Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Judice named Community Builder by BC Masons

Monday night Michelle Judice of Bridge City was honored with the highest award given to a non-Mason, the Community Builder award, at the Bridge City Masonic Lodge #1345 by worshipful master Reese Forse.

The lodge committee distinguishes one community builder (one person that has made an impact on the community) at least once a year. Forse said the pandemic did prevent them from presenting one for a few years. Their selection is then passed on to the Grand Lodge of Texas in Waco, where the award is sanctioned.

Judice was nominated for her many years in the teaching profession, not only at Lamar State College – Port Arthur, but for her years as a substitute teacher at Bridge City and as a teacher for the local criminal justice system.

"Today we celebrate Dr. Judice not only for her professional achievements but also for her unwavering dedication to serving others and reaching out to our community," said Forse. "Thank you for being a shining example of what it means to be a true community builder."

Judice wasn't sure how she came to their attention, she said she believed it was due to a surprise award she received in May from Texas State Representative Christian Manual, whom she had previously taught. She said it was a back-to-school meeting and they were told there was a guest speaker who wanted to come up and say a few words.

"Manual went up to the podium and started talking about a teacher that he had that made a big difference in his life and I started praying 'please God don't let it be me,'" said Judice.

It was. "His closing was about how challenging the class was and how high the bar was set and then he ended with, 'I remember her closing words to me as I walked out the room,' and I was thinking, 'Oh please God no, let me have said something nice.'"

Manuel said, "She told me that wherever I went for the rest of my life that any writing I left behind or sent to anyone would speak and represent me and say who I was," he said, "and I've always remembered that."

Judice stated her husband, Al Judice III, was discussing this and some of her other accomplishments with a friend, who happened to be a Mason. She thinks this is how it came about.

Forse said Johnny Montagne was the member that brought her name to the selection committee. Once the selection committee decides, the entire lodge votes on it then sends it up the ladder to the Grand Lodge.

Judice said she tried to decline the honor and suggested they pick a first responder and even supplied them with worthy names, but she was told it was a done deal.

She accepted with gratitude. She spoke of coming from an extremely poor family, but she didn't know it. She thought everyone ate government cheese and powdered milk growing up.

"I googled the Masons because I thought 'well let me really see what they're about' and so the words integrity, fortitude, kindness, and moral character came up and I thought 'wow, I think I learned a little bit about those.'" She asked herself, "Who taught me about those wonderful characteristics? My grandmother."

She lived with her grandmother for five years and her grandmother instilled in her to never forget where you came from. She instills that in her students. Everyone has a story and she teaches them how to write their story, she helps them smooth out the rough edges.

Most of her family was on hand including her eldest son, Al Judice III, who owns area restaurants, and her daughter, Alicia who teaches at Bridge City High School. They have a third son who is a banker in London.

After the ceremony everyone enjoyed gumbo, boudin balls, potato salad, chicken salad sandwiches and cake.


Things you may not have known about the Masons.

1.The Bridge City Masonic Lodge #1345 donates to the BC/OF Ministerial Alliance, participates in the Electric Light Christmas Parade, awards four $1000 scholarships each year to Bridge City and Orangefield schools, delivers dental kits to six schools each year as part of the Fantastic Teeth program. The lodge also started a life vest station at the Bridge City boat ramp where boats can borrow extra life vests if needed.

2. All Masonic Temples are situated east to west to mimic the first temple built that was east to west to catch the winds.

3. In all their ceremonies everything is memorized, there's nothing written down. It has been passed down, word for word since the time of Mosses.

4. The term "black-balled" comes from the Masons. Voting was done with white and black balls. Three or more black balls prevent a candidate from admission to the Masons. Today the black ball has been changed to a black cube, but the method still applies.

5. Friday the 13th being unlucky comes from the date when Masons and Templars were slaughtered after the French convinced the Pope to declare them heretics.

6. The secret handshakes and passwords came about because people were masquerading as Masons due to the fact Masons could travel to other countries freely.

These fun trivia facts were presented by 32nd degree Mason Curtis Anderson, current secretary of the BC Lodge.


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