Masons honor Judge Lester P. Martin Jr.

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 18, 2016

In the Masonic Lodge, there is this word called ashlar – meaning a stone that has been cut to near perfection for a purpose from the rough rock that comes from a quarry.

In legal circles, the comparison by which lawyers are measured is Atticus Finch from “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

Mocksville’s Judge Lester P. Martin Jr. is that ashlar. He is that Atticus Finch.

The Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina this month presented Martin  with the Joseph Montfort award, the highest possible. Martin was Grand Master in 1991.

“He handles himself with grace and dignity,” said current Grand Master Bryant D. Webster, also a lawyer. “Even perfect ones have flaws … but he is one of the closest we have in North Carolina to Atticus Finch – a lawyer, a judge and a legislator – all in the same person.”

Only a Grand Master can bestow a Montfort award; and Grand Masters can only give out three during their tenure.

“He is for all of us that perfect ashlar that we can hold ourselves up to,” Webster said.

He described Martin as a hero for his duty in World War II.

“Judge Martin is part of the Greatest Generation, and like so many of his colleagues, they saved the world and came home and went to work, started families ande contributed to their communities.”

Martin was an Eagle Scout. He was elected district judge in 1975, Superior Court judge in 1988. He’s been a Mason for some 70 years.

Those 70 years have “slipped by,” Martin said.

“I was raised in the lodge and Masonry has been a big part of my life.” He called the Montfort Award “the achievement of a lifetime for a Master Mason.”

Martin said he was 2 months old when his father first took him to the Masonic Picnic in Mocksville, an event he’s attended most of his life. “Masonry has had a great influence on me.”

Showing his humbleness, he acknowledged that all start as rough ashes. “I’m still pretty rough,” he said, as the room full of Masons (Most called it the most past Grand Masters ever to be in one room at the same time.) stood in his honor.