loyalty, and persistence-these words frame the accomplishments
of Sovereign Grand Commander C. Fred Kleinknecht. Today, under
Fred's leadership, the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry carries its
message of individual development, community service, and global
freedom to hundreds of thousands of members.
The Kleinknecht legacy of leadership began with his father, Christian
Kleinknecht, who served the Temple from 1919 to 1970 in many official
positions, including Acting Grand Secretary General. Fred began
his fulltime relationship with the Rite after serving in World
War II. Like many aspiring young men, Fred returned to tackle
the challenge of building a career and a family. In 1947, he took
a job at the House of the Temple, learning about the Rite from
the ground up. This hands-on approach remained Fred's trademark
throughout his 56 years at the Supreme Council.
Within a year of joining the Temple staff, Fred married his childhood
sweetheart, Gene Elizabeth Kamm, a life-partner in the truest
sense. Gene's confidence in Fred's potential was the turning point
in his life. With Gene's encouragement and support, Fred studied
accounting at Benjamin Franklin University and applied his education
to reforming the Council's bookkeeping methods, quickly saving
the Rite tens of thousands of dollars. Fred's initiatives demonstrated
his leadership potential. From accounting, Fred moved up through
numerous administrative positions at the House of the Temple.
C. Fred Kleinknecht,
his two brothers, mother, and father pause for a snapshot
of Fred in his U.S. Navy uniform. Left to right are: Kenneth
S. Kleinknecht; C. Fred Kleinknecht; Nell May Kleinknecht;
Christian F. Kleinknecht, Sr.; and Robert M. Kleinknecht.
In 1949, he began his Masonic journey, joining Maryland's Silver
Spring Lodge No. 215. By 1966, the then current Grand Commander,
Luther A. Smith, placed Fred in positions of increasing responsibility,
leading to Fred's election as Sovereign Grand Commander in 1985.
Immediately, Fred set about repositioning the Order within the
context of a changing world. To accomplish this mission, Fred
said: "Because Freemasonry lives not just for today, but
for generations to come, we must be first class in whatever we
About 1958, Fred poses for a family
photo with his wife, Gene, and children Scott Nelson, Henry
Frederick, and Gene Ellen.
Working closely with his handpicked staff and giving credit where
credit is due, Fred initiated profound innovations in every area
of Scottish Rite endeavor and brought an Ancient and Accepted
Order into the new millennium.
Fred knew that building strength for tomorrow's Rite meant growing
financial support today. With drive and determination, he rebuilt
the Rite's endowment infrastructure and helped generate 47 state
and local Scottish Rite Foundations. Fred's commitment to securing
a sound financial future benefited the House of the Temple itself.
He established the House of the Temple Historic Preservation Foundation,
Inc., and in just 12 years, its endowment enabled innovations
such as creating the Pillars of Charity Alcove and the Scottish
Rite Hall of Honor to recognize major donors to the Rite.
On September 16, 1969, Ill. C. Fred
Kleinknecht, 33°, then Grand Secretary General and S.G.I.G.
at Large, greeted Astronaut Ill. Edwin E. "Buzz"
Aldrin, Jr., 33°, to the House of the Temple.
The annual Scottish Rite Cal-endar Program, an effort Fred began
14 years ago, has enabled much-needed improvements, including
reconstruction of the Temple's damaged grand entrance steps and
completion of the Cornerstone of Freedom Hall, the Hall of Scottish
Rite Regalia, the George Washington Memorial Banquet Hall, the
Burl Ives Room, the Americanism Museum, the just-dedicated Albert
Pike Museum, and, most of all, the total renovation of the Rite's
most valuable scholarly resource, the Supreme Council Library.
Inspired by Fred's leadership, Brethren rallied to support the
House of the Temple, the finest architectural masterpiece of the
Scottish Rite in America and the modern headquarters for our Order.
||On February 11, 1988, President
Ronald Reagan welcomed Grand Commander Kleinknecht to the
Similarly, Fred, as Editor-in-Chief of the Council's publications,
set new records:
- publishing 18 major books
- distributing more brochures and booklets than any previous
- founding the Scottish Rite Research Society with its 10 volumes,
to date, of scholarly articles
- modernizing and renaming the Scottish Rite Journal,
now in full color and reaching nearly half a million readers
- producing four major videotapes
- creating an influential Internet site
- and streamlining the Pike Degrees for modern audiences around
A leading advocate for Masonic Unity, Fred broke new ground in
fraternal relations by officially presenting a copy of our revised
standard Pike ritual to the Supreme Councils of Prince Hall Scottish
In an era of declining membership, Fred created dynamic programs
bringing new Brethren to our ranks.
Wanting to debunk long-standing fictions about Freemasonry, Fred
manned an aggressive and winning campaign against an extremist
faction within the Southern Baptist Convention that wished to
Ill. Ernest E. Borgnine, 33°, Grand
Cross, was Ill. Kleinknecht's very special guest at the
1991 Biennial Session.
Similarly, Fred took unprecedented steps to heal misunderstandings
between Freemasonry and the Roman Catholic Church. Through personal
conferences with high Vatican officials in Rome and in Washington,
he set the cornerstone for building cordial relations between
the two great institutions.
Internationally, Fred boldly initiated new Scottish Rite relations.
He appointed a Deputy to oversee Western Europe and Africa, restored
a regular Scottish Rite presence in Portugal, established new
Supreme Councils in Togo and the Ivory Coast, and reestablished
the Scottish Rite in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Poland, Russia, Slovenia, and Romania. On May 31, 2003, the President
of Romania recognized Fred's contribution by awarding him that
country's highest honor, the Romanian Star.
At home in the U.S., the Rite responded to a nation in need.
Imme-diately following the terrorist attack on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon, the Southern Jurisdiction pledged $1
million to the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund to assist
children and spouses of 9/11 victims.
The work of the Rite continues with major initiatives focusing
on the RiteCare Childhood Language Program, whose Golden Anniversary
we celebrate this year. In 1953, 14 children were treated in the
Valley of Denver. Today, in over 170 clinics, we treat over 28,000
children every year.
These few facts, briefly sketched, highlight only a small portion
of Ill. C. Fred Kleinknecht's 18-year tenure as Grand Commander,
a tenure exceeded only by Grand Commanders Albert Pike and Henry
A family man who values his wife, children, and grandchildren
above all else, he extends that love and loyalty to his church,
country, Freemasonry, and, most of all, to the Scottish Rite.
Rapid and resolute, Fred rejuvenated the Scottish Rite and inspired
dynamic activity in every area of our Order's mission.
Thank you, Fred, and thank you, Gene, "First Lady of the
Scottish Rite." With grace and style you have supported our
Order's accomplishments as an ambassador to the world.
The Kleinknecht legacy of leadership will inspire us for generations
to come. On behalf of Freemasonry and the Scottish Rite, thank
you, Fred, and thank you, Gene!