By HANK MURPHY
When Chuck French’s home in Garland was burglarized in 2009, he figured his Masonic past master’s watch was gone for good.
The watch had been awarded to him for his service as Worshipful Master of Duck Creek Lodge No. 1419 in Garland. His name and other pertinent information was inscribed on the watch’s back cover.
Earlier this year and 10 years after the break-in, French was attending the Grand Lodge of Texas’ 2019 Grand Communication in Waco when he received word that Fred Gano, a Mason from McAllen Lodge No. 1110, wanted to meet with him. Gano told French that he knew where his watch was.
“I kept thinking, what watch, what was he talking about?” said French, now a resident of Garden Valley and a member of Mineola Masonic Lodge No. 502. He’d assumed he’d never see his past master’s watch again.
Gano revealed that Jose Lucas Torres, a Mason from Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Mexico, had purchased French’s watch at a flea market in Reynosa, 540 miles from Garland. Torres wanted to make formal arrangements to return the watch to French.
“I was flabbergasted,” said French. He was flabbergasted not only by getting his watch back after 10 years, but that a man came across it and wanted to return it to its rightful owner.
“I was pleased,” French said. “I was very pleased.”
Among the many lessons taught in Freemasonry are the redeeming virtues of honesty and integrity. The actions by Torres are emblematic of those lessons.
“Yes, it reinforces exactly what we’re all about – what one person would do for another unconditionally,” French said.
In March at the Masonic Lodge in McAllen, a ceremony was conducted in both English and Spanish as the watch was formally presented to French. The happy ending to this story reinforces the moral teachings of Freemasonry while exemplifying the goodness that still exists in all men regardless of their race, creed or ethnicity.