M.W. Robert J. Stika Biography 2008
Most Worshipful Brother Stika served the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Connecticut as its 162nd Grand Master in 2008. His Masonic career spanned thirty-four years during which time he was honored as a recipient of the Pierpont Edwards Medal in Bronze. He passed away on Monday, October 6, 2014.
Robert J. Stika was born on June 29, 1944 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the eldest of five sons of A. John Stika and Doris Marie Gray Stika. Two of Bob’s brothers are also Masonic brothers. Bob’s dad died in 1981 and his mom in 1984.
Educated in the Kenosha public schools, Bob graduated Mary D. Bradford High School in 1962. He attended Kenosha Technical Institute, receiving an Associate of Arts Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on data processing. He graduated in the first data processing class and, yes, they did have computers back then.
Bob’s working career began in 1964 at the Electronics Supply Office, Great Lakes, Illinois. The single significance of this move was his introduction to his future wife, Sandy. Bob joined the US Navy in September 1965, and Bob and Sandy became engaged the following Christmas. They married in August 1966.
After boot camp, Bob was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia for eight years, working as an electric accounting machine operator, computer programmer, and systems analyst. He transferred to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in Washington, D.C. After 4 years in the Active Enlisted Plans Branch as a programmer/analyst, Bob transferred to the US Naval Facility, Royal Air Force Base, Brawdy, Wales, United Kingdom for what he considers two of the best years of his naval career. His appreciation for history resulted from this tour of “Great Britain,” as opposed to simply “England.”
Bob transferred to the Naval Submarine School, Groton, Connecticut and the ADP Division as leading chief and eventually division director. His retirement from the Navy came on October 15, 1985. While on active duty and for several years after, he was heavily involved with the Junior Bowling Association of Southeastern Connecticut and director of the junior bowling program at the Groton Submarine Base.
After retirement, Bro. Stika worked for several companies as a civilian contractor to the Naval Underwater Weapons Center (known to most as Sound Lab). In 1997 he was employed by Computer Sciences Corp. as a programmer analyst and then as a project manager in General Dynamics. Bob fully retired in 2006 at the ripe old (?) age of 62.
When Bob met Sandy in 1964, she worked days and he worked midnights, so he didn’t get much sleep. After they married and moved to Norfolk, Sandy wanted a pet, so they got a cat. Unfortunately, it got out one day and was killed by a car, so Sandy decided it was time to tell Bob they were going to have a different kind of ‘pet.’ Son Bill was born in June 1967. Then they got their first dog. In March 1970, daughter Anne was born on Bob’s grandparents’ Golden Wedding anniversary.
After retirement from the U.S. Navy, the Stika’s settled in southeastern Connecticut – Bob had a job offer, and had told his kids that wherever they started high school they would finish there. Bill and Anne being only 3 years apart, that turned into a 7 year commitment. By that time Bob was well-established in his present home and job. Also, Sandy has worked for the Navy Exchange for nearly 30 years. (Those using the gas station on the base see her there, probably more than Bob does).
Bob Stika petitioned Somerset Lodge No. 34, now Somerset-St. James No. 34, in 1980 on the recommendation of Bro. Henry (Hank) Reel, so this is all Hank’s fault. The investigating committee included WM Ken Ayers, Senior Deacon Bruce Jaxheimer, and RW C.A. Duke. As Bob says, “they had the chance. Now look at what happened!” Asked to join the officer line, Bob dragged his heels for two years because he was on active duty. He finally consented in 1982. Because of others being transferred and other circumstances, Bob was installed Worshipful Master in 1984.
After his year as Master, Bob was installed chaplain but spent so much time as Senior Deacon that he was elected Junior Warden the next year. He progressed back into the Oriental Chair in 1988. Deciding not to be Master again, Bob volunteered to take the secretary’s station, which he has held for 14 years.
In 1991, Bro. Stika was appointed as District Deputy for District 8A, with WB C.A. Duke as his Associate Grand Marshal. During his term as District Deputy he was extended an honorary membership in King Solomon Lodge No. 7 in Bellows Falls, Vermont. The next year he became a dues-paying member.
In 1999 then Most Worshipful Grand Master Roger W. Read asked Bob to succeed him in the Grand Lodge line. Not really knowing what he was getting into, Bob said yes. After installation as Grand Junior Steward in 2000, he started learning a life-changing lesson too late, “Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!”
Bro. Stika is a member of the Valley of Norwich, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite; Hejaz Grotto, M.O.V.P.E.R.; York Rite bodies in Stonington; New London Masonic Club; National Sojourners, Inc., New London Chapter; and served as a member and Master of the Naval Submarine Base Fellowcraft Degree Team for over twenty years.
He joined Nemrod Grotto, primarily because of Duke and his balloons. Bob became a clown with the unit, almost before he was initiated. He gave up clowning around – in costume – because of health problems.
Other service to the Grand Lodge of Connecticut includes: member of the ad-hoc secretary’s committee under the chairmanship of RW Russ McClelland; current chairman of the configuration control board of the Grand Lodge website.
Bob Stika has enjoyed life as a Freemason for the brotherhood he has found and the friends he has made. Bob feels Freemasonry is the greatest organization in the world and advises everyone to follow his slogan: FREEMASONRY – LIVE IT!