Top of the Morning, Aug. 17, 2014
The ceremony at Tuscola Lodge 729 will go on as scheduled.
But for Tuscola's Joe Harris, who is to receive the prestigious Pilgrim Degree of Merit at 2 p.m. today, it will be bittersweet.
Joe's wife, Norma, passed away Thursday. Today was to be their 57th wedding anniversary.
When I talked to Joe on Tuesday, he joked that he was going to try and convince Norma that the complimentary meal at today's get-together should count as going out to dinner. He added Norma wouldn't make a fuss over it either way.
Two daughters, two sons, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild were among a gaggle of family due in town to celebrate Joe's accomplishment, which is significant. Basically, he's entering the Moose Lodge Hall of Fame for helping kids and seniors, although the 77-year-old would rather talk about his time on the chain gang at Tuscola High football games that toot his own horn.
"Best seat in the house," said Harris, on the sidelines since '82.
Every Pilgrim honoree — about 3,000 worldwide — receives a gold blazer. On Tuesday, Harris said he was excited to wear the blazer on his upcoming tour of Illinois in his role as president of the state's Moose Association. The plan was to drive his '57 Pontiac to as many as 90 lodges.
Late Thursday, he took it for a spin "just to get away," he said.