Bishop Frederic W. Keator

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Bishop Frederic W. Keator 33˚
Bishop Frederic W. Keator 33˚ of Tacoma, WA (From the Lou B. Winsor Photo Collection of the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library)

An Episcopal Bishop from Washington State who was very active in Masonic circles. He was one of the lead members of Shrine Imperial and instrumental in establishing what would become the Shriners Hospitals for children.

The Following is excerpted from the America Biography (

Rt. Rev. Frederic William Keator, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Olympia. A churchman whose sympathies were broader than denominations, whose interests extended into all channels where men strive for better, higher things, and whose influence counted heavily in civic, fraternal, and philanthropic work of all kinds. Called to the Christian ministry from the practice of law, Bishop Keator came to ministerial duties and responsibilities with the experience and outlook of a man of affairs, with a knowledge of men and motives gained in business and professional circles that the seminary alone could never give. His ministry, long and useful, was influenced by this circumstance.

He was born in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, October 22, 1855. As a boy he attended the public schools of Moline, Illinois, preparing for college at Williston Seminary, East Hampton, Massachusetts, whence he was graduated in 1876. He at once entered Yale College, graduating with degree of B. A. in 1880, completing the law course and receiving the degree of LL.B. in 1882. While a student at Yale he was elected to membership in the "Scroll and Key" and the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He began the practice of law in Chicago, Illinois, forming a partnership with E. F. Thompson and continuing in general legal practice until 1891. During this period Mr. Keator became associated with Samuel Cook Edsall, a young lawyer of Chicago, afterward Bishop of the Episcopal Church Diocese of Minnesota, and both of them entered into church work in the city.

In 1888 Mr. Keator became lay reader at the Church of the Atonement, Edgewater, a suburb of Chicago, and although at the end of a year he wished to resign his place, the congregation would not permit him to withdraw. Becoming more and more absorbed in religious work, and convinced that his life plan should include the fullest possible measure thereof, he entered upon a course in theology in preparation for the ministry, at the Western Theological Seminary in Chicago. On May 31, 1891, he was ordained deacon in the Church of the Atonement, and on December 20 of the same year advanced to the priesthood. His first charge was the Church of the Atonement at Edgewater, where he remained until 1896, when he became rector of Grace Church, Freeport, Illinois. In November, 1899, Rev. Mr. Keator was called to St. John's Church at Dubuque, Iowa, remaining there until he came to the Northwest. At the general convention of the Episcopal church held in San Francisco, in October, 1901, Rev. Mr. Keator was elected bishop of the Missionary District of Olympia, succeeding the Right Rev. William Morris Barker, who had died in March, 1901. Bishop Barker had followed in office Rt. Rev. John A. Paddock, first bishop of the diocese, who came to Western Washington as bishop in 1880. Bishop Keator thus became the third bishop of the diocese and the two hundred and third occupant of the Episcopal office in the United States. His election came as a surprise to Rev. Mr. Keator, whose time and strength had been so entirely taken up with the work of his parish that he had paid lirtle heed to the possibilities of ecclesiastical honors. He was consecrated as bishop in his church in Dubuque, where he had spent four fruitful years, January 8, 1902. On the 25th of the same month he arrived in Tacoma, the see city of the diocese, which included all of the State of Washington west of the Cascades.

WA Governor Lister commissioned Bishop Keator chaplain in the Coast Artillery Corps, National Guard of Washington, with the rank of captain, February 16, 1916. He served in this capacity until the National Guard was federalized for service in the World War, in 1917, when, being over the age limit, he was retired from active service. Bishop Keator's war work occupied all of his time and extended into nearly every activity of the government and social service and relief organizations. He spent much time with the Young Men's Christian Association at Camp Lewis, and sponsored many forms of recreation and entertainment that made a great popular appeal. He also took a regular turn at the canteen counter, and came into intimate touch with hundreds of Washington's sons who were quartered there preparatory to overseas duty. In addition to his Young Men's Christian Association service he was camp pastor at Camp Lewis.

For many years Bishop Keator performed a large amount of work in Masonry, and he was honored with the greatest distinction of the order, the thirty-third degree. He was past master of Lebanon Lodge, No. 104, Free and Accepted Masons, of Washington; past wise master of the Chapter of Rose Croix; past commander-in-chief of Tacoma Consistory; member of Ivanhoe Commandery, Knights Templar; knight commander of the Court of Honor; past sovereign of the Red Cross of Constantine, and past potentate of Ann Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He was for some time one of the representatives of Afifi Temple at the Imperial Conclave. At the Conclave of the Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, held at Portland in 1920, Imperial Potentate W. Freeland Kendrick, of Philadelphia, introduced and sponsored a resolution providing for the annual assessment of each Noble of the order to the extent of two dollars to provide a fund for use in restoring to health the crippled children of America. The resolution was adopted and a committee of seven was appointed to formulate a plan for carrying out this proposition. Bishop Keator was a member of the committee appointed. The magnitude of this undertaking and its value not only from a humanitarian viewpoint but on its economic side presents a subject that cannot be adequately dealt with in this article. A vision of its possibilities can be glimpsed when it is considered that $1,000,000 annually, increasing as the membership of the order grew, was available for restoring thousands of crippled children to normal life and work. With no loss of time the committee set upon its task in investigating hospitals and orthopaedic centers throughout the United States and finally submitting several plans which gradually resolved themselves into two major propositions. One was to provide treatment for the children in the locality in which they lived; the other was to provide for a central hospital and clinic, and in addition thereto, other units as fast and as far as the funds would permit, so placed as to serve the greatest number. The majority of the committee favored the second plan, Bishop Keator taking his stand with the majority. There had been the greatest interest in the matter in the order at large, and it was expected that the report of the committee would meet with no small opposition. Bishop Keator supported the majority report of the committee to the Fortyseventh Annual Conclave at Des Moines, Iowa, in June, 1921, by a speech, logical, forceful and convincing. Extended discussion followed and the majority report was adopted. This provided for the immediate erection of a clinic in connection with the Washington University Medical School at St. Louis, Missouri, as the central hospital. Other units were constructed as required. To administer this work a board of seven trustees was appointed, as follows: Right Rev. F. W. Keator, Tacoma, Washington; W. Freeland Kendrick, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Samuel P. Cochran, Dallas, Texas; John D. McGilvray, San Francisco, California; Dr. Oscar M. Lautrum, Helena, Montana; Philip D. Gordon, Montreal, Canada; Forest Adair, Atlanta, Georgia. All of these men were members of the original committee to submit detailed plans, with the exception of Mr. Adair, who took the place of John Morrison. Leading surgeons throughout the United States pronounced this work of the Shriners the most stupendous thing undertaken in its field. To W. Freeland Kendrick, of Philadelphia, is given the credit and honor for its noble conception. Bishop Keator considered this method of restoring crippled children to the condition that is their natural birthright the most splendid philanthropy ever established, and was proud and happy in having a share in it.

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