Eulogy For Gate City II's Theron Roye Locke by Audrey McAleer
On Saturday, September 19, 2009, Gate City II said good bye to T.R. Locke. The long line of family and friends who were on hand to honor and say farewell was moving. It was difficult to stay composed as loved ones passed by the open casket for one last view and a final word. GCII was on hand as pallbearers as well as ritualists for the Masonic Graveside Service. Three representatives from the DeKalb Masonic Memorial Club were also on hand, at graveside, to assist as Stewards and the Chaplain. David Herman delivered the ritual with pride for the fraternity, love for his deceased brother, and heartfelt sympathy for the wonderful family of T.R. Locke.
I cannot write the words well enough to convey what a true spirit to the craft has been lost by the passing of Brother Locke. Nor can I fully impart the extent to which Theron Roye Locke fully embodied the principles of Gate City Lodge No. 2. That being said, Mrs. Audrey McAleer has graciously allowed us to publish her eulogy for Theron Roye Locke.
Eulogy for Theron Roye (T.R.) Locke
By Audrey McAleer
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m one of T.R.’s sisters-in-law. About four years ago, the last time TR and Raye came to visit Hugh and I, TR asked me out on my patio and asked me if I would give his eulogy when he passed away. I had to think long and hard about this but considered it to be such an honor to be asked to do this that I agreed. I told him it would be hard but I would strive to do my best for him.
TR was a man of many passions. He loved pheasant hunting, he loved dancing with his beloved Baby Raye as he called her, he was a giver, sometimes to his own detriment, and he was an avid Shriner for the crippled and burned children in this world. I remember him going out on hot summer mornings to shake his bucket to collect money for the Scottish Rite Hospital and return with a big smile on his face with a bucket full of money for the children.
As most of you know, one of TR’s lifelong passions was his love of wood. He loved trees of any kind. On road trips to Florida or just around the countryside, he would point out all the types of trees and for what they would be used. I believe that at each home TR ever lived in, he left behind trees for the next generation to enjoy. His son -in-law David made the remark yesterday that TR was probably in Heaven pointing out all the pear trees, the apple trees, and the cherry trees. He loved cherry wood so much that in helping Raye finalize his arrangements yesterday, Judy and Iantha said their Daddy would want fine cherry wood in which to lay and that is exactly what they picked out for him.
When I first met TR, I also met his best friend Sam Coley. Back in the day of racial inequality, I was surprised, oh so pleasantly so, to see that two men of different races could have such a brotherly bond. They shared many good bourbons and good cigars together. When they both grew older and feeble, they talked daily and shared their stories. You know how it goes - it starts out do you remember when we ... and they would talk for hours about their many escapades as we called them. If TR had cigars, Sam had cigars in ample supply. I was with Raye when she called Sam about TR’s passing. He was the only friend of TR’s that Raye could not tell TR had passed away. She could only call his name and that was the only person I had the horrible position of telling for her that TR had passed on from this life.
TR had a lot of stories about growing up in the country. I remember that most of his stories would start with “When I was a lad of a boy.” And then he would proceed to tell us about growing up from humble means here in Cumming to building his dream house, Locke Manor, and many stories in between and after. I knew that when I heard the words, when I was a lad of a boy, we were in for a tale.
TR and I had a little ritual that when we would come to visit him and Raye, we would share a glass of champagne. It just seemed like something so special for us to do. However, he could never get me to try his homemade wine that he loved making so much. When he got too feeble to make the wine himself, many times he cajoled Hugh and Johnny into doing the job for him. We all know he was good at supervising. He was so good at supervising that he even got me to plant tomatoes in the last garden he had - in my pajamas on a Sunday morning and barefoot. He is the only person on this earth who could get me to do that.
When Raye and I were talking the other night, we recalled an incident with TR which always made us laugh and it still had the power to do so on such a sad day. He was making an infomercial for a marketing company which he founded. His longtime hairdresser talked him into curling his hair. When he came back to the office and popped his head into the door and said, with that special grin on his face, what do you think, we almost fell out of our chairs laughing. Well he knew what we thought okay and that was the end of the perm. As you all know, he would try anything once, and that was a one time event.
TR loved all his daughters to a fault. He bragged on their accomplishments and didn’t hesitate to tell you about them. In his latter years, especially when he became pretty much bedridden, he so looked forward to their visits and phone calls. When one called or came by, he was sure to tell you about it.
His grandchildren were no different. Like most grandparents, the fridge was full of pictures of the milestones in their lives. I remember visiting one weekend and it was time for breakfast. Maddie Raye was sent to call PaPa to the table. For her he would get up out of bed even when it wasn’t easy. I think Maddie was about 2 and she took him by the hand and said I’ll help you walk to the kitchen PaPa. And she did. And when she got him to the kitchen, she pulled his chair out for him. I think he felt like a king being seated on his throne for such a little child to do that for him with so much love in her heart. He often told Maddie, that she was God’s little angel who God picked up every night and brought her back to him every morning.
When TR knew his time was drawing near, he and Raye had many talks about the final preparations. The only thing that Raye could not fulfill for him was his wish to be driven around I-285 in a hearse with Last Date by Floyd Cramer playing. There is a little story behind that. When they were dating that song came on the radio and they stopped the car, on 285, and got out and danced to it. I can’t hear that song without thinking about them. So, thinking back to that night 4 years ago at my home, we were all listening to old country music on the radio, which he loved to do, and even though TR was starting to decline, he and his Baby Raye got up in my kitchen and danced. I consider that night to be their Last Date.
But now he is in a better place. Not in pain and suffering any more and with his God in Heaven. He can stand tall again and walk with ease. In his last hour here on earth, Raye said she told him not to walk across that river, but to run. He is finally free of any earthly encumbrances and is where he has wanted to be for a long time.
I’ll never have a glass of champagne again without thinking in my mind, Cheers TR. Rest in peace my old friend.
Gate City II is an Atlanta Masonic Lodge. We are Free and Accepted Masons working under the jurisdiction of The Grand Lodge of Georgia. We meet at the Atlanta Masonic Center (formerly The Atlanta Masonic Temple) 1690 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30309