Roscoe J. Burch

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Roscoe J. Burch, PGM,
Roscoe J. Burch, PGM (From the Michigan Masonic Museum and Library Collection)

Most Worshipful Grand Master, 1945-1946

Roscoe J. Burch was born in South Haven on January 4, 1878, and when he was eight years old, his family moved to Dowagiac. His early education was received in the Public Schools of those cities. He began to learn the art of printing at age fourteen. Upon completing his printing apprenticeship he, for a time, owned and operated the Galien Record and the Bridgman Enterprise. As a country editor he acted as his own copy boy, reporter, editorial writer, compositor, proof-reader and pressman. In 1933 he bought an established printing business in Benton Harbor, which he owned and operated under the name of Burch Printers.

In 1915 he married Audrey Grove. They were blessed with three children.

He was raised as a Master Mason in January 1904 in Peninsular Lodge No. 10 in Dowagiac. He served as Worshipful Master in 1919 and then as secretary for seven years thereafter. When he went to Benton Harbor, he gained plural membership in Lake Shore Lodge No. 298 and served that Lodge as Worshipful Master in 1938. In 1944 both Lodges granted life membership to him.

He was elected as Grand Marshal on May 29, 1940. Since that day he progressed annually, serving as senior Grand Warden during the year 1944-45 and then, due to Deputy Grand Master Paul O. Strawhecker being on active duty with the United States Army, he was elevated to the office of Most Worshipful Grand Master in May 1945. During his term in office there were 127,000 Masons in Michigan.

Long active in York Rite Masonry, he was exalted in Keystone Chapter No. 36, R.A.M., of Dowagiac in 1907; served as Excellent High Priest in 1922 and later for several years as Secretary. He was also a plural member of Calvin Britton Chapter No. 72, R.A.M., of St. Joseph and was anointed in the Order of High Priesthood in 1922. In Grand Chapter he served on several committees.

Continuing his activities in the York Rite, he was active in Niles Council No. 19, and later transferred his membership to St. Joseph Council No. 44 and served as Thrice Illustrious Master in 1939. He was Knighted in Niles Commandery No. 12, K.T., and later became a member of Malta Commandery No. 44 and served as Eminent Commander in 1944-45. For many years he acted as Prelate both in Niles and in Benton Harbor. He received the various grades of Scottish Rite Masonry from the fourth to the thirty-second in the Coordinate Bodies meeting in the Valley of Grand Rapids, and was for many years one of the most active members of DeWitt Clinton Consistory living in Benton Harbor. He was also a member of Saladin Temple; St. Vincent Conclave, Red Cross of Constantine and the Michigan Priory of the York Cross of Honor. Active in Eastern Star circles, he served as Worthy Patron of his local Chapter in 1938. He was also a member of the Benton Harbor Shrine of the White Shrine of Jerusalem. During his term of office, there were 127,000 Masons in Michigan.

He died on November 29, 1970.

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