Shriners fraternity has always had the ability to attract honorable men of all
ages – men like Walter Breuning.
This past February Imperial Potentate George Mitchell traveled to Great
Falls, Mont., to meet with then-114-year-old Walter Breuning, who was the oldest
living man and Shriner. He was a member for more than 60 years and was president
of the Great Falls Shrine Club. Noble Breuning passed away In April; we are all
saddened by the loss of our great friend, and grateful to have known him for so
During his visit with the Imperial Potentate, Breuning said the main reason
he decided to become a Shriner was his strong desire to help others, especially
the children at the hospitals. That desire remained strong throughout the years.
In 2009, in recognition of his 50 years of service to the railroad and to honor
him on his 113th birthday, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation surprised
Breuning with a $50,000 donation to Shriners Hospitals for Children®, on his
behalf. Breuning asked that the money be given to Algeria Shriners’ Hospital
Patient Transportation Fund. He especially wanted to assist the Great Falls
Shrine Club, which comes under the jurisdiction of Algeria Shriners, with its
patient transportation efforts
During the visit, Breuning was asked about the most important lesson of his
long life. He replied, “People should help each other and work together more.”
Breuning’s advice is something all of us can try to incorporate into our daily
The website beashrinernow.com was created to recruit new members who will carry
on the legacy of inspirational men like Noble Breuning, Statistics prove the
website is helping the fraternity reach a younger demographic more effectively,
given that the most recurring age for these new members has been 32. This number
seems to bode well for Shriners, since one of the fraternity’s founders, Walter
Fleming, M.D., was the same age when he developed the concept of the Shriners
further demonstrate the fraternity’s appeal to young men, we have recently added
younger members, including 18-year-old Nicholas Hetrick of Zembo Shriners in
Harrisburg, Pa. Nicholas grew up knowing about the fraternity through his
grandfather, a Shriner.
For Nicholas, the most rewarding benefit of being a Shriner is the
opportunity to positively influence people’s lives. He believes if more people
his age would visit our hospitals and see first-hand the remarkable work we do
for children, it would help membership and recruitment.
Nicholas is currently a senior at Newport High School and plays on the
wrestling and baseball team. When he’s not participating in sports, you can find
Nicholas with a fishing pole with his hand.
By continuing to raise interest in and awareness of Shriners International
through new membership initiatives such as the website beashrinernow.com, we
look forward to adding more fine young men like Nicholas to the “world’s