By Greg Ellison
(Dec. 2, 2021) After volunteering for half a century with the Order of the Eastern Star, Berlin native Glendola Bowen was enshrined as a “Past Grand Worthy Matron” during the organization’s annual meeting last month in Baltimore.
“It really was a surprise,” she said.
The Myra Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star Prince Hall Affiliated Jurisdiction, which is based in Baltimore, is part of the million-member organization associated with the Freemasons.
“My husband is a mason and Eastern Star is an auxiliary organization,” she said.
Prince Hall, who is credited as the “Father of Black Masonry” in the U.S., was inducted in 1775 to Lodge 441 in Boston along with 14 other free black men.
Bowen joined Order of the Eastern Star in 1972 at the behest of her husband, Anthony.
“He kept asking me if I was going to join, so I finally did,” she said.
With a worldwide membership, the Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal group welcoming both men and women.
Although the couple had relocated to Oxon Hill a few years earlier, Bowen opted to join the Eastern Shore chapter back in the early 1970s.
The process typically involved submitting an application and waiting to be contacted regarding an induction date.
“I knew what day they met, so I decided to show up,” she said.
Despite not anticipating Bowen’s presence, after learning of the distance traveled to attend the meeting, a decision was reached to fast track the induction.
“I showed up and they said, ‘We weren’t expecting her today,’” she said.
After moving back to the Eastern Shore in 1978, Bowen became more actively involved.
“I was matron of my chapter for about 20 years and deputy for the district for almost 20 years,” she said.
Like Bowen’s surprise appearance when she joined, the honor bestowed on her on Nov. 19 also came unexpectedly.
“It’s up to the Grand Worthy Matron that’s serving at that time to decide if she wants to give it to anybody,” she said.
Grand Worthy Matron Barbara Henderson was tightlipped about the award before revealing that Bowen was selected at the banquet.
“They set me up,” she said. “Everybody was in there hollering and cheering.”
While appreciative of the recognition, Bowen continues to look ahead.
“I thanked them but also still have a job to do,” she said. “I’m going to still do what I always do.”
Deflecting attention from her own service, Bowen highlighted the importance of attracting new members.
“With the adults now there are so many other things that they can do,” she said. “You have to make them understand this is a charitable organization and we need younger ones to carry on for us.”
Of her time with the order, Bowen said, “I’ve done all the work and I’ve hit all the marks.”
She hit another mark on Sunday, too. This one was more of a milestone — the couple celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary.