Interview of Past Master Mike Herron by Master Joseph Ungoco
Mike Herron, PM (2015)
Beach Cities Masonic Lodge #753
Where are you now?
Melanie and I are living with our son Michael on our family run farm located about 650 miles north of Beach Cities Lodge in Hayfork, California, a small mountain town nestled in the Shasta Trinity Forest in Trinity County.
What have you been doing since you stepped down from the East?
For the first three years following my 2015 term, I continued to run a technology company focused in the cannabis industry until we were acquired by a publicly traded company in 2019. In late 2018, I purchased a working cannabis farm of our in the Emerald Triangle of Northern California, got it successfully licensed with the state, and with my wife and son by my side, moved up here to live and work a farmer’s life full-time since the Spring of 2019. We are now expanding our business offerings in addition to cultivation into manufacturing, distribution, delivery dispensaries and a cannabis nursery to supply plants to our licensed area farmers.
Are you active in any of the Appendant or Concordant bodies?
While I am member in good standing with the Shrine, Scottish Rite and York Rite, I haven’t been able to participate with any of our Concordant bodies since our move to the north. Coupling our rural remote location, COVID and adjusting to a 7 day a week physically demanding work schedule often determined by Mother Nature herself, active participation with fellow members has taken a temporary back seat to my other obligations.
What brought you to Masonry in the first place?
Interesting question. While I was born and raised in the City of Brotherly love itself – Philadelphia, arguably the birthplace of Freemasonry in the US in addition to our great nation, I didn’t begin looking into our Craft until my family and I moved back from AZ to CA in 2003. Being a seeker by nature and with the help of the internet, I began reading countless articles on the subject, which then led to books on Freemasonry as well as the Ancient Mysteries in general. I was at times nearly convinced from the internet that our Craft was nothing more than a front for Satanic worship and bad people but I continued to question that premise as it didn’t make sense. Living only a couple blocks from Beach Cities Lodge at the time, I eventually wandered into our lobby one night and met Worshipful Steve Murphy. Worshipful Steve was warm, inviting and informative and I knew then I was on to something good. Shortly thereafter my visit, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and not given much of a chance. Long story short, I beat it and along the way Worshipful Murphy followed up with me a few times to see how I was doing. One year after my diagnosis, surgery and 7 months of chemo, I walked back into our lodge alive and requested an Application for Degrees.
What surprised you about being a Lodge Member?
Just how special being a participating Member was, not just for myself but also for my entire family as well. Our lodge has truly become our family.
Did you have a Masonic Mentor?
Our beloved late Worshipful Ralph Kussner was my Masonic Mentor and Coach; he is truly missed. One of our brothers that was always there for my family and I, at every event and any need was our late Brother Ed Bulgatz; not a week goes by that I don’t think of these two great men in my life and the positive influence they had on me.
What was your proudest achievement during your year as Master? Or your time in the Officer Line?
My proudest achievement during my year as Master was being an active participant in the magic of bringing my fellow line officers together to accomplish multiple goals that many sideliners and Past Masters alike believed to be too difficult to accomplish in one term. Together my fellow line officers along with the ongoing support of all of our lodge members and their families, we were able to hold over 30 degrees, overhaul our administrative and operational procedures throughout, reactivate many of our inactive lodge committees, introduce new charitable, social and money raising events and advanced our strategic plan for our buildings construction, laying much of the groundwork including gaining strategic support that later led to the successful completion of our newly remodeled lodge today.
Anything you would have done differently looking back?
Hard to say if there is any one thing I would change – everything and none I guess - different times and different characters often lead to different outcomes. I’m certainly pleased with the outcome of my term and that I owe much of the successful year to all of my fellow officers, sideliners and all of our supporting family members. However I hope to always remain a humble ashlar polisher, knowing there is always room for improvement. Life and experience continually unfolds itself providing each of us the wisdom, strength and patience to preserve so that we may all constantly work on improving ourselves until the messenger with his sickle comes calling.
I was initiated, passed and raised during your year and I was the recipient of your excellent advice to a then new Mason. What would you say to new Masons now?
Have faith in the process and your Brothers. There is much truth to be found with the saying you get out of it what you put into it. This is your blank trestleboard to help you truly know thyself, arguably one of the scariest and often most avoided subject in anyone’s life journey. This is not the place for you to continue blaming the road you’re driving on for all of your troubles yet this is comforting trusted place among friends where you can take personal ownership to work on rebuilding your car. Place your trust in your fellow brethren, drop your guard, actively engage with our ceremonies and activities and strive to challenge yourself to always try to do the right thing inside and outside of our lodge. Not because you may get a fancy pin, wear a shiny ring, receive a participation certificate. Do it simply because it’s the right thing to do with no expectations of anything in return other than knowing in your heart that you are working on becoming a better you. In the Long Beach Scottish Rite building there reads a sign, “Freemasonry builds its temples in the hearts and minds of men.” The way to improve our world begins with your own very first step – keep walking upright and make the world a better place.
Do you have any advice for a sitting Master or aspiring future Worshipful Masters?
Unsolicited advice given to you may be wearing, however with a little patience and openness, it often comes from the right place at the right time. Be open, be flexible, be understanding, patient and get everyone including all ages involved. Be active from the beginning until the end – don’t mail it in after October – challenge yourself to run through the finish line just as hard as you charged out at the start. Remember this is a community, a family and one’s community is only as strong as its weakest link. Concentrate your focus there and build a strong foundation around it to always invite new ideas from everyone and that I believe will help you lead our fellow brethren through a great term.
Do you have a favorite memory from your Masonic experience in the lodge?
Cooking stated dinner meals with Worshipful(s) Ralph Kusnner, John Yemenedjian, Brother Ed Bulgatz and so many more – I cherish those lifelong friendships I built in our lodge kitchen – I miss all of them dearly and reminds me I need to call Worshipful Yemenedjian, it’s been too a long time my brother.