Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shriners Are Serious Business to New Leader

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Shriners Are Serious Business to New Leader

Article excerpt

When Lew Brantley recalls his 26 years as a Shriner at

Jacksonville's Morocco Temple, he does not spin tales about

donning a thick velvet fez or zipping through parade-filled

streets in a miniature car.

Brantley, who will lead the Shrine of North America starting in

July 1997, focuses on the crippled and burned children who are

treated at the Shriners' 22 hospitals.

"It is exciting to know that I will be the No. 1 Shriner in all

the world," the Westside man said in a recent interview. "I

expect to leave the organization a little better than I found

it."

As the imperial potentate, a position equivalent to the chief

executive officer of a multi-million-dollar corporation,

Brantley said, he will increase the Shriners' commitment to

providing health care to children in need. The Shriners have a

budget of $410 million for their hospitals, he said.

The hospitals -- funded through endowments, wills, donations

and fund-raisers -- allow children under 18 to receive free

medical care. Any child with orthopedic disabilities or burn

injuries whose family cannot afford the needed medical treatment

is eligible to go to a Shriners Hospital.

Brantley wants to renovate and reconstruct some of the

hospitals, which are spread from Honolulu to Tampa.

A former president of the Florida Senate and member of the

morale and recruit younger men to the 610,000-member

international fraternity.

Founded in the late 1800s, the Shriners started as a social

group and evolved into a civic organization by 1922. All

Shriners are Masons and members of the York or Scottish Rite.

Men are selected to become Masons by friends within the

organization. Masons are then accepted into the Scottish or York

Rites. From there, they are chosen to become Shriners. …

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