As a young boy, Mike Thibodeaux
remembers tearing around the Masonic campground outside the Riverside Date Festival, a piece of paper taped to his back that read “Bill Stovall’s grandson” – referring to his well known grandfather, California’s grand master in 1994-95. “I’ve been exposed to Freemasonry since the day I was conceived,” Mike jokes.
Today, his 4-year-old daughter, Idy, and 2-year-old son, Michael Jr., are reenacting the scene at San Diego Lodge No. 35 where Mike is a past master. “They run around like crazy during the stated meeting dinner,” he says. “They’ve been coming to lodge so long that they have their own name place cards.” When Thibodeaux served as grand standard bearer last year, he was moved by Grand Master M. David Perry’s family-oriented focus. “Involving kids keeps everyone young,” he says. “We get to help them form a relationship with Masonry. They’re the next people coming up.”
Mike is a “Let’s Write the Future” campaign Pace Setter donor and an enthusiastic advocate for Masonic philanthropy. He also serves on the fraternity’s Public Schools Advisory Council, which includes interviewing students for the Investment in Success scholarship, a cause at the heart of why he gives.
“A young person may be the next inventor or senator; someone who’s going to impact society. But they need help,” he says. “That’s the core of what Freemasons do. We help people in need and we try to better society.”
Masonry has been in your family for a century. How did that shape your path to the fraternity?
I’ve had my fair share of Masonic activities! I remember my grandfather teaching me to work the stage equipment and curtains at the Scottish Rite temple. I was in DeMolay. I drifted away from the fraternity in high school and the years I served in the Navy, but then I made a U-turn back to it. While it would be impossible to fill my grandfather’s shoes, I still want to give it 100 percent. Now my kids ask, “Are we going to stated meeting today?” Masonry is part of their lives, the way it was always part of mine.
What’s a favorite fraternity memory from recent years?
My mom and dad moved a few years ago, and my father asked for help connecting with a lodge nearby. I asked around for him, and went with him to a stated meeting. I was there to help him meet his new brothers. My dad is getting more involved in Freemasonry, and I got to be part of it. That’s impactful.
You serve on the California Masonic Foundation board, which oversees fundraising for California Masonic charities. How have these experiences been meaningful to you?
I feel lucky that I get to see behind the curtains: I can experience the fraternity’s good work firsthand, and it’s rewarding to understand that people volunteer their time and effort because they really care. I can see the good that our brothers’ hard-earned money is accomplishing. I’m adamant in saying that every single penny is going to a good cause, and managed in a way that will improve society. Our charities really live up to Masonry’s mission.