Late in the autumn of 1943 the need for at least two additional Symbolic Lodges in Dayton became apparent. A study of the membership statistics was carefully made by the three Dayton Grand Lodge officers Right Worshipful Brother L.T. McKinney, Grand Marshal; Most Worshipful Brother Charles B. Hoffman, Past Grand Master; and Most Worshipful Brother Elmer R. Arn, Past Grand Master, who concluded that in order to reach a definite decision on the matter, a meeting of a number of active Dayton Masons should be called to expand the discussion to a ;larger and more representative group.
On December 8, 1943 such a meeting was held in the Masonic Temple, and in addition to the three Grand Lodge Officers there were in attendance eight other prominent Masons, one from each of the eight lodges then in existence. After a lengthy discussion it was agreed that the formation of two new lodges was in order. While this discussion was not unanimous there was no serious opposition stated and the majority agreed that the formation of the new lodges should proceed at once. To carry out the details of the formation of these lodges a committee was appointed consisting of Worshipful Brother William D. Blaik, chairman; Right Worshipful Brother Charles B. Hoffman and Most Worshipful Brother Elmer R. Arn.
The committee's first action was to give consideration to the naming of one of the two new lodges. It was thought by many of the brethren that one of the lodges should be named for that outstanding Dayton Mason Worshipful Brother John W. Durst, as a tribute to his many years of service to the fraternity. While it was somewhat unusual to name a lodge for a person still living, it was felt by all concerned that an exception should be made in his instance. Worshipful Brother Durst was consulted and expressed no objections to having a lodge named after him. It was therefore decided to name one of the new lodges John W. Durst Lodge.
With this matter disposed of , the selection of the Worshipful Masters became the next step and the Committee selected Worshipful Brother Clarence J. Stewart, Past Master of Stillwater Lodge #616 for John W. Durst Lodge. Soon after came the selection of the Wardens and Worshipful Brother Clifford J. Wahl, Past Master of Melrose Lodge #576 and Brother Thomas Mitchell of Mystic Lodge #405 were selected as the respective Senior and Junior Wardens of John W. Durst Lodge. The wisdom of choosing a Past Master as the Senior Warden was proved early in the proceedings.
After the necessary petitions and other incidental forms were procured from the Secretary of the Grand Lodge and properly signed a meeting was set up with the Grand Master. On April 18, 1944 at a meeting of Hiram Lodge #18 Most Worshipful Brother Alpheus A. Stephens signed the Dispensation. The first meeting, the meeting for the institution of John W. Durst Lodge U.D. was called by Worshipful Brother Stewart on Saturday, May 6, 1944. The meeting was opened at 7:30 p.m. in the Commandery Asylum with prayer by Rev. Paul Herrick, Pastor of the First U.B. Church of Dayton, a charter member of John W. Durst Lodge. Worshipful Brother Stewart then read the Dispensation and requested Worshipful Brother Cliff Wahl, Senior Warden and Brother Tom Mitchell, Junior Warden, to take their stations. He then named the following officers and requested them to take their respective places:
Arthur Compton, Treasurer
Wesley O. Clark, Secretary
Robert Baker, Senior Deacon
Claude Almand, Junior Deacon
J. Floyd Downing, Tyler
Floyd Irons, Senior Steward
Walter Bunn, Junior Steward
John Branch, Chaplain
Andrew Iddings, Trustee
George Baker, Trustee
Dan Schryver, Trustee
Worshipful Brother Stewart then called Worshipful Brother John W. Durst to the East and extended him the gavel that he might conduct the first order of business in the Lodge named in his honor. Worshipful Brother Durst proceeded by ordering the colors posted. This being completed he returned the gavel to the Worshipful Master.
Working through the summer of 1944, 33 new members were raised and finding all the records in due order the new Lodge was duly constituted on the evening of October 30, 1944 under the direction of the newly-elected Grand Master, Most Worshipful Brother David B. Sharp in an impressive ceremony. That first meeting was held in the Commandery Asylum because of the large attendance; many sat in the balcony. At one point, during the meeting, Worshipful Brother Durst had a wheelbarrow load of silver dollars wheeled in from around one side of the stage. The money was in white canvas bags, with two Dayton police officers in uniform as escorts and guards. Brother Durst said that it was customary to bring and present gifts to all new born babies, and so here was his gift to the new Lodge, his namesake; six thousand silver dollars to start the Lodge off with some money in the Treasury.
John W. Durst
In 1847, after a voyage of 92 days a sailboat crossing the Atlantic Ocean arrived in New Orleans from Lucerne, Switzerland. A 17 year old by the name of Jost Durst stepped off that boat into a new world. Working his way north up the Mississippi River he arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio where he married and established his first home. In 1854 he moved his family north to Germantown, Ohio where on November 18 of that year John Durst was born. On August 29, 1950 he was gently touched by the mystic messenger and silently escorted beyond the shadows into the realm of light at the age of 95 years.
During his lifetime, actually in 1887, the Durst Milling Company was incorporated by his father and the three sons, John, Charles, and Edward. The company, after a life of 68 years, established an enviable name for itself with its nationally known products and sold out in 1929 to the Pennsylvania Railroad. John Durst, with more than half a century spent in his chosen vocation, retired from business. He had a most interesting and full life, having spent his boyhood, raised his family and lived in the same neighborhood. He passed through four wars (Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II), three floods (1866, 1893, 1913), three fires and as a boy with his father shook hands with Abraham Lincoln on the latter's visit to Dayton.
It falls on few men as they journey through life, to enjoy the love, esteem and respect of everyone who knows them, to the extent that John W. Durst enjoyed. It is not alone the recollection of his qualities as a Mason that will always be cherished, but also the knowledge that he was a tower of strength for many years in the affairs of business and a most distinguished citizen of Dayton.
Worshipful Brother Durst often visited the Lodge in its early days and there is one recollection when he was sitting along the side of the Lodge and the business of the Lodge was proceeding. He was heard to say in a contented manner, "My, what a busy bunch of bees." The Lodge held birthday dinners in his honor which he would attend. At these dinners he was always presented with a huge basket of white or yellow Chrysanthemums.
His 72-year record as a Mason, from the time he first sought light until he slipped through that impenetrable mist, was an exemplary expression of the cardinal virtues of Freemasonry and all that it stands for. Over this long span of years he became very definitely an "institution"
in Masonic circles.
We in John W. Durst Lodge will be forever grateful for the inspiration of his friendship; for his having been a part of our lives; his timely advice and deep understanding of many difficult problems, his kindly council and good works will ever remain a lasting monument to his fidelity and his unselfish devotion to the finer things of life.
We, the members of a Masonic Lodge which was named in his honor, appreciate the task that is ours and we accept the challenge; that of keeping the banner high and the escutcheon untarnished, to the end that we may be worthy of carrying the name of John W. Durst
Here was a friend
Whose heart was good,
He walked with men