Masonic Year 1912-1913
He sired the Grand Lodge…
Some years before his death, Harry Eugene Stafford incorporated a last request in his will that upon his death his body be cremated and his ashes sent to the land he loved so much, the Philippines. “Some evening, at sunset, from the location of my old home next to the Manila Polo Club, have some Brother go out into the sunset, that path of glory I have so many evenings paddled out into toward Corregidor and scatter these ashes into the water and drop the container after.”
His request was granted. On August 7, 1954, at sunset, a special Masonic funeral service was held in Manila Bay on board a U .S. naval launch and in the presence of friends and Masons, the ashes of Stafford were scattered over the waters in front of the home where he used to live.
Stafford came to the Philippines as a volunteer surgeon with the rank of Captain in 1899. He was wounded under fire several times and was awarded the Purple Heart for “action beyond the call of duty.” After getting out of the hospital the last time, he was directed to report to General and Bro. Arthur MacArthur as his personal surgeon. Years later he would also became the personal physician of Gen. and Bro. Douglas MacArthur.
When Governor and Bro. William Howard Taft arrived in the country he instructed Stafford to start a civilian hospital and medical service, including a training school for nurses. Dr. Stafford established this training school against the protest of two members of the Philippine Commission, Commissioners Benito Legarda and Jose R. de Luzurriaga, who both assured Gov. Taft that it would be impossible to find Filipinas who would want to do such work! Dr. Stafford easily proved them wrong, and the thousands of efficient, heart-warmingly faithful Filipinas who have followed in the footsteps of Florence Nightingale, justify his foresightedness. From the Civilian Hospital rose the magnificent Philippine General Hospital of today.
After leaving the Army, Dr. Stafford entered private practice in Manila and was for many years one of the leading surgeons of the Philippines. He retired about 1935 and later moved to Baguio where his attractive home became a centre of social activity.
Stafford was an earnest Mason and his Masonic record shows how much he loved the Masonic fraternity.
He become a Master Mason in 1892 in Roome Lodge No.743 of New York City and served as its Master in 1895 and 1898. When he came to the Philippines he demitted from Roome Lodge and became a charter member and the first Worshipful Master of Manila Lodge No.342, then under the Grand Lodge of California. On the formation of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines in 1912 he was elected as its first Grand Master.
In his Scottish Rite Bodies, he was coroneted by the Mother Council of the World in Washington, D.C., on May 7, 1936 and was crowned by the Supreme Council of the Philippines as Sovereign Grand Inspector General on July 29, 1950.
Stafford was in Baguio when the Japanese entered the Philippines, and he was interned there for the duration of the war. After his release, he related that he was taken care of during the war by Mrs. Evangelista, proprietor of the Zigzag Hotel in Baguio, who was a member of that pioneer class of Filipina girls who had registered to train for nurses in those early days of the Civilian Hospital. His students had not forgotten him.
Stafford left for the United States in 1945 and never enjoyed good health until his death. The horrifying treatment by the Japanese during his days of internment left effects from which he never recovered.
In the years he lived in Baguio, Stafford devoted his time to writing about the Philippines. His book The Sun God’s Wife, about the legends of the Mountain People of Benguet, contains many quaint sayings and much homely humour and wisdom, and many passages manifest his love for the people of Benguet. And he never wearied of writing about Manila sunsets. In the tale of The Sun God’s Wife, in the farewell of the Sun God, there is a message in Stafford’s own words that could be his farewell to his brethren.
Evening comes and the Sun God, knowing that he soon must go tears up his robe of prismatic colours and spreads it across the western clouds in benediction, a farewell and a promise of his return on the morrow.
These colours flame and blaze and are reflected in the sea, whose rouge-lipped waves become gently heaving, ruby swells, slowly, kaleidoscopically, they change and grow into softer pastel shades. And in the ineffably sweat sadness of all beautiful things ending, the light hastens to follow its master, and darkness falls; the stars come out one by one; a saffron moon creeps up behind Mt. Makiling, etching the land and sea in mystical black and gold. The mellow, bell-like call of the conch-shells of the fishermen of Baclaran Beach brings nostalgic reminiscences of southern hunting nights with the hounds. A warm, soft, caressing veil of intoxicating perfume – ylang-ylang or dama de noche, perhapsmalacoco sweeps across the face. “
Farewell, a fond farewell.