Saying goodbye to John W. Scott, a faithful Grange friend and leader


Many of the longer-time patrons of the Grange fraternity in Somerset County will remember the late John W. Scott (1917-2012) from personal visits made to celebrations sponsored by the local subordinate Granges.

Many of his visits were made in the early and middle years of the 1960s while John was serving as the Master of the Pennsylvania State Grange. In that capacity, he received many invitations to attend anniversary celebrations, banquets, and meetings of the many subordinate Granges throughout Pennsylvania. 

John Walker Scott passed away Feb. 10, 2012, at the age of 94 years in the Harrisburg Hospital. Services to celebrate John's life were held Feb. 14 at St. Paul's United Church of Christ at Mechanicsburg. Three long-time Grangers and friends from Somerset County traveled to Mechanicsburg to join other national and state Grange leaders, friends, co-workers and his family.

Local Grangers attending were William H. Ringler, past Master of the Pennsylvania State Grange who continued his long-time friendship with John through regular telephone calls; James F. Mowry, Master (president) of the Somerset County Pomona Grange; and David R. Hay, Lecturer (program director) of the Somerset County Pomona Grange. Each one remembers personal events that include John W. Scott's attendance at Somerset County Grange events.

Hay recalls joining the Hillcrest Grange in Brothersvalley Township in 1963 and beginning attendance at the State Grange Youth Camp the following year, where he had the opportunity to begin a long-standing friendship with Scott and his first wife, Dorothy.

He recalls John Scott being the official speaker at Hillcrest's 50th anniversary celebration in 1966 and likely serving in the same capacity for several other local Granges who also had 50th anniversary celebrations during his tenure in the state office. John and the former Dorothy McCandless were married in 1939 and their marriage lasted until her death in 1994. In 2001, John remarried another long-time Granger, (widow) Helen Paden, who passed away in 2010.

During John's tenure as State Master, the Grange was instrumental in a major reform of the state's eminent domain law. The "Eminent Domain Code of 1964" greatly expanded the protection of landowner rights, insuring for the first time that property owners would receive 80 percent payment within 60 days of the condemnation, without prejudice to their right to seek fair compensation thereafter in court.

John was also directly involved in the adoption of the Susquehanna River Compact which led to the creation of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

After growing up on his grandfather's farm in Allegheny County, where John Scott resided with his parents and sisters, the family moved in 1936 to their farm in Franklin Township, Butler County. John lived there until 1963, when the Commonwealth acquired the farm through eminent domain to add its acreage to Moraine State Park.

John and his first wife, Dorothy moved into the house they built on the farm in the spring of 1940. John operated the family farm with his father until the Commonwealth acquired the farm in 1963. When the farm was acquired by the State, John was elected Master of the Pennsylvania State Grange, at which time he and the family relocated to Mechanicsburg.

In 1968 John W. Scott was elected Master of the National Grange, headquartered in Washington, D.C. For the next 12 years he led the Grange at the national level, crisscrossing the country with Dorothy to build membership and programs, traveling abroad as an ambassador for American Agriculture, and providing counsel to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter. 

While John was the National Master, a commemorative postage stamp honoring the Grange was issued and the Grange satisfied the mortgage on its national headquarters building, the only privately owned structure in the "Federal Square" sector of Washington, D.C.

In 1960 John returned to his Mechanicsburg home. Shortly thereafter he was employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture as the Chief of the Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Division. He retired from the State in 1990 and during his retirement volunteered at the Harrisburg Hospital.

Also in attendance at the memorial service were numerous other national and state Grange leaders which included the following former Pennsylvania State Grange Masters: William H. Ringler, William Steele, Betsy Huber and Fae Snyder, who is the widow of former State Master J. Luther Snyder. Carl Meiss, current Master of the PA State Grange also attended. Bill Steele is also a former Master of the National Grange while Betsy Huber is now legislative liaison for the PA State Grange. 

National Grange Master Ed Luttrell attended, as well as Michael J. Martin, the newly appointed director of Membership/Leadership Development for the National Grange. The leadership entourage also included Anna May Nauss, State Grange youth director; Susan Tau and Doug Bonsall, both past lecturers of the Pennsylvania State Grange, as well as a number of other Grangers in state leadership rolls.

It was a beautiful day for traveling and for enjoying the fellowship among the Somerset County delegation, as well as for paying tribute to a great leader, who always remembered us by name, and retained his friendly disposition and keen mind until (as we say in the Grange) "going home to the great Grange above, where dwells the Great Master of us all."