In this and subsequent articles a prominent Freemason will be featured with a view to giving some insight into a man we know and respect.
Fittingly for the first article the Companion featured is our First Grand Principal and Grand Master, Most Excellent Companion Edward Keenahan.
Edward (Ted) Keenahan was born in Widnes in the United Kingdom and arrived in Australia in 1956 at the age of 11 as part of a family of four boys. At the age of 15 in 1961 Ted commenced employment with the BHP in Wollongong as an apprentice/cadet in the electrical mechanic field. Ted progressed through the ranks of the BHP Maintenance Departments in the same way he undertakes any task he sets his mind to and by dedication, determination and commitment, Ted rose through the ranks to ultimately hold the position of Manager Manufacturing Services Department.
In his managerial role within BHP Steel Ted travelled extensively with the highlight being to Asia and Europe to exchange and gain extensive knowledge in manufacturing maintenance practices. By the 1980’s Ted was developing procedures which were being recognised and acknowledged by Local, State and Commonwealth authorities for the design and maintenance of air conditioning water towers to help prevent Legionnaire’s Disease.
With BHP Steel always ready to support the broader community, Ted’s practical experience and knowledge of bacterial infection of air conditioning water towers and systems was made available to the public at technical forums from Brisbane to Melbourne. In collaboration with Professor Helen Garnett of The Wollongong University Biological Faculty he helped develop standards, later accepted nationally, for a Bacteria Testing Regime for air conditioning water towers. This led Ted to be much in demand presenting papers on the subject around the country.
Ted also found time to serve his country by serving as a National Serviceman from April 1967 to April 1969 serving in Vietnam for twelve months from January 1968 to January 1969, with the Royal Australian Engineers, a service of which he is extremely proud.
Ted has always found time in his life to help in the community. In 1985 he joined the Scouting Movement as an Assistant Scout Leader with the 1st Figtree Group in 1985. Quickly Ted’s leadership qualities were recognised and he quickly rose to District Commissioner in 1990, Assistant Area Commissioner – Special Projects in 1994 and finally to a position on the Regional Team in 1998 until he retired from Scouting in 2001. During his time with the Scout Movement he was also the BHP Steel Liaison Officer for the Mount Keira Scout Camp working closely with the Area Commissioner.
Not content with these community projects, Ted found time to contribute still further to the community in areas such as representing BHP Steel on the Design and Construction Management group responsible for re-developing the Southern Grandstand in the then Wollongong Showground for the Illawarra Steelers and was responsible for part of BHP’s contribution and support.
While he was the Superintendent Electrical Department he managed support for the CANTEEN Cancer Charity with the highlight being arranging for a group of children with cancer to attend the basketball at the 2000 Olympics with side-line seats.
Masonically, Ted’s career has been equally as spectacular as his rise through the ranks of BHP Steel and his community involvement.
Ted was initiated in Lodge Aubrey Halloran No 643 on 28th February 1970 and was Installed as Worshipful Master of Lodge Winston on 16th September 1981. Ted’s Masonic contributions have been recognised within the Craft resulting with the conferral of a number of Masonic ranks culminating in having conferred upon him the rank of Past Assistant Grand Master.
Within our Order Ted has developed an equally impressive record of achievements since joining Wollongong Royal Arch Chapter No 507 SC on 4th November 1972, having been in continuous office to this day within his Chapter and Order since June 1973. In total Ted has been Installed as First Principal five times, four in Wollongong, and once in Macquarie Chapters. In 1981 Ted was the Foundation First Principal of the newly amalgamated Chapter, The City Of Wollongong Mark and Royal Arch Chapter No79, and in 2000 he was the Foundation Second Principal of Macquarie Mark and Royal Arch Chapter N0 186
In 1999 Ted was appointed to Supreme Committee by MEx Comp Kevin Anderson. In 2003 he was elected President of Supreme Committee and during his term of office oversaw the development of a new Constitution, the corporatisation of the Order, the streamlining of the operations of Supreme Committee and Facilitator for the development of the first USGC Strategic Plan “The Key To A Better Future”.
In September 2008 Ted was appointed Deputy First Grand Principal and Deputy Grand Master by MEx Comp Gregory Mason and the following year was elected First Grand Principal and Grand Master of the Order.
Whilst Ted’s achievements within the business world, community, Freemasonry and our Order are many he has always maintained one priority, that being his family.
Ted married his late wife Sandra on 19th july 1969 and they shared a unique moment together as they watched the moon landing on their honeymoon on an island in the Pacific. Ted has two sons, Edward Shaun and Vaughn and is well supported by his daughter-in-laws Karen and Dawn. Ted is fortunate to be able to enjoy the experience of being a grandfather to his three grandchildren, Owen, Noah and Hannah. Whilst we all know who is “the boss” in our Order, Ted readily concedes he knows who is in charge when it comes to his grand-daughter Hannah.
Now Ted Keenahan has retired, in September 2014, from the Office of First Grand Principal and Grand Master a high bar has been left for his successor, Most Excellent Robert Peattie, to reach.