Grand Masters

St. George’s Lodge No. 6, F. & A.M., in it’s long and illustrious history, is the
only lodge in the Jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the State of New York from which 3
men raised in the lodge have been elected and served as Grand Master.

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Stephen H. Johnson – Grand Master in 1867

Most Worshipful Stephen H. Johnson was born in 1809 in Johnstown, N.Y. Little is known about his early life except that he was a working man and at one time learned and pursued the hatting business. Being of an industrious nature, he applied himself to the study of law and was admitted to the bar as an Attorney-at-law in 1837 at the age of twenty-eight. His success as a lawyer lead to his election to the State Senate and eventually a judgeship.

Brother Johnson was initiated into St. George’s Lodge on May 6, 1844 at the age of 35. He was passed to the degree of Fellowcraft on May 20, 1844 and raised to the degree of Master Mason on May 27 of that year. He was elected Master of St. George’s Lodge in 1846.

Brother Johnson’s continued efforts on behalf of the Craft resulted in his election to the office of Junior Grand Warden in 1860 and again in 1861. He served as Senior Grand Warden in 1862, 1863 and 1864, and Deputy Grand Master 1865 and 1866. He was elected Grand Master in 1867 and served in that office for a period of one year.

Brother Johnson was a “constant and earnest attendant” at the Communications of Grand Lodge until 1881 when he was stricken by congestive pneumonia and died at Schenectady on the 16th of July at the age of seventy-two.

Richard Allison Rowlands – Grand Master in 1950-1951

Most Worshipful Richard Allison Rowlands was born on April 1, 1890 in Brownsville, N,Y. His parents were John Stone Rowlands and Mathilda Vervoort Rowlands. When Dick was 9 years old, his family moved to East 35th Street, Brooklyn, New York. He attended the public schools and was very interested in sports. Following his public school education he graduated from the New York Technical School as an electrical engineer. In 1910 after working for local utility companies, Dick was accepted in the General Electric test course in Schenectady. At the conclusion of the test course he was accepted in the General Electric Sales training course.

In 1912 he transferred to the Chicago office as a meter specialist and on July 29 of that year he and Gertrude were married. Two years later he transferred to the Minneapolis office where he remained until he entered the Army on May 8, 1917. He advanced to captain in the 5th U. S. Engineers and served in France with his unit. He returned to this country and was discharged on March 24, 1919. He then joined the International General Electric Company and was placed in charge of the Technical Products Merchandising Division. He visited many countries on business including Japan, China, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand during his I.G.E. career, In 1950 he retired from I.G.E. after 40 years of service with the Company.

In 1921 Dick was raised in St. George’s Lodge. Shortly after that he was appointed an officer and was elected Master of this Lodge in 1932. In that year the fifth floor Lodge room in the building at State Street and Erie Boulevard was completed and dedicated. Dick presided at the first meeting of St. George’s Lodge to be held in the new Lodge room.

In 1934 he was appointed Grand Representative to the Grand Lodge of Canada. In 1935-36 he was District Deputy Grand Master of the Rensselaer-Schenectady District. In 1937, he was appointed a member of the Grand Lodge Committee on Endowments and also elected President of the Rensselaer-Schenectady Council. He served as a member of the General Board of Activities from 1937 to 1940.

From 1940 to 1943 Dick served as Junior Grand Warden; from 1944 to 1947 as Senior Grand Warden; from 1948 to 1949 as Deputy Grand Master; and from 1950 to 1951 as Grand Master. His most significant achievement as Grand Master was the planning and constructing of a multi-million dollar four story infirmary at the Utica Masonic Home. When elected Grand Master, he announced that the infirmary would be his major project. In a ceremony attended by several thousand, he laid the cornerstone on April 25, 1952.

Dick served as Master of Sigma Chapter, Rose Croix and of Sigma Lodge of Perfection and as Master of Ceremony of the Albany Sovereign Consistory. He was crowned a 33′ Mason in 1941. He was a member of the Albany Conclave of the Knights of the Red Cross of Constantine; St. George’s Chapter, RAM; St. George’s Council, R and SM; St. George’s Commandery Knights Templar; Geheomecobe Grotto; Royal Order of Scotland; and Cypress Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S. He was also an honorary member of many other Masonic bodies.

He served as a member of the board of governors for the Empire State Society, Sons of the American Revolution and was a past president of the Colonel Cornelius VanDyck Chapter. He was a member of’St. David’s Society of New York and of the Mohawk Club in Schenectady.

Richard Rowlands was also active in civic affairs. He was appointed a member of the State Probation Commission by Governor Thomas E. Dewey in 1945. In that year he was also a member of a group of five Masonic officers who met with President Harry S Truman to discuss the work being done by Masons for rehabilitation and civic readjustment of veterans.

In 1948 he was appointed chairman of the county civil service commission and was reappointed in 1954 for another six year term.

He was a member of the First Methodist Church of Schenectady. He died March 13, 1955 at the age of 64.

Roswell Taylor Swits – Grand Master in 1988-1990

The Most Worshipful Roswell T. Swits, Past Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons of the State of New York, was elected to the highest office in the State at the 207th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge in May, 1988, thus becoming the third member of St. George’s Lodge to have achieved this prestigious position.

“Ros” was raised a Master Mason in St. George’s Lodge in 1967. Seven years later, in 1974, he was elected Master during the lodge’s 200th Anniversary. He was appointed to serve as Grand Standard Bearer from 1976-78. He was Hudson-Champlain Regional Director of the Masonic Home Building Fund Committee from 1977-82, and was active in the Grand Lodge Masonic Charity Corporations Committee from 1977-80. He was also a director of the Masonic Medical Research Laboratory from 1984-88.

Following his election as Senior Grand Warden in 1984, Brother Swits became Deputy Grand Master in 1986. He served in that capacity until his election as Grand Master in 1988.

During his tenure as leader of New York State Masons, M\W\ Swits initiated the Laboratory Endowment and Action Fund (L.E.A.F.) with an avowed goal to raise five million dollars, which was achieved before he left office. For this and other outstanding achievements, the Grand Master received the Charles Johnson Award – the highest Grand Lodge recognition for exemplary service to New York Masons. His numerous awards and citations include the Christopher Champlain Medal for outstanding achievement (the highest award given by the Grand Lodge of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations to a member of another Masonic jurisdiction) and the Philip Tucker Award, granted by the Grand Lodge of Vermont for Masonic achievement. He was also named as Honorary Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Michigan.

Brother Ros holds several honorary lodge memberships and is an active member of many concordant Masonic organizations. In 1985, he was coronetted 33rd degree by the Supreme Council, AASR-NMJ.

Born in Schenectady, the son of Harmon and Dorothea Swits, Ros attended local schools and the University of Colorado. He was a long-time member of the Board of Directors of the Ingersoll Memorial Home for Aged Men, Schenectady, NY, and until his retirement was employed for 35 years by the New York State Office of General Services in Albany, NY. Brother Swits and his wife, Elvira have two children, David and Holly, and a granddaughter.

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