Announcing 2016 Community Builder Award Recipient


This year, the recipient of the Community Builder Award from Hill City Lodge #456 is Richard Bagdonas. Richard reflects several of the best and most noted characteristics of Austin through his work in technology, his commitment to serving the community and his being widely known for his genuinely caring, compassionate approach to life. Please take a moment to read Richard’s interesting bio below.

We will present the award to Richard, with his wife, Tina Schweiger, at an Open Called meeting of the Lodge on 19 April. It will be a Family night so please bring your family, friends and anyone who might be interested in learning more about, or joining, the Fraternity.  As usual, dinner will be served at 6:30 and we will head upstairs about 7:30 for a short Open meeting.

Richard Bagdonas

Richard headshot-big


Richard Bagdonas has been building technology and service companies for over 25 years with a focus on healthcare and hospitality integration since the early 2000’s, but he is far more than a technology creator.

To be sure, Richard’s technical career has had major impact in and beyond Austin. Back to 1987, the companies he has founded and grown include Voicer Technologies, SubtleData, SpeedMenu, Remote Operations, Mahana (acquired by Crunchtime last year) and several others. The jobs created by these companies and the wave he has created of innovation, productivity and leadership through the rest of the technology, healthcare and hospitality industries amounts to serving and building a rather large community, but it doesn’t stop there.

Richard created a national phenomenon on Thanksgiving in 2000 that began with his feeding a single homeless person in Austin a warm Thanksgiving meal. Since then the organization has grown to tens of thousands of volunteers serving meals in 5 states. This year the organization will feed 40,000 homeless individuals in our community and others. Richard remains involved in promoting this activity and inspiring the thousands of volunteers as Operation Turkey’s Chairman and Executive Director Emeritus.

For those who have the blessing of knowing Richard personally, and enjoying one of his famous hugs, it is easy to tell that he is one of the most genuinely caring people one might ever meet.

Announcing Leader-Officer Development Training

It is essential that Officers serving the Lodge be, or become, leaders, so it is inherent in the Lodge’s duty to see that every Mason serving as a Leader-Officer, or who wants to serve as an Officer, has every resource, opportunity and assistance to excel with confidence in those positions.  Your principal officers are putting together a Lodge Leader-Officer Development Training program to inspire, enable and support the Officers, in the course of each Masonic year, to collectively make the Lodge better, stronger, bigger, and more appreciated by its members and in its community than it was at the beginning of their year.

The Worshipful Master has announced that all current officers are to participate.  Any other Brothers interested in serving as a Leader-Officer in the future, or in helping to organize and delivery this training or serve as a mentor, are invited to contact the Junior Warden at or (512) 289-3986 participate

It is the sincere intention of your Worshipful Master and Wardens that this undertaking will enrich the Lodge while encouraging and preparing our Brothers to serve in the line of officers now and in the future.

Read more about this program here.

Meaning and History of the Golden Trowel Award

With tonight’s award ceremony of the Golden Trowel Award from Hill City Lodge #456, we wanted to share with all readers the background on this, the highest award that a Lodge can bestow upon a Brother Mason.

About the Golden Trowel Award


 GoldenTrowel Since its inception the Golden Trowel Award continues to be an exciting means for Lodges to recognize and honor distinguished members with an official award from the Grand Lodge of Texas. It is for use by all Texas Lodges. The Golden Trowel is the Lodge’s formal recognition of a Brother for his devoted service to Masonic principles in general or to his Lodge. It is intended for the Brother who, year after year, quietly, but actively demonstrates his devotion to the teachings of Masonry without thought of recognition or special honors.

Every Lodge has such members. They spread the living cement that builds our Fraternity into a true Brotherhood. You will find them at labor in the kitchens, on the work committees, in public office, on community projects, in service clubs, heavily involved in their church activities and in schools – anywhere that a true and steady hand of assistance is needed.

It is to those Master Craftsmen that the Golden Trowel Award is designated as the highest award a Lodge can bestow upon an individual member.
This award is not intended to replace or supersede any individual recognition award already established by a Lodge. It provides the advantages of a single, official award which is recognized state wide.

How it Began

From the Texas Grand Lodge;

Our Golden Trowel Award originated at a place called “Armadillo Acres” – the get-away home, or country retreat of Past Grand Master Leonard P. Harvey. In the Fall of 1989 while at “Armadillo Acres” for a bit of a breather prior to the upcoming Grand Lodge session, Grand Master Harvey, Deputy Grand Master A.D. Hanna and Grand Senior Warden Fred E. Allen were discussing possible recipients of the prestigious Sam Houston Medal given annually to outstanding Masons. During those discussions, Deputy Grand Master Hanna opined:

“We are always giving special recognition to brethren on a Grand Lodge level, and I don’t understand why we can’t recognize deserving guys at the lodge level.” He mentioned that in nearly every lodge there are the rather obscure brothers who day in and day out do the “little things” for Masonry and for his lodge, and he does those things without expectation of reward or recognition. He went on to say those are the brethren who work in the kitchen, sweep the floors, do plumbing and carpentry work, mow the yard, plant and maintain flowers — and, yes – they are those who pick up the disabled and bring them to lodge meetings, see to the transportation and other needs of the widows and others who are less fortunate for one reason or another. While talking about his idea, Brother Hanna was sitting in “the red chair” twiddling between his fingers a small golden trowel that was given to Brother Harvey’s father-in-law several years ago when he purchased lots at a Dallas cemetery. The proverbial “light came on” and Brother Hanna said: “We can call it the “Golden Trowel Award.” That is the way it happened, and it has been carried forward ever since.


Introducing the 2015 Hill City Lodge Holiday Ornamment

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Please think about the wonderful work of the Lodge in your holiday planning.

Past Master Philippe Dewailly, who is a master jewelry designer, has hand crafted a beautiful Christmas ornament for our 2015 Holiday Fundraiser.  He has created 2 versions, one in pewter and one in sterling silver.  The cost of the pewter will be $20 and the sterling silver will be $60.  These beautiful pieces will be available at the Lodge in a couple of weeks.  If you cannot come by the Lodge to pick yours up – and we would love to see you – please contact Lodge Secretary Oscar Orum for more information.  All the money raised will go to the Toys for Tots.  Last year we raised $1,200.  With more time this year, we can do better than that. This is a worthy cause and a beautiful ornament.  Let’s keep the tradition going strong.  Thanks again to PM Dewailly for this beautiful piece of art.

–  Chuck Stewart, Worshipful Master
Hill City Lodge #456


Community Service Update


The new year has come, and with it new opportunities to serve our fellow man. For the first half of the Masonic Year, Hill City Members donated 336.75 hours of their free time to service outside the lodge for the betterment of their communities. Below is the list that will periodically be updated throughout the year. Have you performed any community service hours? Contact Charles Maddox, the Junior Warden, at

Brother Number of Hours
Robert Andrews 76.25
John Baylor 50
Lee Kinser 36.5
Chuck Stewart 36
Justin Dressen 32
Philippe Dewailly 28
Bob Wheeless 24
Ken Nicholas 21
Don Jarrell 10
Charles Maddox 10
Robert Eschenburg 8
Lance Dean 5
masonrychristmas bell2

Charity Committee Is Formed

The Worshipful Master, Philippe Dewaily, has formed a Charity Committee for the upcoming Holiday Season. The committee chairmen are Jason White and Luke Michels. The first planning meeting of the committee was held on Saturday, September 6. The committee voted to have a toy drive for the benefit of “Toys for Tots” and to raise donations by selling the 1st Annual Hill City Lodge Christmas Tree ornament. Pictured here is a draft of the ornament.

The committee chairmen welcome those of you who want to participate in this wonderful adventure. There is a lot of work to do and a lot of happiness to bestow. Do your part and assist the lodge in making this a successful charity drive. Contact the lodge secretary or a Past Master to find out how to get involved.

The Collection Box decorating session will be on September 23, Tuesday, at the Lodge. Please plan to attend this event. The committee will be producing collection boxes for the toys that are being donated to our cause. The Committee needs the following donations of materials: Old Christmas wrapping paper; box tape, old Christmas package ribbon. If you have any of these materials laying around that you can donate, please bring them by the lodge.


Traveling Gavel Comes to Hill City

On Tuesday, October 9, seventeen Hill City Lodge members visited our wonderful brethren at the T Neal Porter Lodge. it was a great night of fellowship and stated meeting proceedings. In attendance was a visitor from Minnesota, 2 Grand lodge officers, and 17 past masters. PM, Byron Townsend prepared his annual Fried Catfish dinner. During the proceedings, WM, Chris jeans of the T Neal Porter lodge was presented with a several special gifts from Onion Creek Lodge and Hill City Lodge. Onion Creek WM, Raul Sully, presented a custom made gavel and Hill City SW, Philippe Dewailly presented his signature custom made coin. It was a wonderful night of masonry for all in attendance. Hill City Lodge was presented the Traveling Gavel by the Worshipful Master and the brethren of T Neal Porter lodge.

this photo is courtesy of brother David Hill of Hill City Lodge.


2014/2015 New Officers Installed At The Capitol Of Texas House Chamber

ON SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 2014 the Hill City Lodge No. 456 installed new officers for the Masonic year 2014/2015. how to get free backlinks . the installation was very historic because the installation was done by Grand Master, Jerry Martin in the House Chamber of the Capitol of Texas. It was a very enjoyable and remarkable event. The Hill City Lodge officers were installed as part of a joint installation of all lodges in the Masonic District 50 of Texas.

Installed officers of the Hill City Lodge:




SECRETARY                           OSCAR ORUM, PM

TREASURER                           KENT KINCADE, PM

CHAPLAIN                             BOB WHEELUS, PM





MUSICIAN                             BRANDON JENKINS

MARSHALL                            HUNT ARMISTEAD