(Chelsea Update would like to thank Julia Zaher of the WCC Foundation and Fran LeFort for the information and photos in this story.)
Robert “Bob” Taylor, a longtime member of the Olive Lodge 156 of Free and Accepted Masons in Chelsea, has left a lasting legacy – a $10,000 endowed scholarship for students pursuing a degree in skilled trades at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor.
Taylor, a past president of Federal Screw Works, once located in Chelsea, died in 2019. He was committed to Masonic ideals, which include giving back to the community. The Robert Taylor Masonic Memorial Scholarship will help students in perpetuity.
“We are honored that the Chelsea Masonic Lodge chose to support our skilled trades students with this endowed scholarship,” said Tina Kashat Casoli, WCC associate vice president of College Advancement, in a press release.
WCC was a perfect fit for the brotherhood of Free Masons, which has its origins in stone masonry. And members of Olive Lodge 156, founded in 1865, have a rich history in skilled trades. Display cases at the lodge, discreetly located downtown, hold antique welding glasses and photography equipment.
“Within our lodge, we have a lot of tradespeople,” said Dustin Suntheimer, past master and current senior deacon of Lodge 156.
Lodge members who facilitated the endowment saw WCC as the natural choice because of its high-quality associate degrees in construction management and skilled trades.
“We recognize that not everyone is going to college for a four-year degree,” Suntheimer said. “There’s a big need in our country for skilled trades, especially now.”
Eligible students must be enrolled in a degree program in skilled trades and be in the final year of that program.
“The idea is here’s a little help to get you across the finish line,” he said.
According to the Michigan Community College Network, skilled trades are high-demand, high-skill and high-wage programs.
WCC’s associate degrees prepare students for industry jobs and transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.
Suntheimer said lodge members appreciated the simplicity of creating the scholarship through the WCC Foundation, which has the expertise to develop and manage the fund.
“We ensure that each scholarship is carefully matched to the right student,” Casoli said. “The Robert Taylor Masonic Memorial Scholarship will impact future tradespeople for decades to come.”
Learn more about degrees in skilled trades at WCC at https://wccnet.edu.
For information about creating or contributing to an endowed scholarship, contact the WCC Foundation at 734-973-3665 or [email protected].