Bro Wilson James McCulloch PM Past Provincial Grand Chaplain 1934 – 2017

Bro Wilson James McCulloch PM
Past Provincial Grand Chaplain
1934 – 2017

On the day of our last meeting we heard that Past Master Bro Wilson McCulloch had passed to his rest and reward at the age of 82 years.  Bro Wilson had not been at the Lodge for some time and although his health had failed somewhat he was comfortable in Alt-na-Craig and was sharp and alert, taking part in trips and activities and enjoying visits from family and friends.  We were all saddened to hear of his passing and the Lodge was very well represented at the service at Greenock Crematorium on Wednesday 1st March 2017.  Rev Sorenson, Wilson’s Minister at the Wellpark Mid Kirk, spoke of Wilson in very fond terms and described him as a ‘refiner’ because, as well as working in the sugar industry, Rev Sorenson pointed out how in so many aspects of his life he refined the people who were around him – in Sunday School, in Church and in the Masonic order.

Bro Wilson was a pattern maker to trade, serving his apprenticeship in Scotts’ Foundry.  He served in the Royal Artillery between 1953 and 1955 when he did his National Service.  He was always proud to wear the regimental tie with its distinctive maroon zigzag stripe motif on navy blue.  The majority of his working life was spent in the sugar industry, firstly in Walkers and then in the Westburn Refinery where he was buyer.  In his youth he trained in elocution and won many prizes and awards and in later years put this training to good use in various aspects of his life.  A committed Christian, Wilson was Sunday School Superintendent and then Session Clerk in the Mid Kirk and qualified as a Church of Scotland lay reader.  He was a popular preacher in local churches.  Of course, we knew him best in the Lodge and he was immensely proud to be a member of No XII.  RWM in 1977-79, he presided at the 250th Anniversary Celebrations when we had the rededication ceremony in the Town Hall Saloon and then adjourned to the Tontine for Dinner.  His talents in speech and communication made him the consummate floor worker and we benefitted from his expertise and coaching, in rehearsals in the big front room at 22 Bank Street.  Wilson served with distinction as Lodge Chaplain and Provincial Grand Chaplain.  Many of us have Wilson to thank for being the Masons that we are today and the Grand Lodge Above benefits from his presence

Iain White PM

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Lodge Greenock Kilwinning No XII 250th Anniversary Rededication
November 1978
Office Bearers and Guests

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A Tribute from Bro Hector Macphail PM

One of my everlasting memories, was Wilson performing “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”, at a 175 Harmony. It was at a time when the Harmonies there could be a bit wild and raucous (4am finish EVERY! Friday night). I remember, among the cacophony and melee, Wilson slowly, deliberately, mounting the Stage to perform this. I felt embarrassed for him in advance, as given the environment, the noise and the rowdy songs that were in full flow, I was sure he would not get the “hearing” he deserved.

How wrong I was. With his distinctive voice, delivery and “presence”. Wilson delivered his poem in the soft, expressive and dramatic way that only Wilson could. You could have heard a pin drop!!. The conversations stopped, the glasses were lowered onto the tables, all heads turned towards the Stage and even the wildest of the “young bucks”, sat mesmerised as Wilson drew them into his drama.

(Myra Welch, the poem’s author, would say that she heard a speaker address a group of students on the power of God to bring out the best in people. She said she herself became filled with light and that “Touch of the Master’s Hand” was written in 30 minutes! The finished poem was sent anonymously to the editor of her local church news bulletin. She felt it was a gift from God and didn’t need her name on it).

'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
      Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
      But held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
    "Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A dollar, a dollar. Then two! Only two?
      Two dollars, and who'll make it three?"
"Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
      Going for three…" But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man
      Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
      And tightening the loosened strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
      As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
      With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?"
      And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
      Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice,
    And going and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
    "We do not quite understand.
What changed its worth?" Swift came the reply:
    "The touch of the Master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
      And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
      Much like the old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine,
    A game — and he travels on.
He is "going" once, and "going" twice,
    He's "going" and almost "gone."
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
    Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
    By the touch of the Master's hand.

Wilson had the unique ability to stand on a Stage and quieten an entire room with a glance and a smile! Perhaps this poem is a fitting Epitaph to a truly great gentleman, a great friend and a great Brother.

Hector Macphail PM