C. Central University and Delaware State College. In 1975, he was admitted to the North Carolina Bar and the District of Columbia Bar.
Fitch has served the people of Wilson, Edgecombe and Nash counties and the state of North Carolina. He is a member and Master Mason of Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge 42 and a lifetime member of the NAACP.
He contributed to the Youth Enrichment Program, which allowed more than 500 children to be fed daily with the help of Hardees Corp. He was instrumental in getting children of Wilson County involved for the summer in the Upward Bound Program at Clark College, Atlanta.
He has served nine terms as a member of House of Representatives in North Carolina. He was the first African-American in North Carolina to preside over the house, the first majority whip and the first African-American to be elected house majority leader.
Fitch has served on various boards and commissions such as The Council of State Government Committee on Suggested State Legislation; Joint Selection State Health Insurance Committee; Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations; State Personnel Study Committee as the co-chairman; Advisory Budget Commission; Sub-Committee on Board of Awards; Court Case Disposition Committee; Workplace Safety Study Commission and others.
He has received several awards — the North Carolina AFL-CIO “A Friend of the Working People”; Youth for Social Change Award from Southerners; Community Service Award from North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers; Albert L. Turner Award from N.C. Central University; Legislator of the Year Award from N.C. Association of Education Office Personnel; and the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf Foundation.
Fitch was appointed superior court judge of District 7B in 2001.
He was first elected as the Most Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of North Carolina and Jurisdiction Inc. in 2003 and was re-elected in October.
After the banquet, Al Goodman, a local DJ, will provide the music for the social.
Tickets are available for $35 each. For additional information or to buy a ticket, call Jeff at 704-267-8292 or Al at 704-232-3193.