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My five year journey is coming to an end. Each day has been filled with lessons that will last the rest of my life. As with any endeavor there were bad times. Anonymous letters,angry emails, and nasty phone calls were a weekly event. Thankfully I was blessed with thick skin and a positive attitude that carried me through the hard times. In the end the good times outweighed the bad and I am proud to have served the Nobility. I was blessed to serve on the Divan with some great men over the last five years. Dave Yarde, Roger Weaver, Ellis Ryan and Owen Stiles walked the path before me. Each taught me something that helped me make a difference. I want to thank each of you for showing me how to serve. In the end the greatest treasure I leave office with is a wealth of new friends. I never could have dreamed of how many new people I can call true friends. Nothing you can hold in your hands will last. The friends you hold in your heart will last forever.

If you want to place blame on someone for having to tolerate me for the last five years I have their names for you. In 2000 Brad and Don Wadkins sat me down and told me why I would make a great Mason. I jumped in with both feet and never looked back. Brad and I have known each other for 30 years. We have shared many experiences over those years, but the Shrine is my favorite. In 2009 I sat Shannon down and explained to her how I thought I could serve the Shrine. Like everything other decision in my life she said she would support me. After we talked, I called Larry and Jenny Chapel to ask for advice. Larry did not sugar coat what I should expect. He was honest and forthcoming. An hour later I had made my decision. Once again I jumped in with both feet. I tried to never take my foot off the accelerator and keep my eyes forward. I pray I served you with class and dignity.

Before I leave office I want everyone to know what to expect from your future Divan. Your current Chief Rabban, Steve Cowan, is the “numbers guy.” Steve’s business background has enabled him to take and educated look at how we track our money. Sometimes others have been made to be uncomfortable, but Steve has always put the Shrine first. I will be proud to call him my Potentate next year. This year’s Assistant Rabban Gary Soblotne served as my “hospital guy.” I was always confident that I could have Gary represent the Divan at any Van Schedulers meeting or Hospital Unit meeting and he would excel at it.

His love for our Temples of Mercy and the children we serve is unparalleled. Our interests in Chicago and Cincinnati will always be served as long as Gary is allowed to help. Jerry Freewalt simply works harder than anyone else I know. Throughout the year I asked Jerry many times to handle a task. With one phone call I knew it was taken care of. No need to check up. I trust him more than any other Shriner I know. Your High Priest and Prophet is willing to get his hands dirty for the Shrine. Traditionally we do not let our Oriental Guide speak at Stated Meetings. This is really to protect each of us from saying something we would regret. Let me assure you Hal Harting’s silence stopped in the Ballroom. Hal has not been asked to sit and serve quietly. Instead he has stepped forward immediately and started to help steer the Shrine into the future. Expect great things from Hal and he will not disappoint you. Owen Wade is the youngest thinking man of his age I have ever met. As Treasurer he has not only tracked the Temple finances, but he has been the voice of reason in many decisions that affected all of us. You can be confident he will always work hard for our interests. These men will serve us all well. I am excited about the bright future of the Mizpah Shrine Center.

Finally I would like to thank Ron Harruff for all the great counsel over the last five years. I always knew I could go downtown and sit in his office to receive some great advice. Sometimes it was not easy to hear, but he always has the best interests of the Shrine at heart. Sure we have disagreed at times, but that is how any successful organization works. Ultimately the best interests of all of the Mizpah Shrine always won. In the five years that Ron and I served together I never for one second doubted his love for the fraternity. He has continued to give when others faded into the past. We cannot measure the work he has done behind the scenes. I look forward to sitting on Ron’s deck smoking cigars as we both watch the next set of leaders carry us forward.

In closing I would like to thank each and every Mizpah Shriner for allowing me to serve. Let me assure you I am not going to be one of the Past Potentates who disappear after they complete their responsibilities on the Divan. I will continue to help whenever asked. I simply am going to transition into different roles that permit me to continue to help Mizpah serve our community and the kids we care for. Please join me in supporting the leadership of Mizpah in 2014 and the years to come.

Your Humble Servant,
Mike Hardiek, Potentate 2013