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Opportunities to help others reason DeNigris enjoys being a Mason

VALLEY — John DeNigris, worshipful master of Lodge No. 516, Valley, enjoys being a mason for the many opportunities it provides to help needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas, high school seniors on the way to a college education and aging veterans who served our country in World War II.

DeNigris said the best neighbor one can be is one who goes out of their way to help others.

“My brothers and I do what we can to raise scholarship money throughout the year,” DeNigris said. “This past year we awarded five scholarships. We felt good about that. We love helping Cheryl Myers of the Christian Service Center at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We sponsor two or three families each season and make sure their needs are taken care of.”

DeNigris also helps with a widows’ basket program, doing this a couple of times a year.

“I lost my dad in World War II,” he said. “It has meant a lot to me over the years to meet World War II veterans and listen to their stories. In recent years we’ve taken local veterans from that era out to eat. They were all great guys, but I especially liked Dr. (Charles) Otto. I remember one time when we were going to Golden Corral in Opelika to eat. I had a Music Box playing music from that era in my car, and Dr. Otto was singing along with the songs. He really got into the music of the Ink Spots.”

DeNigris is a native of Wallingford, Conn. Prior to coming to Valley to live in 2002, he was a chef at the Bay Hill Country Club in Orlando, Fla. and had the opportunity to get to know legendary golfer Arnold Palmer and his wife Winnie.

“I was their chef for eight years,” he said. “They were such wonderful people. They treated everyone they knew as equals, What you saw on TV with Arnold was the way he was. He was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Fame didn’t go to his head. He and Winnie were really good to me, and I will always speak highly of them.”

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