On Wednesday, 30th January 2019, the Knight Templar Province was shaken to the core by the sudden and tragic death of their much respected and beloved leader, R.E.Kt David Gary Read. Everyone who knew Gary have their abiding and fond memories of him. A brilliant comedic wit he had a ready smile for everyone. He was a giant of a man and that was not a reference to his stature. He was a giant in his friendliness towards every member of our Order, especially those who had just joined. His compassion to all those that were ill or in any need whatsoever. His love that he had for his wife, Vivienne, during the long time they had together and the love shown to the very end of his daughter Stephanie and, the apple of his eye, his teenage grandson, Joseph and lastly, his sense of duty, commitment and responsibly towards our Order and Freemasonry in general.
David Gary Read was born on the 9th June, 1944 in Wellington, Shropshire. His mother was an opera singer and had auditioned at Covent Garden but, unfortunately, she died at a very young age. He was then brought up by his father in his home village of Rhosllanerchrugog, North Wales where he was a tenor in the Rhos Male Voice Choir. Unfortunately, Gary did not inherit a singing voice from his parents but he did show a great ability at a young age and that was in drawing and art.
He was educated at Rhos Boys School where all the lessons were taught in Welsh and, latterly, at Wrexham College now Wrexham University. He had the accolade of being the first on record to be top in art throughout the whole of his school life. During the time at Wrexham College he won a national competition for a painting depicting a scene with Jesus carrying the cross just before the crucifixion, named “The Great Day”.
Leaving school they wanted him to follow art as a career. However, he believed that Art was in no way going to earn him a regular income so due to his studies in interior decorating and design and management he obtained employment as a manager with a national industrial decorating contracting company. After five years he started his own decorators merchants business continuing in contracting. Over the years his business portfolio increased with a hardware shop, giftware shop, a café and he could not resist an art gallery – which was in Lichfield. In 2006 he sold his businesses and went into retirement.
He joined Round Table at the age of 27 and served in all the offices becoming Chairman in 1975 and served on the National Committee, retiring at 40 due to their rules. He then joined the 41 Club for Past Tablers and was Chairman in 1990 and remained a member to his death.
In Freemasonry Gary was initiated into St. Johns Lodge of Lichfield No. 1039 in February 1980 and was Master in 1990. In the Craft Province of Staffordshire he held the ranks of Provincial Grand Sword Bearer (1996), Provincial Senior Grand Warden (1999), Assistant Provincial Grand Master (2004) and Deputy Provincial Grand Master (2009).
In the UGLE he held the ranks of PAGDC (2002), PSGD (2005) and PGSwdB (2009)
In the United Orders he was installed as a Knight Templar in William de Ferrars Preceptory No. 530 in 1988 and was Eminent Preceptor in 1999. In Provincial Priory he was appointed Provincial Deputy Marshal (1999), Provincial Marshal (2005), Provincial Sub-Prior (2007) and Provincial Prior (2009).
In Great Priory he was appointed P.Gt.A-de-C (2002), P.Gt.Std.B.(B) (2007), Provincial Prior (2009) and KCT (2017).
He also held senior rank in the Royal Arch, Rose Croix, Knights Templar Priests, Knights Beneficent of the Holy City and St.Thomas of Acon.
In our Order he will be also remembered for his push to raise funds for the St. John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, spearheaded so well by his bodyguard. In recent years the Province raised enough money to send St. John’s Ambulance cadets to the Hospital on two separate occasions with each pair taking with them a generous donation from the Knights of Staffordshire & Shropshire. In 2018 he challenged the Province to take part in the Hospital’s Swift Appeal. This meant raising £5,000 more for the hospital during the year than had been done the previous year. He was not disappointed in his Province’s response for the challenge was not only met but was doubled. The result is that not only will we have one bronze swift inscribed with the name of the Province but there will now be a second bronze swift and that will be dedicated to the memory of David Gary Read. Both swifts will be hung on the tree on the site of the original Hospital in the Old Town of Jerusalem at Muristan. A number his Knights and their families will be visiting the Holy Land at the end of October this year to visit the Hospital and see the swifts on display, which will be extremely moving.
Modifying the words of the Craft “Gary lived so well respected and died so much regretted,”
V.E.Kt. Alan T.Howls P.Gt.Reg. Provincial Sub-Prior in Charge.