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Hancock man installed Jan. 20 as Ali Ghan Shrine potentate

February 15, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK - The moment Francis "Fran" Shives had been waiting for - his Jan. 20 installation as the 82nd potentate of the Ali Ghan Shrine - was all that he had hoped for and more.

"The big night is complete and what a superb evening the Shriners provided me and my wife, Sue," Shives said of his installation at the Cumberland shrine.

He further described the event as filled with excitement and overwhelming enthusiasm.

"Sue and I couldn't have asked for a better installation," Shives said.

A very special moment came when Diana Bryan, Shives' former student at Clear Spring Middle School, sang "The Impossible Dream." Bryan is a senior now at Catholic University.

Shives, 60, taught school for 31 years, retiring from Clear Spring Middle School as a science teacher. In addition to his work with the shrine, Shives also is active in the Hancock Lions Club.

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The first potentate from Hancock since Dr. Homer Tabler held the post in the 1930s, Shives said he is eager for any challenge that may come his way.

For the next year, Shives will lead the philanthropic organization in its efforts to serve sick children who need but often can't afford the best medical care.

As an example of the shrine's devotion to its mission, he pointed to Shriner Dick Sanders who has made nearly 300 trips to hospitals with children who need care.

Shives was in his 40s when a friend introduced him to the work of the Masonic shrine.

"I joined the Hancock lodge in 1985," Shives said. Then in 1988, he joined the Ali Ghan Shrine in Cumberland at the suggestion of his uncle.

Shives became very active in 1996 and began moving up through the offices leading to the top job of potentate.

"My theme is 'Keeping Dreams Alive' for my year in office," Shives said, noting he's been working on his agenda for the past two years.

One of his dreams is reorganizing The Highlanders, a bagpipe group within the shrine.

"I have events planned through the whole year," Shives said. "There are people heading the committees and they do their paces."

In time for the ceremony, a wooden sign was created and produced by Noble Frank Welsh, an Ali Ghan shriner, representing Shives' symbol and logo for the year - a dream catcher and the "Keeping Dreams Alive" theme.

Fundraisers are key since it is through the money raised at those events that the shriners are able to support their 22 hospitals around the country.

Among those events during Shives' year as potentate will be a classic car cruise-in, a celebrity auction, two dinner theaters and a New Year's Eve party.

"There is also a really neat fundraiser coming up in June - Beatlemania which will be held at Fort Hill High School in Cumberland," Shives said.

Many of the events are open to the public.

Rather than being concerned about his performance as potentate, Shives said he was confident.

"I've seen four previous potentates and I have borrowed from their styles," he said.

Another demand of the job is keeping up with the plan to attract younger members, Shives said.

"I tell younger shriners they need to get involved," Shives said. With 1,150 members, the Ali Ghan Shrine has lost a number of older members this year.

But Shives said there has been somewhat of a resurgence, with young people joining. He said that's a trend he hopes will continue.

The Masonic fraternity dates back to the 16th century. Shives said the first American shrine was in New York in 1921 and the first hospital was established in Louisiana in 1926.

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