Issues Policies & Resolutions
The following entries are reports on rumors and determinations regarding questions and concerns within the Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association. This information is presented to dispel rumors and disinformation about current and past issues, and to accurately state the official policies and determinations which have resulted from these issues. Members who have questions or concerns about issues related to the WSMRA or your jurisdictions and chapters may contact us via our Contact page.
There is a small faction of self-appointed Elitists within this organization who have taken it upon themselves to speak for the association and are threatened by the implementation of a WSMRA Constitution. This group has been at the core of the disunity and confusion within our organization, and has contributed to the downfall of our reputation & the desirability of our organization among our peers in the Masonic Fraternity. Freemasonry is and has always been a regulated institution. Our behavior and the landmarks and practices of the fraternity have been regulated since time immemorial. The WSMRA Constitution & Bylaws while preserving jurisdictional autonomy has implemented accountability from its jurisdictions, chapters, and members in the same way that our Masonic Obligations and Grand Lodge Constitutions regulate our lodges and the behavior of our members. As an organization we are now more in step with the fraternity of which we are all members.
This latest step in our evolution as an organization has been finalized and cannot be undone. However a disinformation campaign has been started in a desperate effort to preserve the interests of the spurious brethren within this organization who like the 3 ruffians in the Hiramic legend have tried to claim rights which do not belong to them, and have tried to take those rights by force. The following transcript is the latest piece of disinformation being distributed by this spurious faction:
I am writing you this letter to advise you of possible trouble on the horizon in California. Carl Davenport has made a threat to our California brothers, to either get their by-laws in conformance of his rules and desires or he will be approaching the California Grand Master with his demands. We have already seen what his undermining and back door politics has done to the Massachusetts Widows Sons.
I am bringing this situation to your attention in hopes if nipping said problem in the bud so to speak.
What are your thoughts of considering both Carl and Fred Clandestine Widows Sons? This would require that we suggest and/or rule that if you are friendly with either of them in any way, you yourself will be considered clandestine and shunned for your actions. I think that if we cut off their pipeline of information, it would be harder for them to make inroads to this great organization.
I am throwing this out there for your input.
Dan Akers President Kentucky Widows Sons
The above notice is completely untrue and unfounded. It is an example of what has led to the downfall in our reputation as an organization. Brother Davenport has made no such threats to California or any other jurisdiction. Nor is he responsible for the edict against the jurisdiction of Massachusetts whose leadership is counted among the group of brothers promoting disunity. It is the actions of those brethren which have led to their edict and one chapter president has been suspended indefinitely by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts for conduct unbecoming a Mason.
Brother Akers has distributed these false rumors knowingly or has been irresponsible in not confirming the allegations beforehand. His actions further demonstrate why it has become necessary that the association and its members be protected by its Constitution & Bylaws and its members be held accountable for their actions.
As alluded to in the notice on the front page of this website, an informational packet will be mailed to each jurisdiction explaining the details of this important step in our evolution. Once received, our membership will have cause for celebration as our future will be in the hands of the entire membership, rather than that of a few outspoken but spurious and selfish individuals. Upon delivery of the informational packets which should be received before the end of January, steps will be taken to remove these members from our organization.
This is the latest false rumor being spread through the illicit website 'widowssonsinternational.com' where it is claimed that brothers Carl Davenport & Fred Broecker are denying the use of our logo and patches or may soon do so. This rumor is FALSE. The origin of the rumor stems from a copyright complaint issued against a single website 'widowssonsinternational.com' and their associated Facebook page where the sites in question are representing themselves as the website and pages for the WSMRA. As previously mentioned in this section, the sites are not sanctioned Grand Chapter or chapter websites and none of the proprietors have the authority to make such claims. This website 'widowssons.com' has been and remains the only authorized homepage for the WSMRA since being accepted as such by those brethren who organized our association back in 2000-2002.
Widowssonsinternational.com is owned by John Pawlowski of Virginia and is operated & managed by the following brethren: James Mowel, Scott Frum, Mike (Stickman) Wade, Robert (Bagger Bob) Gill, David Adams, Andy Stocker, Rick Munday, Ken Belt, and a handful of other supporters. While the purpose of the site falsely claims to be a legitimate resource for our Association it has been used since its inception to supplant our founder Carl Davenport, his assistants and supporters, and the widowssons.com homepage. For 2+ years the site has been the sole source of spreading disunity, discontent, confusion, and hate throughout the organization through the use of lies, disinformation, and slander. Their proprietors have no other agenda than to empower themselves within the WSMRA by supplanting our founder, and to forcibly restore the positions of our former "appointed" Coordinators.
Due to the relentless hateful & inaccurate rhetoric and scheming on their site's forums, the reputation of the WSMRA as a Masonic-oriented organization has suffered greatly. Brethren who have tired of the un-Masonic behavior among that group have quit the organization to join other Masonic rider clubs, have been forced out for speaking against their activities, and as a result of the disharmony the entire WSMRA is now viewed as being 'undesirable' by our Masonic peers in various Grand Lodges.
We have been denied permission to set up new Grand Chapters in 3 consecutive Masonic jurisdictions, which is unprecedented in our history. Our jurisdiction in Prince Edward Island was only charted late last year and has just announced that they have resigned from the WSMRA and are returning their charter. This is also unprecedented. The denials to form chapters in Australia, Nevada, Idaho, and the resignation of an entire WS jurisdiction is directly attributable to the statements and activities of the spurious brethren on the illicit website.
We have kept quiet and not engaged ourselves in overt actions against the clandestine website and their proprietors because it was hoped that they would eventually leave our organization due to their dissatisfaction, or that our WS jurisdictions would tire of the endless hostile rhetoric & plotting and speak out against them for the good of the order and to restore harmony. Because this has not happened and we have been unable to police the negative activities of our own members, Grand Lodges are starting to see us as a liability, rather than an asset to the fraternity. This negative perception of the WSMRA by our peers in Freemasonry and by our own members is growing at an increasing pace and unless corrected may be impossible to recover from. Therefore our copyright owners decided that it is imperative to exercise our only power to restrict them which was to deny them the use of our logos on their clandestine website & Facebook page.
A recent controversy erupted after outside influences attempted to supplant the Grand Chapter of New York (based in Long Island) by issuing a bogus Grand Chapter Charter to the Rochester chapter in NY. After a thorough investigation, numerous documents and communications were obtained and examined which indisputably establishes the Long Island chapter (under the direction of Brother Lee Thompson) as the original and only authorized Grand Chapter of the Widows Sons within the state of New York. In one of the files which was dated on June 23rd 2009, one National Coordinator acknowledged the Long Island chapter as being the NYGC and also stated that he was aware that another National Coordinator was currently assisting them in regards to issues proprietary to their state at the time. We have in our possession many other files, documents, and communications between the President of the NYGC and the former Coordinators as well as a collection of other GC Presidents who he was in communication with. Every file in our possession was dated prior to any claims that were made by the Rochester chapter, and several pre-date the existence of the Rochester chapter. There are business receipts from neutral parties or businesses which establishes the Long Island chapter as the Grand Chapter.
As to what caused the confusion or misunderstanding within the Rochester chapter, it has been determined that it was due to the following reasons:
There has been a lot of confusion as to whether there are National Coordinators or Regional Coordinators in the WSMRA. Regardless of what anyone is saying, the position of National Coordinator was eliminated in September of 2010. The original purpose of Coordinators was to guide and mentor new groups of brethren who wanted to form a Grand Chapter. The Coordinator would assist them through the process of preparing their bylaws, receiving permission from their respective Grand Lodges and also from the local dominant MC's, and in electing their officers. Once the applicants had met the requirements for inclusion into the Association, the Coordinator would then authorize the new Grand Chapter to order patches and announce their formation to the member jurisdictions within the Association.
In 2010 it became apparent that the 3 Coordinators each performed their tasks in a different manner, used different methods & policies, and contributed to a lack of standardization and consistency among our new chapters. Many chapters were not mentored correctly (if at all), and would not have their requests for guidance answered upon being approved or chartered. In many cases which we have documented, requests to the Coordinators by new groups of brethren went unanswered or ignored after several requests. There was little communication between themselves and between them and the rest of the Association. In several cases the formation of new Grand Chapters went unannounced to the Association as well as to each other. They operated with no accountability to the Association or to each other.
These are just a few of the many examples which led to the end of the Coordinator program. It was determined that our Grand Chapters or member jurisdictions would hereafter sponsor, mentor, and charter new groups into the Association in the same way that Grand Lodges sponsor each other into the fraternity in accordance with Masonic tradition. This method was originally intended to be used once the Association grew to where we would have enough Grand Chapters to serve in this duty. The Coordinator program was never intended to be a permanent fixture.
Much of the controversy since the end of the Coordinator program in 2010 stems from one or two of the former Coordinators refusal to abandon their titles and relinquish their former duties to our Grand Chapters. Since many new Grand Chapters have since been sponsored into the WSMRA by existing Grand Chapters, it became obvious that the duties of the former coordinators would never revert back to them. So an effort by at least one former Coordinator and his supporters was made to redefine the purpose & duties of a Coordinator in an attempt to retain their title or position and force another level of government within the WSMRA.
As a part of this effort the brethren involved in promoting the Coordinator concept have repeatedly attempted to influence brethren in other jurisdictions to gain support for their agenda. As a result, much disharmony has been created within the WSMRA over this divisive issue and individual brethren & whole chapters have been retaliated against for voicing their opposition against it. In one instance an attempt was made to extort the ownership of one of our logos from the owner and through their influence have him removed from membership in the WS. Their efforts were unsuccessful. The campaign by these individuals against certain members of the Association directly violated the WSMRA Landmark which prohibits each member from meddling in the affairs of other chapters or members.
Most recently, after a series of failures these brethren have attempted to create the position of New England Regional Coordinator. Each state or jurisdiction within the WSMRA is not only allowed to, but it is encouraged to have a State Coordinator for managing events and growth within the respective jurisdiction. However National & Regional Coordinators by nature, violates the principle of jurisdictional sovereignty or autonomy. It has been presented that Regional and or National Coordinators would only serve as Advisors and Mediators, but the true purpose is to provide titles & positions which extend beyond a member's jurisdiction, and to allow the former Coordinator(s) and their supporters to retain some influence or a voice in Association-wide business.
WidowsSons.com is the only approved web site that services the WSMRA as a whole. It has served the Association since 2002 and is the homepage which was used by every group of brethren to contact the Association for forming new Grand Chapters. Every Grand Chapter came into the WSMRA through the WidowsSons.com web site. It was set up as the WSMRA portal when the WSMRA was created.
Grand Chapters and constituent chapters may have their own web sites but may only speak for their own chapters or jurisdiction. Individual members may not publish web sites which speak for any chapter or the Association. However individual members may publish their own web sites so long as they only pertain to their personal lives or experiences and do not use a domain name which would lead the public to believe their site is approved by or is a part of the Association. Masons may post web sites which address their lives as a Freemason but no Mason is allowed to publish a site which speaks for his lodge, his Grand Lodge, or as an authority on all of Freemasonry. Many Grand Lodges require that lodge and individual member sites be approved by their Grand Lodge Internet Committees.
While the WSMRA encourages Grand Chapters & chapters to have their own web sites. Web sites published by individual members or groups of individual members are prohibited from using the name Widows Sons, Widows Sons Masonic Riders Association, and any of the WSMRA copyrighted logos unless the web site has been approved by the Association. An example might be where a member wishes to publish a website regarding the history of the WSMRA or the many good works our Association has accomplished. Such a site would be reviewed for accuracy and how the Association is portrayed and then be approved. In a few instances the WSMRA has had disgruntled former members post derogatory & bogus web sites about the Association. It was demanded that those members remove all WS artwork from their sites and to refrain from using the name Widows Sons. Each of them begrudgingly complied under the threat of legal action for copyright infringement.
The web site: widowssonsinternational.com is not approved by the WSMRA. It has been masquerading as a "website owned by the members" but in fact is owned by a brother with spurious motives who went to lengths and expense to hide his identity when registering the domain name. No organization or association should hide their identity from the public. Chapters and Grand Chapters who own their own domain name should not use 'private registration' or register through a proxy service to hide their identity and contact information. Private registrations through a proxy service are fine for individuals who for whatever reason do not wish to have their personal information available to the public. However when a company or organization does so it gives the public the appearance that the company is shady or trying to hide something. Therefore all WSMRA websites should be up front and public in regards to registering their domain names.
Widowssonsinternational.com not only represents itself as the Association web site but has published contradictory information. It lists the former Coordinators as the persons to contact for assistance in becoming chartered, even though they have been removed from those positions due to their negligence and lack of accountability to the WSMRA. The website has a Forum which openly advertises itself as a replacement for the International Forum on WidowsSons.com. That forum is routinely used to engage in hateful and slanderous activities, disparage and attack brethren, engage in character assassination, and spread disinformation. Most of their Forum Administrators are disgruntled former administrators and moderators of the WSMRA Forum who lost their positions because they allowed and sometimes encouraged rampant un-Masonic behavior on the WS Forums.
The Widow logo was copyrighted on Carl Davenport's behalf in 2003 by Armando (Army) Nunez. While Army's name is on the certificate, it is because he filed the copyright application for Carl. Carl prepared the artwork and is considered to be the author but Army does share the rights. Some have spread rumors that Carl cannot revoke permission to use the patch. This is not true. Granting permission requires the consent of both parties. If Carl gave consent and Army did not, then consent cannot be issued because you cannot bestow half of a right or half-permission. If either party chooses to revoke consent the copyright consent is rescinded because both registrants of the copyright have not mutually agreed. In cases where a copyright violation has to be filed, either Carl, Army, or both of them may seek legal action or issue a cease and desist order as they share equal rights to the artwork and its use.
Many of the members in the WSMRA are under the impression that our logos are the property of the entire Association and each jurisdiction and member. This is not yet the case. At this time the logos are legally owned by the registered owners and no one else, although they were produced for the Association's use. However no one in the WSMRA except for the copyright owners possess the legal rights to the use of the logos as the WSMRA has yet to apply for and receive its own legal identity. Steps are currently being taken to change this and more will be reported on that part of the issue in the near future.
The modern or Winged logo was exclusively designed by Fred Broecker and he holds exclusive copyright to its use. He is the only person who may grant consent or revoke it. Over the past year he has issued Fair Use Agreements for the use of the logo which gives license to the use of the logo and the conditions for its use. The Widows Sons of Illinois and the New York Grand Chapter have been the first two jurisdictions to receive a Fair Use Agreement which legally establishes the right to use the patch and under what conditions. Brother Broecker will be issuing similar agreements to other jurisdictions who request it.
The Fair Use Agreements permit the jurisdictions to use the artwork or logo for their patches, to produce tee shirts, banners, pins, and any other accessory items of their choosing. Having such agreements allows our jurisdictions to manufacture WS items without having to seek permission, and secures their right to use our patches & logos.
In regards to the Widows Sons back patches, it has come to our attention that quite a few chapters have either knowingly or unwittingly employed their own vendors for manufacturing patches for their chapters without informing the copyright owners or seeking prior permission. Because the logos are copyrighted, no vendor may reproduce our artwork without first receiving permission or a license to do so. The un-authorized vendors have not been instructed as to what they are allowed to do and not do. We hope to have the copyrights upgraded to Trademark status later this year and it is imperative that each shop which has been employed to produce back patches becomes properly authorized and complies with the manufacturing terms and agreement. Vendors who refuse to apply for a manufacturing license or abide by the Vendor Agreement will be facing charges of copyright infringement which will make them liable for penalties of $25,000 per violation in addition to punitive damages. A new section for Vendors has been added to our homepage and all brethren are urged to have their vendors contact us immediately in regards to receiving their licenses.
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