The Great Parade of the Nobles of Murat

In 1996, William S. Spyr, the 1988 Potentate of Murat Temple and later its Recorder, served as the president of the Great Lakes Shrine Association and, with the help of Larry Jefferson as Director General, brought the Great Lakes Convention of 21 Shrine temples to Indianapolis. Murat continues to be active in the Great Lakes Association and regularly attends the business session in February and the convention in September. Alex Rogers was Potentate that year and due to renovations occurring in the Egyptian Room, decided to hold his Potentate's Ball twice: once in the Columbia Club and later in the Egyptian Room.

1997 saw Robert Hancock as both Potentate and Deputy Grand Master of Masons in Indiana. Hancock was a tough man to slow down. He was everywhere telling the story of his beloved Masonry. Not one for the formal rituals, Hancock was known to jump in the air and click his heels while dressed in full regalia. Hancock was loved by many and when he passed away in 2008, he was accorded the honor of having the funeral at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. He appointed or sponsored so many Masons in so many Masonic organizations that those Masons sometimes refer to themselves as the Sons of Bob.

In 1998, Charles Griffith was elected Potentate but the Assistant Rabban, Thomas Mahorney, passed away earlier that month, and Griffith added two nobles to the Divan line: Barry Cook and Jeffery Zaring.

In 1999, Potentate Michael St. Pierre sought to bring the Grand Lodge, York Rite, and Scottish Rite closer together for the good of all Masonry. He also increased the dues $10, all of which is paid into a special fund managed to maintain and restore the temple. The circus also earned a record profit. John Cinotto's guidance as first vice president of the Shrine Circus Association of North America was also a great help. This was another good year for the nobles of Murat. After St. Pierre's good work to bring the appendant bodies in Indiana together, Imperial decided it would no longer require a candidate to be a member of the York or Scottish Rite before becoming a Shriner in 2000.

Gary Lewis, better known as "Bubba," made history in 2000 as the first Clown to become Potentate. His year was no laughing matter. Lewis became the first to take advantage of the new qualifications and worked out the "all the way in one day" concept. He recognized the changing nature of the American man's lifestyle. If the Shrine was to keep growing, it needed to adjust to the potential Shriner's schedule. Ritual, while enjoyable and meaningful, still might be contracted to a single day, with the Grand Lodge of Indiana agreeing a man could start his good work as a noble much more quickly and the Hospitals would benefit.

Shouts of "Hail Caesar" greeted the election of John Cinotto as Potentate in 2001. With his extensive experience as Building and Ground chairman and his years of service as circus director, John brought a wealth of experience to the job of leading our temple.

The Imperial Session was held at Las Vegas in 2001 and naturally the nobility of Murat stayed at Caesars! John would go on to be elected to the Imperial line and presently serves as Imperial High Priest and Prophet.

John Friend was Potentate in 2002 and travel and visitation were again priorities. The size of the temple's delegation to the Smoky Mountain Fun Fest increased considerably.

Edgar McGonigal was the first member of Murat to serve as Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Hospital, and Ed was elected Potentate for 2003. During Ed's year we had seven ceremonials, including a public one at the Chicago Hospital.

Barry Cook, Potentate in 2004, emphasized fun and fellowship. Lin and Bob Coner hosted a temple-wide party that year.

Jeffery P. Zaring, Potentate in 2005, would go on to serve as Grand Master of Masons in 2008–2009.

William H. Wimmenauer, 2006 Potentate, was the second Clown ("Odie") and was appointed to the Divan by the first Clown ("Bubba") in 2000. Bill was well received and by the end of the year, most of the nobles could correctly spell and pronounce his last name!

Jerry Markovich was Potentate in 2007. He was among the first to literally attend every event held during his year. Active in membership, Murat added more than 300 new members during 2007. We were saddened to lose Jerry as he passed to the Unseen Temple in July 2009.

In 2008, Ron Elliott, the always smiling firefighter, was extremely popular with the nobility. Elliott writes, "My year as Murat's Potentate was probably the most enjoyable year of my life. It was an honor to be the first from Murat's Firemen's Club to hold that title."

Our first Potentate, John Brush, was active in all areas of Masonry. Murat has been blessed with several such men. One hundred twenty-five years after Brush, George Proctor was elected to wear the Potentate's Fez and Jewel. He, like Brush, was a Mason's Mason. His list of Masonic credits was extensive in every area. He made Masonry his life and livelihood. George loved the history of our Oasis and decided the 125th year of Murat and 100th year of the Shrine Temple itself deserved a special occasion. He directed a public ceremonial, a Unit and Club Fair, and a parade escorting our newest candidates from the Scottish Rite Cathedral to Murat. June 6, 2009, was another great moment. It was the start of Masonic Week as declared by Governor Mitch Daniels. The week ended with a celebration of the 100th year of the Grand Lodge building at North and Illinois Streets.

There are rumors our temple is haunted. They are so persistent that several years ago a group of experts in the paranormal stayed all night in the temple to check those many reports. Footsteps, lights, conversations, and strange noises all had been reported. The most enduring moment revolves around the portrait of Potentate Jacoby. He has been seen several times with a tear in his eye. What possible meaning could this have? Some say he cries for the day the temple leased the theater and Egyptian Room. But that helped refurbish the grand old building and keep it alive even if it meant giving something up.

Is it possible Jake cries for all of us Shriners on this day 125 years later? Does he know the challenges we face to find new members? Does he worry for the Children's Hospitals? Let's think of Jacoby's tears as those of joy for all the good Murat has done and will do. The long line of men in their red Fezzes who have gone before are counting on us and the nobles yet to come. Jacoby is smiling through his tears of happiness. He knows Murat marches on in the great parade of the Shrine.

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