W Bro. Ken Watson, PPJGW

Published on 25 September 2020 at 19:16

Ken was born in August 1931 in Ryton, just south of the Tyne before moving to Heaton a few years later. 

He went to the Heaton Grammar School, leaving in 1948 to follow a career building on his love of chemistry. 

He took a position at Timothy White and Taylor's drug company in Newcastle until his National Service in the RAF from 1950 to 1952, serving as a radar engineer at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. 

Returning to the North East, Ken joined Thomas Hedley and Company, part of Proctor and Gamble, working as a chemist in the soap formulation team. 

Ken's parents were Methodists, and he attended his local church where, on an inter-church competition he first met his wife to be, Betty. They married in 1956. 

In December 1958 Ken was initiated in Wallsend Lodge No. 2703 having been proposed by his father-in-law, a Past Master of the Lodge. 

Ken threw himself into Freemasonry as he did his other interests and was a regular performer, singing with his close Masonic colleagues at Festive Boards and Ladies Festivals around Newcastle and the north-east. 

From 1959 to 1965 the family grew with the addition of sons David, Richard and Andrew and 1973 saw the family move to Sheffield where Ken and Betty again threw themselves into an active social life. 

Ken became a cub leader at the 20th Sheffield Ecclesall Group, helping to organise meetings, camps and joining in the Group gang show produced of course by Betty! 

He went on to join Sheffield Teachers and Croft House operatic societies and Sheffield's Masonic Choir and was frequently "poached" by other societies to fill-in roles he was perfect for, including in his favourite, 'Guys and Dolls'. 

Ken joined St Philip's Lodge No. 7116 in Sheffield in 1978 having been introduced by Vernon Haw, a fellow local Scout Leader, a Past Master and Preceptor. Seven years later Ken became Master of the Lodge, taking that position again in 1992 and making lifelong friendships with other Masters and their wives in both years that survived to the end of their lives. 

Retiring in 1996 life seemed to get even busier as Ken expanded his interests in performing and became Preceptor at St Philip's before being promoted to PPJGW having been responsible for helping many a member to make their way safely through their year in the chair. 

The high standard of ritual for which the Lodge is still renowned owes much to Ken's diligent and encouraging approach. Having suffered from COPD for some years, Ken eventually found himself on permanent oxygen, and this began to severely limit his attendance at meetings. 

Despite his illness, Ken kept a keen interest in Lodge matters and retained his membership. 

Two years ago, at the age of 87, arrangements were made to present Ken with a certificate to commemorate his 60 years in Freemasonry. There were concerns about how Ken, now only able to leave home in a wheelchair and with the aid of portable oxygen, would manage an interview-style presentation. We need not have worried. He took centre stage and held everyone's rapt attention for 45 minutes as he told stories of his life in general and his experiences in Masonry. A born performer, his eyes glistened, and he enjoyed every moment! 

Ken was also an active Royal Arch Mason, having been Exalted in Tyne Chapter No. 991 in 1968 before joining St Philip's Chapter in 1985 until his health forced him to retire in 2014. 

Ken was a kind and compassionate man. A man of high standards to which he held himself and those around him. It was important to Ken that things were done properly, but any rebuke to others was always followed by a smile and friendly advice about how to do it right next time.  He was never a spectator but always wanted to get involved and improve things, and he always wanted to share the pleasure he got from his passions with those he knew. His enthusiasm and energy were infectious, and he was a major recruiter for St Philip's Lodge with many of our current and past members owing their joining to Ken's encouragement. 

Ken passed to the Grand Lodge above after a short illness on 6th November to join his lifelong love, Betty. Ken epitomised the phrase, "if you want something doing, ask a busy man". A full life, well-lived alongside his beloved Betty and in the company of his family, his brethren and his friends. There is no doubt that the impact Ken made on the lives of so many will live on as treasured memories in our hearts as his lasting legacy.