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Mike Early is the second Molalla chapter member to be so honored by state organization

Interesting things do happen in Molalla. Recently, a Mason from Molalla's Masonic Lodge #178 was named Oregon Mason of the Year. Two years ago one of his fellow fraternity members was also tabbed for the award. They are the first to be chosen from the same lodge.

But that's not the oddest thing. Besides being friends now, the two also went to Molalla Union High School, as it was called then; they both were student body presidents their senior year, but they didn't know each other.

Molalla's Mike Early.

Mike Early is this year's Oregon Mason of the Year. He recently was awarded that title by Myles McMillan, the state's Grand Master of Oregon Masonic Grand Lodge, AF & AM.

Oregon's Mason of the Year is chosen from men nominated each month by the lodges in the state. They are reviewed by the head officers and given the title for the month. The one receiving the annual award has worked hard.

"It's quite an honor," said Grant Sharp, who was given the same award two years ago.

The Grand Lodge chose Early, who has been a Mason for 32 years, because of the charity work he does on a continuous basis, according to a press release. The former airline captain began building ramps before he retired.

He's built 15 of them after finding out from his wife that people came home from the hospital in wheelchairs and had no way to get out of their houses.

He would ask his wife to ask them to call him so he could get the information needed to build them a ramp. Most of the money for these came out of his pocket before retirement. Now they are funded by his Lodge brothers and others who give him money. The ramps are built to code and Sharp says they are beautiful. It takes between a few hours and three days to build a ramp.

He also does what he calls his track-hoe ministry. That's when people need large animals buried or to dig a drainage ditch.

"They try to pay me, I won't take their money. I tell them to give their money to their church," Early told the Pioneer.

He's also spent time as an announcer for the district track and field events. Plus, the man cooks for Clarkes Grange events.

"I'm a short-order cook," said Early.

He and Sharp, who nominated Early for the award, are good friends. Sharp has been a fraternity member for 50 years, he started working in high school and early college for the DeMolay, which is affiliated with the Masons. Early notes that Sharp devotes a lot of time to charity auctions doing about 20-25 a year.

Molalla's Lodge #178 has been in existence for nearly 100 years. It numbers 57 members who can be of any religion, must believe in God and enjoy doing charitable acts.

"Charity is one of our tenets," says Early.

The Lodge building for #178 is at 123 E Ross St. near City Hall and the Police Station. They hold business meetings the third Wednesday of each month at 7:30 p.m.

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