History informs us that at the beginning of the century, a large herd of elk descended upon the sprawling community of Riverside, which then had a population of some 8.000 people. The inhabitants were not alarmed, for these elk were the two-legged species, members of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Seventy-one local signers of a petition to establish a Lodge of Elks in Riverside marched up to the Santa Fe depot to welcome their visitors. Two hundred seventy-five Elks poured out of the special trains. They came from Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Redlands, San Diego and elsewhere. Redlands Lodge No. 583 sent its band which led the parade of more than three hundred, westerly on Eighth to Main Street, then south to ninth and Main Streets to the Odd Fellows Temple. It was here that Riverside Lodge No. 643 B.P.O.E, was instituted on February 4, 1901.
At the conclusion, the Elks betook themselves to the National Guard Armory, where an elaborate banquet was served by Al Levy of Los Angeles. The hall was gaily decorated, and at one end were the four letters B. P. O. E. formed by colored electric lights. Quoting from the record: " . . . the 350 Elks sat down to as pleasant a banquet as has ever been served in Riverside." Further quoting: "At a late hour the banqueters adjourned, the visitors going home on their special trains, and the young members going home to dream of the mysteries of Elkdom lately propounded to them."
The original officers of the Lodge were: Exalted Ruler: H. T. Hayes Esteemed Leading Knight: B. F. Coons Esteemed Loyal Knight: Frank D. Lewis Esteemed Lecturing Knight: W. W. Phelps Secretary: S. D. Pelton Treasurer: G. E. Bittinger Esquire: A. A. Wood Chaplain: Harry B. Chase Inner Guard: G. H. Brown Tiler: A. E Carroll Organist: C. B. Wingate Trustees: W. R Dowler, F. T. Morrison, M. J. Twogood.
Brother L. V. Hays served the Lodge as Exalted Ruler for four consecutive terms, 1901-1904.
Brother L. V. Brown next served during 1904-1905. During his year our Lodge was host to Grand Exalted Ruler Joseph T. Fanning and Past Grand Exalted Ruler Meade D. Detwiler. The event was attended by delegations from all Lodges in our District.
Brother A. N. Wheelock served as the third Exalted Ruler, 1905-1906. It was during his term that purchase was made of all assets of the Rubidoux Club for $2,000.
Brother C. P. Hancock followed as Exalted Ruler, 1906-1907. During his term the Lodge continued to grow and prosper, and firmly planted itself into our community.
Brother A. A. Wood, our first Esquire, served as the fifth Exalted Ruler, 1907-1908, during which, efforts were made to purchase a clubhouse site. These plans did not ultimately materialize however.
To the time of Brother Myron M. Milices term as Exalted Ruler, 1908-1909, all Lodge meetings were held in the I.O.O.F. hall. During Brother Milices administration, arrangements were made with the Rubidoux Building Company for the former Rubidoux Club rooms. Thereafter, all business and social meetings were held in the new clubrooms.
Past Exalted Ruler, Brother A. L. Woodill, guided the destiny of the Lodge during 1909-1910. A large delegation attended the Grand Lodge Convention in Los Angeles that year. Brother Woodill made a lasting impression on the eastern delegates by providing oranges, which were distributed during the parade. Large classes of candidates were initiated, resulting in a year-end total of 320 members. This same year our Lodge received its first National appointment, being that of P.E.R. Wheelock as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler. Brother Wheelock became so perfect in his ritualistic work that many demands were made upon him throughout Southern California to install the newly elected officers of sister Lodges.
Brother F. H. Spiech served as the eight Exalted Ruler, 1910-1911. Two lots on the northwest corner of Market Street at Whittier Place were purchased as the site for a future clubhouse. Today this property is occupied by the Sterling Savings and Loan Association.
During Brother Frank D. Lewis' year as Exalted Ruler, 1911-1912, arrangements was made to hold the Memorial Service for our departed Brothers in the Music Room of the world famous Mission Inn. After witnessing our first service, Mr. Miller promised that during his lifetime, our Lodge would be granted the use of the Cloister Music Room gratis for these services. They continued to be so held the first Sunday in each December. After Mr. Miller's demise, we were extended this same courtesy by his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. And Mrs. Dewitt V. Hutchings, both of whom were active in the management of the Inn for many years.
Brother Frank Wolcott served as the tenth Exalted Ruler, 1912-1913, during which the Lodge continued to make a steady gain in membership.
Brother P. T. Evans, father of Ex-Mayor W. C. Evans, although elected Exalted Ruler, 1913-1914, only served one-half year when he found it necessary to resign.
Brother Fred W. Thomas subsequently completed Brother Evans' term.
P.E.R. Milice installed his brother-in-law, Frank A. Gardner, as the twelfth Exalted Ruler, 1914-1915. Brother Gardner was very active in the Lodge's affairs and was one of our "wheel horses" during his span of membership.
Brother J. H. Burtner was installed as the thirteenth Exalted Ruler, 1915-1916, by Past District Deputy G. E. R. Wheelock, this being his ninth such installation. It was this year that the Eleventh and Main Street clubhouse was purchased. Action was taken to borrow $30,000 to cover the purchase price and for furniture, fixtures, enlarging and remodeling. A well attended, dedication ceremony was held on July 9, 1915.
Brother Otto A. Lowentrout followed as the fourteenth Exalted Ruler, 1916-1917. Due to World War I, the Lodge year of 1917-1918 was a trying one, but under the leadership of Exalted Ruler George A. Sarau, a perfect score was recorded. Because of their ritualistic perfection, many Southern California Lodges, including Los Angeles 99, to initiate their candidates called upon this year's corps of officers. Charity, the Cornerstone of our Order, was practiced to the highest degree. It included letter writing and packages to the boys in the service, lodging and sustenance to families in our area, Christmas baskets with food and clothing to deserving families, and over forty tons of coal provided for needy families.
The effects of the war continued to plague Brother J. C. Cooper, our sixteenth Exalted Ruler, 1918-1919. The holding of group meetings was prohibited by ordinance during a large portion of the year due to an unprecedented severe Spanish influenza epidemic. But, like his predecessor, Brother Cooper recorded a perfect score.
Brother R. P. Schultz served as Exalted Ruler during 1919-1920. Undoubtedly one of the finest appointments ever made from within our Lodge was when our good Brother Eugene F. Kindred was made Chairman of the Sick and Visitation Committee. He held this important assignment until his untimely death in 1947.
Brothers W. C. Davidson and Charles O. Reid very ably served as Exalted Rulers, 1920-1921 and 1921-1922, respectively. Numerous classes of candidates were initiated during Brother Davidson's year, which closed with a total of 508 members. The National Convention was held in Los Angeles during Brother Reid's year. Our Lodge did much to entertain the delegate trains routed through Riverside. We were well represented at the Convention.
During 1922-1923, our Lodge won the Southern California Ritualistic Championship under the leadership of Exalted Ruler Hugh H. Craig. His victory was short lived for five months after installation, the Great Ruler of the universe called Judge Craig to sit in his court.
Brother E. B. Criddle filled out the unexpired term and was elected for the following year 1923-1924. The initiation fee was increased from $25 to $50. Plans were considered for the sale of the Eleventh and Main Street property, creation of a bond issue, and the aggregate proceeds were to be used for building a new clubhouse on the Market Street property.
During Brother W. E. Friend's year as the twenty-second Exalted Ruler, 1923-1924, plans for a proposed clubhouse were submitted, but the building never materialized. P.E.R. Sarau at this time served as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler.
During Brother J. Wesley Shrimp's year as Exalted Ruler, 1925-1926, the Brown property to the south of our clubhouse, was purchased for $18,000, and the Market Street property was authorized to be sold for not less than $30,000.
Our Twenty-fourth Exalted Ruler, R. J. Welch, Sr., 1926-1927, had a very successful year. He was as active following, as during his term, made many Lodge visitations and took in several National Conventions.
During Brother Leonard J. Difani's term as Exalted Ruler, 1927-1928, action was taken to borrow sufficient funds to make repairs and improvements to the clubhouse and to build two handball courts on the Brown property. The courts were placed in use November 21, 1927. Grand Exalted Ruler Frank Malley made an official visitation to this District with our Lodge acting as host.
The initiation fee during Brother W. B. Wells' administration as Exalted Ruler, 1928-1929, was reduced from $50 to $25.
"Old Man Depression" dogged the footsteps of our twenty-seventh Exalted Ruler, Brother A. D. White. His year is recorded as one handled in a very capable manner however, and one ending in a firmer financial position.
It was during the same year that Brother William F. Holmes served his Mother Lodge, San Bernardino No. 836, as its Exalted Ruler. Later, Brother Holmes demitted to our Lodge.
Again, the desire for further clubhouse improvements resulted in action being taken during Exalted Ruler C. N. Funk's year, 1930-1931, to borrow not to exceed $15,000 to retire the then existing $9,000 note and to use the balance for such improvements as the Board of Trustees might decide upon. Subsequent to his term, Brother Funk served as a Trustee for a number of years.
Brother E. B. Criddle served as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler, California South, during Brother W. E. Redwine's term of Exalted Ruler, 1931-1932.
It was during Brother O. R. Vanderhoof's year as Exalted Ruler, 1932-1933, that P.E.R. William F. Holmes, of San Bernardino Lodge No. 836, joined our group as Executive Secretary and Manager of the clubhouse. We were most happy that Brother Holmes continued to be in our midst for a number of years. Heretofore, Lodge meetings were held twice a month, however, action was taken to meet every Monday. Grand Exalted Ruler Floyd E. Thompson was entertained at a noonday lunch and meeting in the Mission Inn.
During Brother Fred L. Hamblin's year as Exalted Ruler, 1933-1934, an Honorary Life Membership was tendered to Brother Kindred in appreciation for his outstanding work as Chairman of the Sick and Visitation Committee. This year, Brother Funk served as Vice President, California South, California Elks Association. Brother J. H. Cresmer was installed as Tiler, which office he held for many years, replacing veteran, Brother Joseph Schneider. Brother Holmes of San Bernardino transferred his membership to our Lodge.
Brother R. J. Asbury served as the thirty-second Exalted Ruler, 1934-1935. Presentation of 20-year membership Service Pins was inaugurated, as was the holding of monthly bridge parties. Brother Asbury was outstanding in his ritualistic work, which later resulted in many requests for installation of other Lodges' Officers, as well as the rendition of the Flag Day Ritual.
It was the pleasure of Brother Alex P. Hansen to be Exalted Ruler of the Host Lodge for California South on the occasion of the official visit of Grand Exalted Ruler James T. Hallinan and Grand Secretary James E. Masters. By special dispensation, Lodge services were held in the beautiful Music Room of the Mission Inn. Brother Hansen served the Lodge for more than two decades as Trustee.
It was during Brother Harmon C. Brown's year as Exalted Ruler, 1936-1937 that, the Trustees were successful in reducing the interest on the outstanding note from seven to five percentum. Interesting meetings were held and Brother Roy E. Simser was elected Treasurer. In grateful acknowledgement of the outstanding contribution having been made and continuing to be made to the life and spirit of our Lodge, an Honorary Life Membership was unanimously voted and presented to our good Managing Secretary, Brother William F. Holmes.
Brother Leon S. Heseman served as the thirty-fifth Exalted Ruler, 1937-1938, Officers and members assisted in the institution of Needles Lodge No. 1608. This year saw the inauguration of: presentation of 35-year membership Service Pins, issuance of the monthly publication "Calling All Elks", awarding of jackpot and door prizes, and holding of the annual "New Members Stag Night." The Lodge enjoyed a net gain of forty-two new members, resulting in a total at the year-end of 300 members. Brother Asbury served as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler. On behalf of the Grand Lodge, Exalted Ruler Edward Hagen, 1938-1939 had the pleasure of presenting Past District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler Asbury with a Certificate of Merit in recognition for outstanding work. Two 35-year and twelve 20-year Membership Service pins were presented.
Our thirty-seventh Exalted Ruler, Brother A. E. Ganahl, 1939-1940, had the honor of presiding at the dedication services and laying of the cornerstone of the new Riverside United States Post Office building, northeast corner of Ninth and Orange Streets. Brother O. K. Morton inaugurated the annual Poly High School Band public concert in the Lodge room. This has developed into one of our finest and highly appreciated civic activities.
Brother W. W. Topham presided as our thirty-eighth Exalted Ruler, 1940-1941. Four 35-year and nineteen 20-year Membership Service pins were presented. The year closed with a total membership of 321.
1941-1942 will long be remembered with Brother Lewis P. Alabaster as Exalted Ruler. The sneak attack on Pearl Harbor occurred lead the United States into World War II and resulted in several changes being made in elective and appointive officers. With these and other trials and tribulations, our corps of Officers won the District, State and National Ritualistic contests. It was during Brother Alabasters term that P.E.R. Friend first became a Trustee; unanimous action was taken to subscribe $1,000 to the Elks National Foundation Fund; and "Tavern Night" was inaugurated. There was not a single meeting without one or more applications for membership being read, 104 new members were initiated and the year closed with a net gain of 88.
During 1942-1943, Brother Frank A. Nelson's year as the fortieth Exalted Ruler, our country was fully engaged in World War II. In July 1942 however, our preceding year's corps of Officers took time off to go to Omaha, Nebraska, to win the National Ritualistic Contest Championship. P.E.R. Welch and his sister were on hand to extend their congratulations. Following the team's return, the Board of Trustee's presented each with an engraved wristwatch. With the winning, went a prize check for $500, which the team requested to be used to install air-conditioning in the clubrooms. Several U.S. War Bond sales were conducted by Esteemed Loyal Knight Ludie Britsch, which resulted in more that $100,000 being sold. Over $1,500 was spent in charitable work, making a total in excess of $30,000 since 1907.
Exalted Ruler, John J. McCarty, 1943-1944 had the pleasure of completing final payment on our first subscription to the National Foundation Fund. Past Grand Exalted Ruler Michael Shannon was honored guest on our 43rd Anniversary and gave a very inspiring address. The first Gold Star was added to our Service Flag, occasioned by the death of our Beloved Brother, Lieutenant Ralph O. Butcher. Ninety-eight brothers donated blood for plasma: three bond sale nights resulted in $671,000 being subscribed; brother Shannon presented leather billfolds to our five living Charter Members, Edward Gunstrom, Honorable George R. Freeman, I. S. Logan, C. I. McFarland and A. N. Younglove; and "Sheepherders' Night" was first presented.
October 2, 1944, was one of the biggest nights in Elkdom for Brother Ludie Britsch, our forty-second Exalted Ruler, 1944-1945. On that occasion, with the same due pomp and ceremony as occurred at the institution of our Lodge, we gained financial independence at the Burning of the Mortgage Ceremony. Many celebrities of the Order were on hand to assist and the Lodge room was crowded to the point of hanging up the S.R.O. sign. War Bond sales continued, bringing the total above $1,000,000. Largest membership to date; and a Riverside Elks Building Fund Committee was selected, which outlined its objectives and a goal of $250,000.
Brother Harold Tiernan very ably served as Exalted Ruler during 1945-1946. Interesting and entertaining meetings were a matter of course. Brother Asbury was presented with an Honorary Life Membership for his long period of meritorious service to our Lodge and to the Order.
Doing good unto others was outstanding during Brother R. B. Edmundsons year as Exalted Ruler, 1946-1947. A motion picture and sound projector was presented to Juvenile Hall, Riverside County's detention home for juvenile delinquents and dependent children. The first iron lung in Riverside County was presented to the Riverside County Foundation for Infantile paralysis. Reports were received that this gift had been responsible for saving numerous human lives. Our outstanding Riverside Elks No. 643 Band was organized and made its debut. On November 25, 1946, our Omaha National Championship Ritualistic Team initiated 97 candidates, being the largest class in the history of the Lodge. Amendments to the by-laws were adopted whereby the Life Membership Fee was increased from $300 to $500, the number of Trustees was increased from three to five and the Initiation Fee for those who had reached their twenty-sixth birthday was increased from $25 to $50. Memorial services were held for our late Brother Eugene Kindred.
Brother James H. St. Clair served as our forty-fifth Exalted Ruler, 1947-1948, Interesting and constructive meetings were held throughout the year. An Elks Junior Bowling Team earned the right to represent our Lodge in the National Junior Bowling Tournament held in Riverside. The Riverside Elks sponsored Junior Baseball Team won the championship of their league. On April 3, 1948, our Lodge assisted in the institution of Hemet Lodge No. 1740, initiated their 150 charter members and installed their new officers.
During 1948-1949, Brother John R. Morrison served as our forty-sixth Exalted Ruler. The Building Fund continued to grow both in pledges and in payments. Long to be remembered meetings were arranged which included "Baseball Night" and "Police Chiefs' Night." The Rehabilitation Committee, serving the Veterans' Hospitals throughout Southern California, was exceedingly active and productive. A float was entered in the De Anza Days Parade. A special class of sixteen candidates was initiated in honor of Brother O. K. Morton.
Square dancing became very popular with the members during Brother Russell S. Waite's year as Exalted Ruler, 1949-1950. Our Lodge won the District Ritualistic Championship and participated in the state finals held in Long Beach. National Newspaper Week was observed with Resolutions of our area. The Lodge received a Charter for its sponsored Explorers Post No. 643 of the Boy Scouts of America. During the year we had a very active pistol team. As a fitting tribute and for his swan song in initiations, Brother Waite had the pleasure of conferring memberships on fourteen of his fellow attorneys-at-law on March 13, 1950.
Brother S. A. "Skip" Fordyce served as our forty-eighth Exalted Ruler, 1950-1951. Lodge visitations were very popular, one in particular having been to Whittier Lodge No. 1258 for the dedication of its new clubhouse. Past G.E.R. Michael F. Shannon visited our Lodge and presented two Elks pins to Brother John F. Buchanan, coming from his uncle, Past G.E.R. Frank Lonergan. The Building Committee worked long and diligently, had plans drawn and specifications completed. Both were passed out for bids. Upon opening the bids, they were found to be considerably higher than anticipated. Consequently all of the bids were rejected indefinitely and the Building Fund goal increased from $250,000 to $300,000. The first Elks civic Award to be presented by our Lodge was given to Dr. Archie Shamel for meritorious community service. Undoubtedly, the outstanding meeting of the year was held on February 5, 1951 when we held our Golden Jubilee, celebrating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Institution of Riverside Lodge No. 643. We now boasted a membership of 1, 106 and to date had invested approximately $70,000 in charitable work. Past G.E.R. L. A. Lewis was in attendance and presented our only living Charter Member, Judge George R. Freeman, with a 50-year pin.
Brother Robert B. Saucke served as the forty-ninth Exalted Ruler during 1951-1952. Authorization was made for a budget of $20,000 for clubhouse remodeling and repairing. Upon completion a grand celebration was held on October 15, 1951. Our Lodge sponsored the City of Riverside effort in a campaign to raise $12,000 to aid in building and equipping the Riverside-San Bernardino Community Blood Bank. Brother Ira C. Landis was chairman. A donation of power tools and machinery was made to the Twin Pines Boys' Ranch. The second Elks Civic Award was presented to Brother and Mrs. V. W. Grubbs, Jr. for their very active participation in civic affairs.
1952-1953 found Brother Arthur W. Swarner serving the Lodge as its fiftieth Exalted Ruler. This year's corps of officers worked its way up to become the State Championship Ritualistic Team. Trustee Alex Hansen presented the team, in addition to the Coach, P.E.R. Waite, and candidate, Brother Dom Tavaglione, with engraved trophies. State plaques were awarded to the following brothers: Dale Kilday as Esquire, Houston Smith as Esteemed Lecturing Knight, Emerson Pann as Esteemed Loyal Knight and Woody Rich as Inner Guard. An Elks Homecoming was held on Saturday, October 11, 1952 with a special meeting and free dinner on the following Monday. P.E.R. Saucke was appointed Grand Esquire to D.D.G.E.R. Ted W. Nelson, California South. Esteemed Leading Knight Cress presented an Elks Scholarship Award to Karen Sue Sedgewick, Poly High Senior. This was the first such scholarship to be awarded preparatory for the time when the University of California establishes its branch in Riverside. The Elks band acted as host to the Second Annual Children's Pop Concert. Brother Lewis P. Alabaster, Chairman of the Building Committee, reported $133,000 in the Building Fund, in the form of money in the bank, government bonds and an investment savings account.
Dr. Carl C. Cress, 1953-1954, served as our fifty-first presiding officer. G.E.R. Earl E. James visited our community. A new Lodge was instituted in Barstow, which was attended by our members. P.E.R. Russell S. Waite served as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for the California South District. In his report information was given that he and our Secretary Holmes had traveled more than 2,600 miles to visit more than 9,000 Elks in the fifteen Lodges in the District. Our Brother, Dr. Henry Clark Smith, was honored on the 40th anniversary of his ordination when over 350 Elks, Rotarians, and members of his church and other interested friends gathered in our clubhouse. A bequeath of over $25,000 was received by the Lodge from the Estate of W. E. Friend, deceased. Brother Friend served as the Exalted Ruler in 1924-1925 and as Trustee from 1941-1951. In July 1953, our previous year's State Championship Ritualistic Team was second to Greely, Colorado, in the National Ritualistic contest held in St. Louis. A check for $250, second prize money, was presented to the Board of Trustees. Palm Springs Lodge No. 1905 was instituted June 19, 1954 with members of our Lodge participating in the ceremonies.
Brother Emerson J. Pann served as Exalted Ruler during 1954-1955. It was during his year that by vote of the membership, it was decided to abandon the Eleventh and Main Street property for the site of a new clubhouse. Subsequently, it was voted to purchase the Charleton property on Brockton Avenue. P.E.R. Vincent H. Grocott, Santa Barbara Lodge, and a Past President of the California Elks Association, served as our Memorial Day speakers. The largest class in the history of Riverside County, that of one hundred ten, were naturalized in our Lodge room. P.E.R. Alex Hansen was elected Vice President of the California Elks Association, while Brother Robert P. Mohrbacker of Long Beach was elected President. The third Elks Scholarship Award was made to George Voelker, Jr. The fourth Elks Civic Award was presented to Brother Philip L. Boyd. To date, approximately $90,000 had been invested in charitable work.
It was during Brother C. Houston Smith's year as Exalted Ruler, 1955-1956, that the Charlton property on Brockton Avenue and the rear adjoining Roper property on Nogales Street were purchased for a new clubhouse site. Subsequently, the Building Committee presented tentative plans for the building. National Newspaper Week was observed. The Lodge presented an American Flag, which had flown over the National Capitol in Washington, D.C. to the Riverside Daily Press during its open house on Friday, October 7, 1955. John Rau was awarded the Elks Club Scholarship during the Flag Day luncheon. Mr. Rau will attend the University of California at Riverside.
Brother L. Dale Kilday served the Lodge as its fifty-fourth Exalted Ruler during 1956-1957, P.E.R. Cress currently acted in an advisory capacity in the Vietnam secondary school system, a federal government undertaking. He is endeavoring to introduce baseball to that Southeast Asian nation. A class of forty was initiated in honor of State President Owen Keown. D.D.G.E.R. Henry Swanson, P.E.R. of El Centro Lodge, and California Elks Association Vice President Les Whaley, P.E.R. Ontario Lodge, made their official visitations. A "Building Fund Clean-up Campaign" was started. The November 23, 1956 issue of Christian Science Monitor carried a full-page illustrated article on the Order's philanthropic work, titled "Millions for Benevolence." Brother J. W. Sherman was appointed chairman of the Major Project activities for the California South District. Compliments were received from the membership as well as State and National Officers for the brochure prepared and issued by our Americanization Committee. Our Brother Lee Backstrand, California State Assemblyman and member of our Americanization Committee spoke to the Lodge on the subject of "Voter Apathy." Brother Ernie Oberschmidt, chairman of the committee, introduced Brother Lee. "Vote Night" was held on August 13, 1956. On this occasion a S.R.O. crowd greeted P.E.R.'s Alabaster and Swarner on the occasion for the membership to take formal action as to plans for the new clubhouse. Definitive plans were submitted and after deliberate consideration, unanimous action was taken to proceed with the building. Ground was broken on November 5, 1956 for our new clubhouse at 6166 Brockton Avenue, Riverside, California. On that same date we assisted in the celebration of the birthdays of Treasurer Roy E. Simser and P.E.R. Skip Fordyce. A drive for $150,000 was currently launched to complete all phases of the new clubhouse and furnishings. The Committee was composed of Brothers Monte Overman, Chairman, P.E.R.'s Alabaster, Edmondson, Swarner, Hansen, with NaDell Jensen, Trustee L. Clay Freeman and Calling All Elks Editor Gib Welch. A four-year scholarship to UCR was presented to James Lowell, Jr.
"His Honor" Elwood M. Rich took over the helm of the Lodge for the year 1957-1958. A Riverside, Mrs. Elaine T. Vergeront, was taking a course in speech therapy at the University of Redlands under a $350 Elks National Foundation fellowship. With the new clubhouse in sight, the initiation fee was increased from $25 to $50, effective July 1, 1957. The Riverside Ritualistic Team placed second in the preliminary District contest. Our Lodge sponsored the new Corona Lodge No. 2045, which was instituted June 11, 1957. The Annual Elks Scholarship Award was presented to Dennis Torchia. P.E.R. Cress gained Oriental news mention by reason of books and money having been donated by students of Riverside Central Junior High to the schools of Saigon, Vietnam. Brother Houston Smith was elected Vice President of the California Elks Association, South District, at the meeting held in Santa Barbara. During this same convention, the Riverside Elks Bowling Team won first place and the championship in the bowling contest. First place carried a cash award of $600 plus a handsome three-foot trophy for the Lodge, with individual trophies for the team composed of Joe Nagy, Chuck Frost, George Briggs, Bob Dawson and Steve Nagy. The final chapter of the Eleventh and Main Street clubhouse was written on February 2, 1958 when the doors were permanently closed for Lodge meeting purposes. The dedication of our new building on Brockton Avenue was held on February 6th, which coincided with the Lodge's Fifty-seventh Birthday, P.E.R. Swarner was in charge of the ceremonies. Open house to the public was held on Sunday, February 9th and the first meeting in the new Lodge room was held on Monday evening, February 10th, 1958. A record attendance was on hand for each of the three events.
Brother NaDell Jensen, 1958-1959, was the first full time Exalted Ruler to serve in the new building. In a very impressive ceremony, the official dedication was held on April 28, 1958 with P.E.R.'s Russell S. Waite and Arthur W. Swarner acting as co-chairmen. In the District preliminary Ritualistic Contest, Riverside Lodge won first place. An active part was taken during the year in the Bloodmobile activities. A new series of dinner-dances was inaugurated with Brother Clinton Bangs as chairman. Two Riverside teachers, Mrs. Joy Binger and Mrs. Helen Salerno, were recipients of $300 scholarships, for the study of the handling of handicapped children. The California Elks Major Project, Inc granted these. Brother Horace R. Wisely, P.E.R. Salinas Lodge, was elected Grand Exalted Ruler at the Grand Lodge meeting in New York. Later in the year he made an unofficial visit to our Lodge. In August 1958, the Library of the Lodge was dedicated to the memories of Ed and Fannie Friend. Active participation was taken in the securing of over 5,000 signatures to petitions for stiffer sentences for narcotics violators. A super colossal rummage sale was held in the old clubhouse November 20-28, 1958 to raise money for the building fund. B rother Gene Stark tendered his resignation as a Trustee by reason of his moving his residence to Laguna Beach, California. Brother G. F. "Jerry" Cooper was unanimously elected to fill out the unexpired term. With major league baseball having come to Southern California, the first of a continuing series of baseball bus trips was made to Los Angeles April 16, 1959, when the Dodgers opposed Brother Bill Holmes' St. Louis Cardinals.
Brother Lloyd B. Sellin served during 1959-1960 as our fifty-seventh Exalted Ruler. The Major Projects Committee report for 1959 revealed that thirty-one therapists were currently serving a caseload of over eight hundred crippled children. Originally, Brother Bill Musso, co-owner of the Plaza's Foods of the World, operated the Lodge's dining room. Brother Mike Graves, well-known Riverside restaurateur, took over the operation during the year. Another new innovation, Mother's Day Dinner, was inaugurated on Sunday, May 10th with over 800 participating. Special bus trips were made to each of the ten home games played in the Coliseum by the L.A. Rams. Brother J. W. Sherman inaugurated a series of Teen Age Dances. The Major Project Committee held an open house in the workshop in the basement. A new Building Fund Committee was formed with Brother Tom Huddleston as chairman, assisted by Brothers John Cote, Wally Ruby, Art Swarner, Harold I. Johnson, Jim Stringfellow and George Cunningham. The Lodge formally voted to accept an offer of $165,000 for the Eleventh and Main Street property, which was offered by the First Western Trust and Savings Bank. That clubhouse was originally built by and for the Riverside Women's Club and sold to our Lodge in 1916. The sale to the bank was placed in escrow during December 1959. The California Elks Major Project report informed that over $170,000 had been received from the Piggy Bank collection effort. Brother Clay Freeman acted as chairman of a Stray Elks Night on February 15, 1960. A number of sojourning brothers attended.
Brother John J. Orlando served the Lodge as its fifty-eighth Exalted Ruler during 1960-1961. Mrs. Eleanor J. Shirr of Riverside was granted an Elks National Foundation Grant towards her study in speech therapy at the University of Redlands. As time progressed, more and more funds were added to the building and furnishings fund. With a bit of optimism a Burning of the Mortgage Night was tentatively set for the month of November 1960. Later it was changed to the anniversary date of the First Burning of the Mortgage Night, or October 2, 1961. Our Ritualistic Team won the local contest in Corona and District contest in San Bernardino. The team thereby became eligible to compete in the State Convention to be held in Sacramento in October. Mrs. Georgia Post, wife of Brother Jerry Post, took over the operation of the dining room. Riverside Gary Allen Best received a grant of $900 from the Elks National Foundation to complete a course in the study of cerebral palsy therapy.
Brother Charles "Sam" McCall served the Lodge as its Fifty-ninth Exalted Ruler, 1961-1962. P.E.R. Cress was welcomed back on April 17th after having served four and one-half years on federal government assignment in the secondary school system of Vietnam. Flag Day services were held in the Lodge room on Friday, June 16th with P.E.R. Elwood M. Rich presiding. At the conclusion thereof our good Brother Judge S. Thomas Bucciarelli presided over a naturalization service for a large class of new American citizens. Brother Byron C. Morton was the chairman of the combined events. Upon recommendation at the State Convention held in October 1960, a committee appointed therefore proposed that the California Elks State Association set its fiscal year to run from April 1st through March 30th. This will conform to the Subordinate Lodge year, and the State Convention to be held by not later than the third week in May. It was also proposed that a two or three day conference be held in October 1962, in San Francisco during the initial eighteen months transition period. At the August 28, 1961 meeting, a formal announcement was made of the appointment of P.E.R. Arthur W. Swarner as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for our District. Riverside Lodge No. 643 had undergone many trials and tribulations during its past six decades of existence. However, in each instance it came through with flying colors. One of such occasions was recounted on October 2, 1961 when we celebrated the second Burning of the Mortgage Night. On this occasion, our Lodge was favored by a visit of the Grand Exalted Ruler, Brother William A. Wall, who delivered the main address. Accompanying the G.E.R. were Past Grand Exalted Rulers L. A. Lewis and Horace Wisely. Many other National, District and State officials were in attendance. At that time, the Lodge boasted a membership of over 1,350. From institution to date we had invested almost $150,000 in charitable work.
Brother James K. Duncan was the Sixtieth Exalted Ruler to serve the Lodge during 1962-1963. During this year, the Open Installation of Officers was initiated. Also, the holding of the Easter Breakfast was inaugurated. Our corps of Officers placed third in the District Ritualistic Contest. Many dignitaries were present on September 17th when we observed Arthur W. Swarner Night. The occasion honored Brother Art as the Junior Past District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler of our District. On October 10th we were honored by the presence of Grand Exalted Ruler Lee A. Donaldson, who was accompanied by Past Grand Exalted Ruler L. A. Lewis and R. Leonard Bush, a Past Exalted Ruler of Inglewood Lodge No. 789. Improvements were made in the cocktail lounge in the form of a new carpet and a gold and silver veined antique mirror with a centered Elks Emblem presented by Brother Ray Mitchell and etched by Brother Frank Ricker. It was with sad regret that we announced the death of our veteran Treasurer, Roy A. Simser. He had been a member of our Lodge for more that 42 years, of which he had served as treasurer for 27 consecutive terms. Brother Mathias A. Matt Mayer, being well qualified, was chosen to fill the vacancy.
Brother Delbert D. "Del" Smith served the Lodge as its Sixty-first Exalted Ruler, 1963-1964. Our corps of Officers won the District Ritualistic Contest, with Brother Carlton W. Hodges being awarded a plaque for the outstanding Esteemed Leading Knight. In the State competition our tam placed fifth out of a total of fourteen teams. During this administration, Monte Carlo Fun Night was launched with "Man Mountain" Al Bottel at the helm. Following a meeting of the California State Association of Emblem Clubs in our Lodge room, a Disposition Charter was granted to Riverside Emblem Club No. 399. Membership in the ladies auxiliary is limited to Elks' wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and widows of Elks. The ten Elks Lodges of the Southeast District, headed by San Bernardino Lodge, hosted the First Annual Elks Bowl Football Game in the Orange Show Stadium on December 7th. Proceeds from the venture to go to our Major Project: Cerebral Palsy. The Project was expanded to include ten youngsters, under three years of age, having their tuition's paid for pre-school blind training. On Monday night, February 24th, Secretaries' Night was held at which time Secretaries of the Southeast District initiated a class of candidates for our Lodge. Our own Secretary William F. Holmes acted as Esteemed Leading Knight, in whose honor the class was initiated.
Brother Leon R. Goodman was the sixty-second Exalted Ruler to serve during 1964-1965. Our beloved anchorman and Exalted Secretary William F. Holmes retired from office after 32 years of faithful and friendly service. Affable E. Jack Neel succeeded him. At the behest of our Grand Exalted Ruler Ronald J. Dunn, we learned that the word "club" is to be deleted in reference to our Order. Hereafter, we would be known as an "Elks Lodge", not an "Elks Club." On June 8th, our retired veteran Secretary was honored with a gift from the Board of Trustees in the form of a monthly retirement benefit for the remainder of his life. Additionally, Brother Holmes was presented an all-expense paid trip to the National Convention held in New York City, with the World's Fair as one of the side trips. Anaconda, Montana Lodge No. 239 presented our Lodge with a beautiful 7-point mounted buck elk's head. It now adorns our main entrance hallway. Brother Benny Goodman, a brother of our Exalted Ruler Leon R. Goodman, who holds a 30-year Elks membership card in the Anaconda Lodge, engineered the presentation. Our Lodge forwarded an amount of over $1,000 to the Grand Secretary for the Alaskan Disaster Fund, which came about as a result of much damage done in that area by an unusually high tsunami. Many bus trips were staged during the year affording our members the opportunity of seeing major baseball and football games, Ice Follies, stage presentations at Melodyland, horse racing at Santa Anita and Del Mar, and fun in Las Vegas, Nevada, to mention a few. Mixed and stag salt-water fishing excursions were made. During this Lodge year, our P.E.R. Emerson J. Pann acted as District Deputy Grand Esquire for District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler John T. Ganahl of Corona Lodge. Brother John is the son of our P.E.R. Alphonse E. Ganahl. After a lapse of several years, Old Timers' Night was revived. On this occasion, members who had not previously been so honored and who had held memberships in the Order of 20, 35, and 50 years, were hosted to a dinner by the Lodge. Announcement was further made that the Major Project had been expanded to include Cerebral Palsy, cleft palate, clubfoot and congenital eye defects. The Charter for Troop No. 74 of the Boy Scouts of America, sponsored by our Lodge, was presented to our Exalted Ruler. Our ever faithful and efficient office secretary, Mrs. Agatha Ruth retired from active duty on February 1st. She was employed May 1, 1946 and served during 19 Exalted Rulers' terms. Three Youth Leadership Contest winners were presented with U.S. Savings Bonds. During March, a special night was observed for our Brother and retiring Chief of Police, Jack A. Bennett.
Smiling and genial Brother William H. Mays is serving the Lodge as its Sixty-third Exalted Ruler, 1965-1966. The California Elks Association celebrated its 50th State Convention in San Diego. Numerous additions were made to the books in our library. Out of town bus trips continued to be of much interest to the membership. After having faithfully served the Lodge in many capacities, Brother L. Clay Freeman retired as a Trustee at the conclusion of 18 years service in that capacity. Brother William A. Berndt succeeded him. First place in the California Southeast District Ritualistic Contest was won by our corps of officers. Congratulations were in order for outstanding performances by Brother William D. Mackey as Esteemed Leading Knight, Brother J. Rory O'Rourke as Esteemed Lecturing Knight, Brother Norman Lilly as Esquire and Brother Stanley W. Everett as Inner Guard. In the Final State Ritualistic Contest, Riverside Lodge placed third. Plaques for outstanding performances were awarded to Brother J. Rory O'Rourke as Esteemed Lecturing Knight, Brother Norman Lilly as Esquire and Brother Stanley W. Everett as Inner Guard and Brother George Petrie as Chaplain. California Elks this year contributed over $100,000 to the Major Project. Junior Past Exalted Ruler Leon R. Goodman was honored by the appointment as Chairman of the Youth Activities Committee of our District. The California Elks Association appointed numerous other Brothers to chairmanships for the District. Announcement was made at the National Convention, held in Miami, Florida, that Brother R. Leonard Bush, a member of Inglewood, California Lodge No. 789, had been elected Grand Exalted Ruler. A new look was given the cocktail lounge by way of refurbishing and the addition of a new entrance door on the east wall. Announcement was made that our Brother Emerson J. Pann had been appointed to the exalted position of District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for the California Southeast District. Among his many accomplishments, Brother Emerson served under three D.D.G.E.R.'s as District Deputy Grand Esquire and/or Auditor. A large number of his home Lodge members accompanied him on official visits to the other Lodges in the District. Numerous visitations to other and by other Lodges were enjoyed throughout the year. We were favored with large attendances at the meetings as well as the social functions. A new innovation was started by holding a childrens Christmas Party for the children and grandchildren, under 12 years of age, of the members of 643. The attendance exceeded all expectations. Another first was the announcement of a Lodge Picnic to be held during the coming February. The Grand Lodge inaugurated a "Letters from Home" to the boys in service, especially those in South Vietnam. This work was undertaken in addition to the Veterans Service Committee which is and has been so ably and enthusiastically carried on by our good Brother Alex Kolesar. Peace Officer Night was revived and was well attended by both the honorees and members at large. All of the foregoing brings us up to the point of and quoting the Exalted Ruler, "The big day to remember will be the official visit of our Grand Exalted Ruler R. Leonard Bush to the Southeast District on February 7, 1966. This visit will be held in the Riverside Elks Lodge as a District Function." A goodly number of our members are working to make this an outstanding event in our Lodge's history. A brochure denoting "65 Years of Progress" will be issued by the Lodge and dedicated to our membership at large.
1966-1967 - William Mackey was elected as our sixty-fourth Exalted Ruler. Brother William F. Holmes, who retired as Secretary in 1964 agreed to serve a three-year term on the Board of Trustees. This year our ritual team placed number one in the District. Earl Topham, Rory O'Rourke, Norman Lilley, George Petrie and Stanley Everett won plaques. Riverside placed third in the State competition with Stanley Everett winning a State plaque as Chaplain. State Vice President Vincent Amalfitano reports that Riverside Lodge enjoys the number two spot in the District with 1,513 members. It is with sadness to denote the passing of Past Grand Exalted Ruler L. A. (Faye) Lewis, Brother Faye stood as a pillar of California Elkdom, a man who dedicated his life toward making Elkdom into the fine organization that we enjoy today.
1967-1968 - The fourteenth annual Inaugural Ball ushered Brother Earl Topham into office as our sixty-fifth Exalted Ruler. Brother Earl had many activities throughout the year with emphasis on participation. One of the many accomplishments of Brother Earl's years was that not one member was dropped for non-payment of dues. It was during this year that the accordion partition was installed in the clubroom, making our facility more functional. A $1,000 Educational Fund Scholarship was awarded to Miss Loraine Wells Bradford. On February 16th, Elkdom recorded its one hundredth birthday. A record of which we can all be very proud.
1968-1969 - The sixty-sixth year of Riverside Elkdom welcomes Brother J. Rory O'Rourke as its Exalted Ruler. This year the name of the California Elks Association, has been changed to California-Hawaii Elks Association. At our June 3rd meeting, on hundred thirty two members were awarded their Twenty-year pins. The Huntington Park Lodge had the distinction of initiating our Exalted Ruler, Norman Lilley, Stanley Everett and Jack Neel into the ancient, mysterious and fun loving order of Jolly Corks at our meeting of June 22nd. Exalted Ruler O'Rourke informed the Lodge that California Elks have donated $1,539,024 to the Elks National Foundation during its forty years of existence. We welcome two new Lodges into our District this year. Sky Forest Lodge No. 2393 was instituted by Fontana Lodge and Yucaipa Lodge No. 2389 was instituted by Riverside Lodge. At our regular meeting of October 14, a vote was taken to authorize the Board of Trustees to negotiate the purchase of the lot located at 6192 Brockton Avenue, known as the Smith property. Out of 151 members voting, there were 104 votes in favor. As all costs have risen, steps were taken to change our by-laws to read that our annual dues were to be increased from $30 to $40. This was confirmed on Monday, February 10.
1969-1970 - Brother Norman Lilley was elected to serve as our sixty-seventh Exalted Ruler. The Ritual team placed first in the District contest and went on to finish second in the State competition. While at the State Convention, Brother Norm presented a check for $4,000 to our Major Project. At the National Convention in Dallas, Texas, it was announced that brother Charles "Sam" McCall had been appointed as District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for the Southeast District. Brother Arthur Swarner was appointed to the Grand Lodge Committee on Judiciary. Miss Sandra Kay Lund was awarded an Elks National Foundation scholarship in the amount of $900. The dining room was altered to include the cocktail lounge. This improvement allowed the faster serving of large parties. On Old Timers Night, nine members received their fifty-year pins and three members received their thirty-five year pins. By a vote of the membership, the Smith property was purchased.