When I first met Carl, he was probably already 80 or so, and a bit past his prime; that only underscored how remarkable he was as a ritualist, though. He was a bit frail the entire time I knew him, his voice a little quavery, and he occasionally forgot a line here and there. But he still showed up for Lodge nearly every month, and was still one of the most dependable ritualists I've ever seen -- someone who you could come up to on a minute's notice and say, "Carl, the Senior Warden didn't show up tonight -- can you take his part?" And he could: whether it was just the routine ritual of a quiet night, or serious speechifying for degree work, he could take any part and perform it with aplomb. While I think I'm just a shade more expressive than he was, he was in most ways what I aspire to as a ritualist.
He was dedicated to Masonry in rather the way I am to the SCA: it was his family and his home, and he sometimes indulged it to excess. He told stories of the year he was in the OES grand suite, and was typically out 6 nights a week on Star and Masonic functions. Even in his latter days, he never let his slowing limbs slow down his activity too much, taking on any floorwork (if a bit stiffly sometimes). He was one of the two most inspiring lectors I've seen for charges to candidates (the other being Carl Atlas, who gave me my charge); with both of them gone, I suspect I should start finding some poems that I really like for the job. (Time to track down the Canadian Charge, I think.)
He was well-known and well-loved among the brethren, and the memorial service showed that. For many guys it's all you can do to muster a quorum of a few officers and a few people to walk in with them. Carl's funeral was Sunday afternoon, and was packed, with a full turnout from both of his lodges (Mt. Carmel and Hammatt Ocean). I'd guess that we had around 50 people on the suite, far more than normally show up for a Lodge meeting, and a remarkable number for someone who wasn't a past District Deputy.
He'll be missed. For all that we probably still have 150 members on the books, I'd guess that there are less than two dozen mainstays of Hammatt Ocean, and he was one of them. He was precious, both for his unassuming versatility, and his quiet confidence in the goodness of the work...