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A Mason for nearly 60 years

Fergus Falls man, 98, was an active member since the 1960s

By Carol Stender

Editor’s note: Stan Morrill passed away on May 19, four days before this edition was sent to the press, and a couple months before his 99th birthday.

Stan Morrill, 98, was an active member of the Masons for most of his life. Photo by Carol Stender

A conversation with Stan Morrill is like reading an enthralling novel. There’s an interesting story at every turn. The Fergus Falls native will be 99 in July, and he has had plenty in his life in those 99 years.

Morrill is known throughout the community, but is especially well known in the Masons organization. He has been a member of the Corner Stone Lodge #99 for almost 60 years. The organization is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. That means he’s been a member for more than a third of the organization’s long-running existence.

But Morrill has been more than a member. He’s held a number of positions from the local, state, and national organizations.

While the Masons is the main body of the organization, there are a number of additional Masonic-affiliated organizations including the Shriners International, 32 degrees Scottish Rite Freemasonry, and York Rite.

Morrill has held a number of positions within the York Rite, including Grand High Priest of the Grand Chapter of Minnesota; The Grand Illustrious State Grand Council of Cryptic Masons of Minnesota, and he was the Grand Commander of the Knights Temple of Minnesota. He was also chair of finance of the International Grand Body.

He joined the organization in his 30s or 40s, he said. At the time, he was working for the City of Fergus Falls’ waterworks under Howard Sowden, the superintendent of waterworks, who made a positive impression on Morrill.

“He impressed me,” Morrill said. “He just did good things.”

Sowden was a mason and mentored Morrill when he joined the organization. It’s something he also did when others joined the Masons.

Left to Right: James A. Arvidson, Worshipful Master, Corner Stone Lodge #99; Stan Morrill, Worshipful Brother; Dayton Berg, Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Minnesota; Rusty Wolf, Past Master, Corner Stone Lodge #99. Photo by Carol Stender

“He was a mentor to the younger guys and with all things involved with the lodge,” said Rusty Wolf, Past Master of the Corner Stone Lodge #99. “He was like a father to us.”

The motto of the Masons is “Take good people and make them better.”

“I tried to do that,” Morrill said. “I tried to get better.”

Morrill was a member, for a brief time, of the Shriners - Birak, a group in Fergus Falls. He said he was so busy that he didn’t have the time to devote to the group like he wanted.

His involvement in the Masons stems from its focus on the three tenets of the organization— brotherly love, truth, and relief or concern for others. The Freemasonry is one of the oldest fraternal organizations in the world with its origins traced to the stonemasons and Cathedral builders of Medieval Times. The organization itself is around 300 years old.

Morrill has never shied away from involvement and work. In fact, he started working at 13. His father operated a road construction company, and Morrill took part in the jobs.

He graduated from Fergus Falls High School in June 1942, and then went to British Columbia in Canada to work on the Alaskan Highway.

“It was rugged,” he said.

Moving the equipment in place was a struggle.

“When we got done, we had a road,” he said. “It wasn’t a super highway, but it was a road.”

Once he finished working on that project, Morrill joined the Navy and served from October 1943 to 1945. All of his service was stateside, he said. He started at Camp Perry in Virginia, then at Camp Pendleton in California, and next to officer school in Rochester, New York.

Corner Stone Lodge #99 turned 150 years this year. Stan was in attendance at the celebration on April 29. Photo by Carol Stender

Morrill has been an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and worked on the Walk of Flags in Fergus Falls and the Disabled American Veterans (VFW).

Fergus Falls has always been home to Morrill. It’s where he operated his road construction company for 50 years. Through his work, and for pleasure, he has traveled to every state in the US except New Hampshire and Connecticut, he said.

He did take three years to work for the city of Fergus Falls, which is when he worked with and met Howard Sowden.

Morrill has been married three times. From his union with first wife, Rosalee, the couple had three children. After she died, he married again to Ellen. They had no children. She also passed away. His third wife is Ehillis. She has six children and, in total, he got a family of 45 including children, grandchildren, and more.

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