“One Day at a Time,” was Dad’s refrain when asked how he was doing. “One Day at a Time” not only satisfied the queries; It spoke volumes about how he conducted his life. Daddy had a quiet and patient countenance that extended grace under the most trying circumstances. “One Day at a Time” is how he conducted every aspect of his life; his walk with the Lord; his relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and adversaries; his journey as a Traveler; but most of all, his guidance and love for his children.
When we were growing up, we thought Daddy was very, VERY stern. He was a man of few words, but when he spoke, his statements were purposeful and intentional. As a result, everyone listened. It was like the old E.F. Hutton TV commercials…When E F Hutton Talks, everybody Listens. With one sentence, Daddy could stop us in our tracks, make us think about our behavior and instantly cause a course correction. “Think before you speak, you sound stupid!” “Don’t envy other people. You don’t know what their success cost them!” “Cheap things are no good and good things are not cheap!” “Spend your money one time: the right way!” “Don’t lend money you’re not willing to give away!” These statements are implanted in our core and continue to govern our walk and talk.
There was no doubt that Daddy was proud of our professional successes, but he was proudest of the love we developed amongst each other.
“I want you to be friends!” , he said time and time again. At times, his desire seemed like a tall order and then One Day, it simply was. We have an unfathomable closeness that awes and baffles others and we know our relationship is unique and exceptionally special. We are our friends!
Though stern with his children and intentional in his familial and professional life, Daddy also loved having a good time. He could cut a rug and it was during his melodic dips and sways to Calypso and Soca music, that he displayed a full-on smile with teeth actually showing.
Even when his distinctive and commanding gait grew dependent on a walker, Daddy would tilt his pelvis, dip his legs, snap his finger to the beat of the drums and then dance like he did in the old days of his youth. His face radiated with joy and we couldn’t stop ourselves from being caught up when we danced with him. This was sheer delight.
We can’t thank God enough for giving Daddy the courage to leave the British colony and emerald island of his birth, Salem Village, Montserrat, the West Indies in 1952. At age 22, he and 2 of his closest friends, George Davis and John Ryan, ventured together into the unknown territories of promise; these United States of America.
Heeding the call for workers to fill agricultural gaps during the Korean War, his sojourn in the U.S. for a better life brought him face to face with Jim Crow practices at the Beaver Dam where he harvested peas and corn for the Green Giant Company; picked cotton in Leachville, Arkansas; harvested grapefruit and oranges in Crescent City, Florida before coming to South Deerfield, Massachusetts where he harvested tobacco.
On weekends, accompanied by George and Ryan, Dad drove his two door 46’ Ford to Dorchester where he stayed with his cousin, Mommy Coleman. It was during one of the trips, that DADDY was introduced to Gracie Ford from
Cambridge. They courted, married and moved to Quincy in August 1954.
Their marriage endured One Day at a Time for over 25 years. Francine, Charlene and Paul are their blessed offspring and Kiana, their grandchild.
Love and obedience to God, dedication to family, honest work, and a staunch commitment to educational advancement governed Daddy’s walk in life. Raised in the Anglican faith, he had a remarkable ability to recite long texts of scripture verbatim. Loud and off key, he would sing every stanza and refrain of gospels and spirituals without hymnals.
Until his body weakened, Daddy quietly prayed on his knees every night before going to bed. He led by example and we were always watching. He worked two jobs and enrolled in the New England Appliance Service School where he learned how to repair washing machines and dryers. Before computerization revolutionized the appliance industry, our father was the “Man” everyone called on when their washer or dryer was on the fritz.
His expectations for himself were transferred to us. He expected good grades. He expected sound judgment. He expected quality in character. He expected responsibility. These expectations were his form of discipline. He led by example. We were always watching and striving to make him proud.
He entered the Brotherhood of the John J Smith Lodge #14 in the Jurisdiction of Massachusetts grounded in these expectations, which enabled him to ascend in the ranks and serve as the 60th Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge. It was while holding this seat that our father attained a monumental achievement. On December 14, 1994, the United Grand Lodge of England voted to Restore the Amity between its lodge and the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.
This settled years of contentious arguments about the legitimacy of all African Lodges formed under Warrant #459, which had been recognized in 1775 as a regular and legitimate Grand Lodge. Hundreds of years later, the United Grand Lodge of England argued that the African Lodge #459 had no power to form other lodges and furthermore was not on the 1813 Register of Lodges. This meant that all African lodges formed would cease to exist.
“Brethren, the wheels of justice grind slowly but surely. Over the years, decades and centuries, Prince Hall Masonry has been under attack by those who have carried malice and prejudice in their hearts against people of color. However, I am proud to say to you this evening that if we just wait on the Lord, He will never leave us or forsake us. We have never asked for anything more than what our forefathers died for; and that is to be proud of our heritage, and to practice the
tenets of freemasonry,” our father stated.
Grand Master Nicholas B Locker refused demands to return the charter. He stood tall against a long period of racial division within the Brotherhood and affirmed that Prince Hall Masonry, as it was, should be recognized. At the December 14, 1994 session, the United Grand Lodge of England ruled,“ Notwithstanding its unusual formation the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts should be considered as regular and be recognized.”
This Restoration of Amity sealed the acceptance of Prince Hall Masonry throughout the country. Two years later, leaders of the Scottish Rite, Northern and Southern, black and white, met for the first time in England.
His faith, values, expectations, commitment and strength is a living testament to the magnificent power of living “One Day at a Time!”
Nicholas B. Locker is predeceased by his parents Samuel Ernest and Caroline Locker, and sister, Baby Locker of Montserrat. He is survived by his ex-wife Grace Ford Locker: Children Francine, Charlene and Paul and granddaughter Kiana Scott-Locker: Cousins John and Doris Locker of London, Hazel Locker of Montserrat, Rose Stevenson of Canada, Margaret Locker of Florida, Joseph Weeks of Mattapan, William “Sheppie” Skerritt of Dorchester and Ethyln Bramble of Philadelphia: Nephews Richard, Andy and Alister Dyer of Florida: hosts of cousins and the family of Free and Accepted Masons internationally.
1974, initiated into John J. Smith Lodge #14
• Worshipful Master John J Smith Lodge #14 (1981-82)
• Worthy Patron John J Smith Chapter #3 O.E.S. (1985)
• Illustrious Commander-in-Chief Holy Sepulchre Consistory #17 (1988)
• Honorary Thirty-Third Degree in the Class of 1988 in Detroit, Michigan
• Director of Scottish Rite Observances for the Orient of Massachusetts
• Imperial Deputy of Membership for the Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
• Worthy Patron John J. Smith Chapter #3 O.E.S. (1985)
• Director of Scottish Rite Observances for the Orient of Massachusetts
• Second Lieutenant Commander of the Massachusetts Council of Deliberation
• Honorary Past Potentate of Syria Temple #31
• Life Member of the Phylaxis Society
• Member of the United Supreme Council Committee on Council of Deliberations and Reports of Deputies
• Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the Caribbean
• The 60th Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Jurisdiction of Massachusetts (1992-1994)