Bob Bernstein recognized for masterful 50-year tenure as freemason

Bob Bernstein recognized for masterful 50-year tenure as freemason
Robert Bernstein, left, and New York's Grand Master of Masonry Richard Kessler. (Photo courtesy of Bernstein)

Former Lake Success Mayor Robert S. Bernstein was honored for his 50 years as a freemason last month, an accomplishment very few achieve.

“It was a goal that I’ve been looking forward to for many, many years,” Bernstein said in an interview with Blank Slate Media. “Being in a masonic lodge for 50 years is an outstanding achievement.”

Bernstein, 84, is a Master Mason, one of the highest ranks of the fraternal organization whose origins trace back to the 13th century. The organization, in its heyday, regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and the stonemasons’ interactions with various individuals.

Most freemasons will start at a junior position and “progress” to the next position the following year. While there are more than 2 million freemasons in America, only a small percentage have a tenure that compares to Bernstein’s.

The former Lake Success mayor’s experience in exclusive clubs began before his masonic tenure. Bernstein achieved the Boy Scout of America’s Eagle Scout award, the highest honor in scouting along with the Ner Talmud Award, the highest religious award in scouting when he was just 16 years old.

After graduating high school in 1956, he joined the Navy in the Reserve Officers Candidate Class while taking classes at Adelphi University at the same time. Adelphi’s student government president at 1960, he remains the first and only graduate to receive his Navy commission as an ensign.

Once Bernstein retired from the Navy in 1984, he became active in the Village of Lake Success, serving as trustee, deputy mayor and mayor during his tenure. He has also been the recipient of awards for his environmental efforts.

His family’s connection to freemasonry was something Bernstein was not aware of until he became a member. Bernstein’s grandfather Bernard and his father, Nelson, were both freemasons.

“I had found out that I was a third-generation freemason only when I had already joined,” Bernstein said. “Three generations of freemasons is very unique.”

Bernstein served as the master of the Goldenrule Ionic Lodge and was appointed the grand director of ceremonies for 1989-90. He also received the Suckle-Sperber Masonic Service Award in 2008.

Being a freemason lumps Bernstein in with 13 signers of the U.S. Constitution and 14 U.S. Presidents, including George Washington. While joining the ranks of those and other notable historical figures may be a big draw to some, Bernstein touted the charitable efforts and brotherhood that he experienced in his time as a Freemason.

“It’s a group of honest people striving to accomplish charitable things and has the individual being of the person truthful,” Bernstein said. “Ninety-eight percent of all of our contributions go to charity.”

One thing that separates Bernstein’s Goldenrule Clermont McKinley Lodge #486 from some of the others in New York and the United States, he said, is the growing population and involvement of younger men eager to become part of the brotherhood.

 “As people get older, it’s harder to attract younger people because they have younger families,” Bernstein said. “We’ve been very successful in our lodge because we have a lot of young people. And that’s wonderful because the history and tremendous amount of ritual continue [on].”

Bernstein was honored on May 23 by various Masonic leaders, including George Filippidis, the trustee and assistant treasurer of Masonic Hall and Asylum Fund, who Bernstein calls a close friend. He also thanked Goldenrule Clermont McKinley Lodge #486 Master John Thomassen, Secretary Arthur Roby and Right Worshipful Steven Rubin.

Bernstein thanked the lodge for providing a bouquet of flowers to his wife, Carol, and sister, Carolyn, during the event.

“I was so excited, there were upwards of 175 people there,” he said.

While his life and masonic experience have been filled with hard work, dedication, accolades and praise, Bernstein said, the lessons he has learned as a freemason will always resonate with him and should for others as well.

“During my time as a freemason, I have learned to be as truthful and honest with my present and future lifestyle,” Bernstein said. “I’ve learned about the true meaning of charity and the brotherly support of a fraternal organization.”

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here