Vol. XLV No. 9 — September 1967

The Captain and His Lady

Walter M. Callaway, Jr., PM

This appreciation of the distinguished honorary past grand master of Maine, M.W. Brother Ralph J. Pollard, was written by Worshipful Brother Walter M. Callaway, Jr., of Atlanta, Georgia, a past master of Oakland City Lodge No. 373, Atlanta, and present master of Georgia’s Lodge of Research No. 104. Brother Callaway has not had the pleasure of meeting the Pollards in person. His knowledge of them has come from others and from a study of Brother Pollard’s writings. The warmth of his personal appreciation comes from a lively correspondence with the Captain and his Lady. The Masonic Service Association is delighted to publish this tribute to a good friend and outstanding Mason from a generous and admiring brother in Georgia.

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Any student of the glorious history of Freemasonry must constantly consult the Past, to learn of the men and events that shaped our Masonic destiny into the beautiful system of morality that it is. He must deal with fact and truth, as well as with legend, lore, and fiction. In his inquiries into the Past he encounters the great names of Masonic history: Anderson, Desaguliers, Payne, Preston, Webb, Oliver, Mackey, Pike, Drummond, and others too numerous to list.

But too often we stand in rapt admiration of a distant forest, while we fail to notice two majestic and stalwart oak trees towering toward the sky in our own front yard. Sometimes we become too engrossed in the Past, and so worried about the Future, that we fail to notice and appreciate the Present.

Consider the inspiring story of one Freemason in our midst today, for whom the writer gropes in vain for an accurate superlative: Most Worshipful Brother Ralph J. Pollard, past grand master of Masons in Maine, AND his South Carolina-born wife and amanuensis, Millwee Westmoreland Pollard. Both are already living legends in the history of Freemasonry in Maine.

Dr. Albert G. Mackey says in his Jurisprudence of Freemasonry that “lodges are justly considered as only divisions for convenience of the universal Masonic family. . . .” This being true, then all of us, of all other grand jurisdictions, also have a claim on this illustrious brother and his lady; and Maine must share him with us for what he has contributed to Freemasonry at large, with the indispensable help of Mrs. Pollard — just as Virginia must share George Washington with all American states.

Brother Pollard, born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1896, the son and grandson of Masons, entered the military service in 1915, in time to serve during the Mexican Border trouble and in France with the A.E.F. during World War I. Just before going overseas in 1918, while on duty with his regiment at Spartanburg, S. C., he had the rare good fortune of meeting and marrying a Southern belle of an old family at nearby Woodruff, S.C., Miss Millwee Westmoreland.

Her father, Dr. Olin E. Westmoreland, was a Freemason, as were both her grandfathers, two of her greatgrandfathers, and all three of her brothers. A nephew served as worshipful master of his lodge at Woodruff. Ralph and Millwee’s son, Stewart Pollard, of the U.S. Army, is past master of Alt Heidelberg Lodge No. 821 of Germany, in which he holds dual membership. The commander of the American fighting forces in Viet Nam, General William C. Westmoreland, has the honor of being a cousin to “Miss Millwee,” as she would be addressed by friends and acquaintances in the folksy custom of her native Southland.

Because of physical disability, Captain Pollard was transferred to the inactive list in 1935. This disability ended years of specialization in the field of military education, during which he served as Commandant and Tactical Officer at educational institutions. After a prolonged period of hospitalization with the Veterans Administration he was formally retired in 1947. Since 1936 the Pollards have made their home in Waldoboro, Maine.

Now that Route 1 by-passes the center of town, Waldoboro is a quiet and charming “down East” village looking to the sea. Most appropriately, their house is on Friendship Street, a short walk southward from the center of town. A typical white New England frame house, their home stands on high ground surrounded by giant New England elms and maples. At the same time it commands a view of the head waters of historic Muscongus Bay.

In 1944 Brother Pollard’s arthritic condition reached the point where he became completely bedridden. During all the years of complete physical helplessness his devoted wife, Miss Millwee, has been his alter ego; she does for him what he cannot do for himself, which is practically everything. She takes all his dictation by longhand and holds papers and books for him to read, and Brother Pollard reads a lot!

He lives in a hospital bed, but he certainly “gets around,” although he must travel by ambulance. He is carried, on his ambulance cot, into the meetings, yes, even up the narrow stairs of country lodges. While he does his listening and speaking from this bed in the lodge room, Miss Milwee sits in the anteroom with the tiler. She is with him at all times except when he is actually inside a tiled lodge room.

M.W. Brother Pollard does quite a lot of Masonic speaking. He visits lodges as far as 200 miles away. As chairman of Maine’s grand lodge committee on Masonic education and lodge service, he naturally wants to impart good and wholesome instruction to his brethren — at Area Meetings as well as at lodge communications. As chairman of two grand lodge committees — the other being the committee on fraternal correspondence — this distinguished brother appears annually in May at the sessions of the grand lodge, and from his bed on wheels, flat on his back, delivers the reports of the groups he presides over.

Visitors to the Grand Lodge of Maine report the experience as “unforgettable.” First, because the speaker has prepared his reports so thoroughly, he does not depend on the script for his address. The words come from an exact and careful memory. They are spoken in a fairly deep but well-modulated voice, and their clarity is enhanced by careful phrasing and emphasis. One can hear every mark of punctuation. Few Masons give Masonic titles so completely and accurately as does Brother Pollard; yet he pronounces each title with so much respect and understanding of its significance that the repetition of titles increases the hearers’ appreciation for the traditions and procedures of Freemasonry. Withal, the style is possessed of such clarity, sincerity, and conviction that he speaks “as one having authority.” Few grand lodge reviewers are quoted as often and with as much approval. Few Masons exemplify so much of the dignity and decorum of Freemasonry as does M.W. Brother Pollard, even though he cannot stand.

Of one thing every understanding brother is sure. Brother Pollard wants no sympathy for his condition. He does not talk about his handicap; he expects others to refrain from mentioning it, too. As a Mason he is searching for Truth and Light; he wants to share that experience with his brethren.

Nevertheless, Masons are inspired by the saga of this courageous man’s amazing service to the Craft, and by the loving devotion of his gallant Lady, Miss Millwee. Such a partnership makes rare and precious the Masonic achievements of this distinguished Builder from Maine.

He was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason, February 17, 1921, in Arion Lodge No. 162, Goodwin’s Mills, Maine. While serving as an instructor at Military Academies in New Jersey and New York, he affiliated with lodges in those states, and finally with King Solomon’s Lodge No. 61, Waldoboro, Maine, where he served as worshipful master in 1937-1938. He has since served as treasurer and has been its permanent historian for years. He has been elected an honorary member of Portland Lodge No. 1, Portland, Maine, as well as of Ralph J. Pollard No. 217, Orrington, Maine, a new lodge chartered in 1948 and named after him.

As a York Rite Mason he is a Past High Priest of Medomak Chapter No. 69, R.A.M., Waldoboro, a member of Maine Council, Order of High Priesthood, Portland; and of King Hiram Council No. 6, R. & S.M., Rockland; and a Sir Knight of Claremont Commandery No. 9, Rockland. In the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry he was elected September 1966 by the Supreme Council of the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction to receive the Honorary 33° On August 26, 1967, the title of Sovereign Grand Inspector General Honorary was conferred upon Illustrious Brother Pollard in special ceremonies at the Masonic Temple in Augusta, Maine.

M.W. Brother Pollard has also been accorded the following honors: Grand Representative of the Grand Lodges of Sweden and of Canada in Ontario near the Grand Lodge of Maine; district deputy grand master of the Tenth Masonic District of Maine; the Josiah H. Drummond Medal for Distinguished Service to Freemasonry (1942), the highest honor conferred by the Grand Lodge of Maine; and the Jeremy L. Cross Medal (1964), the highest honor that the Grand Lodge of New Hampshire bestows. In 1942 he was elected deputy grand master of Maine, but due to his increasing illness he declined advancement to the Grand East. In 1951, however, the Grand Lodge of Maine, in an action unprecedented in its history, conferred upon him the rank and privileges of past grand master honoris causa.

In 1945 he was appointed grand lodge historian. He then compiled and wrote an official History of Freemasonry in Maine, which was published by the grand lodge for its 125th anniversary. His thorough scholarship and vigorous style make it one of the most readable volumes of its kind.

In 1945 he became one of the most influential "voices of Freemasonry” when he was made chairman of the grand lodge committee on foreign correspondence. How well Brother Pollard has wrought, with the constant and loving help of “Miss Millwee,” is attested by a passage in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Georgia for 1966 by Worshipful Brother Lee Hoyt Williams, Foreign Correspondent for Georgia, a great Freemason in his own right, who said in his review of Maine:

Most Worshipful Ralph J. Pollard is chairman of the committee on foreign correspondence and submits his twentieth report, with sixty-eight excellent reviews. Brother Pollard has undoubtedly maintained the standards of his great predecessor, Josiah H. Drummond, and continues to add luster and prestige to the Grand Lodge of Maine. He is an inspiration — long may he serve!

Informed members of the Craft know that Josiah H. Drummond of Maine was a contemporary of Albert Pike and one of the great Masons of all time.

Brother Ralph Pollard became chairman of the new Committee on Masonic Education of the Grand Lodge of Maine in 1954. For its program he wrote four official booklets, one to be presented to the petitioner before he takes the degrees, and then one after each degree. Because of his work and leadership, this program was given the name of the Pollard Plan. Among other works that he has written and published is his most recent (1966) Our Heritage of Valor, which tells the story of famous military Freemasons of our country, past and present.

The last paragraph of this interesting booklet of fifty-one pages reads:

We do not know what the future holds for our Country. But one thing is sure. Whenever the bugles sound “To Arms," Freemasons will be numbered among those who answer their Country’s call.

A sentiment to which we can add only: “So Mote it Be.” This pamphlet is a short chronicle of American military and naval heroes who were and are Freemasons, from Washington through MacArthur. Lodge of Research No. 104, Atlanta, Georgia, acquired this booklet for its library and then, by sheer chance, learned of “the Ralph and Millwee Pollard story.” The lodge proceeded to honor itself by electing Brother Pollard to lifetime honorary membership and sent Miss Millwee a floral tribute as a token of appreciation of what she has done for Freemasonry.

Other Masonic writings include What a Mason Should Know about Masonry, given by Brother Pollard originally as the keynote address in 1958 at the Third Annual Northeast Conference on Masonic Education and Libraries in Boston. It was printed by the Grand Lodges of Maine; Massachusetts, and Wisconsin; it appeared in The Philalethes Magazine and the Masonic Tribune of Seattle, Washington. It was disseminated widely in every grand jurisdiction as a Short Talk Bulletin of The Masonic Service Association, which reports that another of Brother Pollard’s booklets, Freemasons in American History, published in 1959, is still being requested by Masonic readers and students. Editors and printers know that every one of Brother Pollard’s manuscripts is prepared by his devoted alter ego. They are written in the clear and “sunny” longhand of his wife.

Miss Millwee, in addition to her other duties, served as Worthy Matron of her Eastern Star Chapter No. 34, at Waldoboro, Maine, and also as Grand Ruth of the Grand Chapter of Maine, O.E.S., and as the Grand Representative of the Grand Chapter of South Carolina, O.E.S., her native state, near the Grand Chapter of Maine, O.E.S. In 1954 a new Eastern Star Chapter was formed at Orrington, Maine, and was named Millwee Chapter No. 198, O.E.S. This is the same community where Ralph J. Pollard Lodge No. 217 was chartered a few years earlier. This novel situation, of a lodge and a chapter in the same community being named for a living husband and wife, is believed to be unique in the Masonic world and shows that the Pollards have become a legend in their time. Obviously our brothers and sisters in Maine are not unaware of the worth of this incredible couple.

Most Worshipful A. Douglas Smith, Jr., past grand master of Virginia, recently remarked to this writer that Ralph J. Pollard is one of the outstanding Freemasons of all time, and that Millwee Pollard has personally contributed more to the cause of our order by her love and devotion to her husband than will ever be known or recognized by the Craft. Worshipful Brother Allen E. Roberts, a renowned Masonic historian, also of Virginia, has expressed the same sentiments. He declares that Ralph Pollard will some day take a place in the Council of Masonic Immortals and that his wife should be there with him, as always!

M.W. Brother Ralph J. Pollard does not entirely approve of tributes like this. He believes that “obituaries” should be kept discreetly in the files until a man has died. Men, however, are inspired by living leaders. Masons should know about this courageous brother. His story is “a Masonic lesson.”

Let them think for a moment about this physically helpless Freemason, of his indomitable spirit, his courage, his intellect, and his iron will to serve our noble Fraternity. How easy it would have been for him to lie in that bed and curse the Fate that laid him low. Let them consider the utterly amazing love and devotion of his Lady, who makes it possible for him to carry on his great work for us as Masons. Let them think of the fraternal and personal devotion of those unnamed brethren in Waldoboro, Maine, who see to it that Ralph and Millwee Pollard are safely transported to and from all the Masonic meetings that he attends.

Let them know of this story of Masonic dedication and devotion, for in it lie the answers to many of the questions that cluster about the desire “to solve the problems of the Craft.” Most Worshipful Brother Captain Ralph J. Pollard and his Lady are an answer, of which Freemasons are proud.

The Masonic Service Association of North America