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Robert Bruce Donaldson, Grand Master, 1869-70

Born at Waterford, Loudoun County, Virginia, October 11, 1826, at the age of seven he removed to Alexandria, where his early education was obtained in a private school. In 1842 he came to Washington, where he was first engaged in mathematical instrument making and manufactured many of the instruments used in the telegraphic service of that day. Later he studied dentistry, and for a few years was associated with his teacher, Dr. R. Finley Hunt, in that profession, after which, for a period of forty-five years, he enjoyed a large and lucrative practice, during the course of which he served some time as Professor of Operative Dentistry in the Maryland Dental College in Baltimore and was the recipient of honorary degrees from two dental colleges. In the course of his long practice he invented several new and useful dental instruments, and after his retirement from active work in his profession, by reason of failing eyesight, engaged in the manufacture of these instruments, from which he acquired a comfortable fortune.

He was summoned to the presence of our Supreme Grand Master at 9 o'clock P. M. on November 22, 1907.

Brother Donaldson was made a Master Mason in Federal Lodge, No. 1, of this jurisdiction December 4, 1855. He was also an honorary member of Pentalpha Lodge, No. 23, and Hiram Lodge, No. 10.

He became a Royal Arch Mason in Columbia Chapter, No. 1, January 17, 1862, and a Knight Templar in Washington Commandery, No. 1, October 14, 1868. In the Scottish Rite he received the fourteenth degree in Mithras Lodge of Perfection, May 18, 1888; the eighteenth degree in Evangelist Chapter Rose Croix, June 22, 1888; the thirtieth degree in Robert de Bruce Council of Kadosh, April 1, 1889; the thirty-second degree in Albert Pike Consistory, April 15, 1889; and the thirty-third degree (honorary) in the Supreme Council for the Southern Jurisdiction, October 23, 1903.

Symbolic Masonry, however, was our Brother's first and best love, and official honors in other branches of the Fraternity had no attraction for him. He served as Worshipful Master of Federal Lodge in 1863 and 1865; as Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge in 1864, 1865, 1866, and 1867; and as Grand Master in 1869 and 1870.

He was the first President of the Masonic Temple Association, and it was his earnest wish that he might live to see the new Temple completed. His last appearance in the Grand Lodge was at the special communication of June 8, 1907, when the cornerstone of the new Temple was laid.

M. W. Brother Donaldson was a sound Masonic jurist, the advantages he derived in his earlier years from his association with such master minds as French, Whiting, and Stansbury being supplemented by a close study of the ethical and philosophical teachings of the Craft As Chairman of the Committee on Jurisprudence he rendered many years of valuable service to the Grand Lodge. Genial and kindly in his intercourse with his fellow-men, sincere in his friendships, charitable to the unfortunate, a true Mason, an upright citizen, and a devoted husband and father, his memory will be cherished in the hearts of his brethren, and in the love and esteem of his fellow-citizens of the community in which his long and busy life was spent.

AHGP District of Columbia

Source: History of the Grand Lodge and Freemasonry in the District of Columbia, compiled by W. Brother Kenton N. Harper, 1911.

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