Riverside, CA 643

CA SOUTHEAST
District No. 1160

Lodge 643 History 1940 - 1960

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.


Back to top