Westchester, CA 2050

The Fifties

Early in 1957, in keeping with the Grand Lodge Program of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks to promote Elkdom by the formation of new lodges so that every community could be served, Brother George B. Hutchinson, P.E.R. of Inglewood Lodge #1492, the then District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler of the South Central Coast District, proposed to the Past Exalted Rulers' Association, the institution of a new Elks' Lodge in the Westchester area. From this meeting came the appointment of Bro. Ray D. Conover, resident of Westchester, as Chairman of the organizing committee. The first meeting of the organizing committee was held in the Buggy Whip Cafe on April 15, 1957. Articles in the Westchester papers invited all those interested to attend. Response was encouraging and meetings were continued at the Buggy Whip for the next three Tuesdays.
Officers elected were: Ray D. Conover, Chairman; Bob Johnson, Secretary; Wiley F. Mathis, Treasurer; C. F. Van Loozen, Membership Chairman; Ed Ryan, Investigation Chairman; Richard Allen, Sgt. at Arms.
The group had become too large for the Buggy Whip; and through the cooperation of the Westchester Women's Club, arrangements were made to rent their clubhouse at 8020 Alverstone for Tuesday night meetings. All subsequent meetings were held there until March 31, 1959.
Institution of Westchester Elks Lodge was assured when Grand Exalted Ruler, Fred L. Bohn, on July 13, 1957 granted Dispensation to form Westchester Elks Lodge No. 2050 upon the request of 78 Elks.
This resulted in the Organizing group beginning a concentrated drive to secure applicants for memberships as Charter Members with Institution set for Saturday, September 28, 1957, to be held at Inglewood Elks Lodge.
From the original 78 petitioners for dispensation, a total of 202 candidates were ready for institution. There were 84 Demits and Certificates of Release and 118 candidates for initiation.
With Past District Deputy Geo. B. Hutchinson in charge, 187 Charter Members were present for institution ceremonies, September 28, 1957. Grand Lodge officers were composed of Past Exalted Rulers from the 17 Lodges of the South Central Coast District of which Westchester Lodge No. 2050 became the 18th Lodge. Exalted Ruler, Ted Douillard, and Grand Lodge officers performed initiation of the candidates.
The following Charter Officers of Westchester Elks Lodge No. 2050 were installed by Past District Deputies of the District with George E. Hutchinson as Grand Exalted Ruler: Exalted Ruler, Ray D. Conover; Esteemed Leading Knight, Charles W. Pearson; Esteemed Loyal Knight, Cyril F. Van Loozen; Esteemed Lecturing Knight, Ed. D. Ryan; Secretary, Robert C. Johnson; Treasurer, Wiley F. Mathis; Tiler, Al Rice; Trustees: Charles King, F. A. (String) Hollingsworth, Kim Albertson, S. H. "Penny" Bellue and Leonard Bonner; Esquire, Wm. Carlson; Chaplain, James Lynch, Jr.; Inner Guard, John Burgo; Organist, Austin "Jay" Jones, Jr.; Assistant Esquire, Milton Smith, and Assistant Chaplain, Charles W. Rogers.
Commemorating our institution, Brother Larry Meyer, provided at no cost, a suitable Charter Member and Dispensation reproduction, listing the program in full.
In addition to the monetary assistance of Brother Meyer, another outstanding assistance was given in the form of weekly Raffle prizes by Brother Herman Frank during the organizing period.
Membership increased to 251 members when Bro. Charles W. Pearson, on April 1, 1958, was installed as the second Exalted Ruler of Westchester Elks Lodge #2050. The time had now arrived for the members to think about a permanent home of their own. It was found impossible to find adequate quarters to rent, so Bro. Pearson with his officers decided to take the calculated risk of financing and erecting a building for "2050". Arrangements were made with the Fritz Burns Company for a long-term lease-option on a beautifully located piece of property at 8025 W. Manchester Blvd., Play Del Rey. Bro. Chas. King was appointed chairman of the building committee, Jim Lynch in charge of engineering and Dick Allen, financing. Under the direction of Exalted Ruler Chas. Pearson a Building Corporation was formed, known as WELBA, Inc. (Westchester Elks' Lodge Building Corp.). Building bonds of five-year duration, carrying 6% annual interest were subscribed by the members in the amount of approximately $54,000.00. The additional $10,000.00 needed to build and furnish the building was forwarded from the Lodge Treasury, having been raised by dances and other special events.
An architect was engaged, bids taken, and a contract awarded to Palisgaard Construction Company. On October 28, 1958, the Lodge was informed that the contractor was setting stakes and starting foundations.
Formal ground breaking ceremonies were held on Nov. 8, 1958 with members and their families attending.
The partially completed building was dedicated on Sunday, February 1, 1959, by then Grand Exalted Ruler, Horace R. Wisely, and a group of Grand Lodge officers. The first social function, a "Dedication Dance" was held in the new Elks' Home on Saturday March 21, 1959. Over 500 members and guests attended this first affair and needless to say, it was a rousing success.
It was a proud and happy night on March 31, 1959, when the first regular meeting of the Lodge was held in their new home. A class of 26 new candidates was initiated with Exalted Ruler Chas. W. Pearson, presiding at his last meeting in the building he had been so instrumental in creating.
On April 7, 1959 new Exalted Ruler, Cyril F. Van Loozen and his corps of officers were installed, starting their Lodge year 1959-60 with 301 members on the rolls.
The following month, on May 26, 1959, 44 candidates, the largest class in the history of the Lodge, were initiated. From April 1959, to April 1960, Exalted Ruler Van Loozen and his corps of officers devoted themselves to integrating the Lodge into their new building and increased the membership to a total of 399.
On April 5, 1960, Exalted Ruler Ed D. Ryan and his corps of officers were installed, pledged to a program of increased membership, increased interest and activities and decreased indebtedness.
The board of directors of WELBA was reorganized, Richard Allen being elected President; C. F. Van Loozen, Vice President; Robert R. Dreibus, Secretary; John Zeches, Treasurer and Accountant; with James R. Lynch, Herman Frank, Jason Gale and Ed Ryan as Directors; Jason Gale, Attorney.