BPOE 433, Part 10 – 1970-1980

ln April, 1971, Clark Hiatt was elected Exalted Ruler.

In June La Grande Lodge 433 held its annual Flag Day Service at Riverside Park Pavilion.


Artist rendition of planned renovation.

The building plans to renovate and remodel our burned-out building has jumped from $350,000.00 to $389,000.00. Our new building construction started on July 1, 1971. George Gilkison was appointed as liason member between the Lodge and Gilco Construction Company on the project. The Lodge had $288,000.00 in invested funds and needed to borrow at least $100,000.00 for the building project. Lodge meetings were held as usual, but they were in the Labor Temple temporarily.


Southeast wall (facing Depot Street) of top floor that fell after the fire. At one time there were rented apartments on the 3rd Floor.

At this time the southeast wall of the third floor was still standing after the fire had gutted the upper floor. A freak west wind storm came up suddenly and blew the wall down onto Depot Street and crushed four cars by the curb. PER Leslie Keifer was walking home to lunch at the time. He heard noise above and stepped into an alcove around a basement window. That act saved his life as he watched the wall crash.

In September, 1971, PER Sid Burleigh died and a month later PER Layton Graham passed away. La Grande Lodge began to sell debenture bonds at 6% interest and they sold quite rapidly. When the cornerstone of the old building was uncovered, a metal box containing a copy of a 1914 Oregonian; history of the Lodge to 1914 by Frank Bay and Adna Rogers (secretary); a candidate flag with 46 stars; Elk medallions of 1912-13-14; and a program from the Grand Lodge Session of 1914.

On December 19, 1971, La Grande Lodge was plagued by still another stroke of bad luck. A fire started in the Lodge room on the new hardwood floor from spontaneous combustion — from discarded steel wool and rags used to polish the new floor. This fire was suppressed initially by the fire retardant wall and ceiling coverings but there was much smoke and water damage. It would be impossible to hold our New Year’s Dance as had been planned but would not change the completion date of May, 1972.

The reconstruction of our Temple progressed slowly through the winter of 197l-1972. Brother Jim McLoughlin wrote the history of the Lodge to 1971 to be put into a new cornerstone. At a visitation by DDGER Claude Graham, his main message was education of our young people against drug abuse. At the same meeting it was voted to raise the dues from $25.00 to $37.50 to help redeem the building bonds we were selling. In March, 1972, construction had progressed enough so the Brothers took a tour of the building before Lodge, and Lodge was held in the Lodge room.

In April, 1972, Brother John Williamson was installed as Exalted Ruler. The House Committee tried serving breakfast in the dining room from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It was fairly successful but needed more publicity and the committee members didn’t like to give time on Sunday.

The Catholic Hospital had closed here in La Grande. La Grande Lodge supported a move to have the Veterans Administration move into it. It failed.

The Elks Eye Clinic asked for used or unused reading glasses. We collected 1,950 pair. The construction of the new building, which had been expanded to cover the lot we bought in early 1970 was finished in May of 1972.

Dedication of our new Temple was a 4-day affair with special initiation, banquet and dance.

The Grand Lodge Convention was held in Atlantic City and our Lodge voted to keep the word “white” in the application for membership.

President Rempel of Eastern Oregon College thanked the Lodge for the dinner given to the college faculty in our new dining room. In September, 1972, Brother Bob Quinn passed away. He had been the athletic director at Eastern Oregon College for many years and Quinn Coliseum was named in his honor.

At the beginning of the Lodge year our Lodge went from a key to a key-card system. In April of 1973 Jack Laurence was installed as Exalted Ruler. Brother George Gilkison was elected secretary. The Exalted Ruler of Milton-Freewater came to visit and he led a goat named “Bil1y the Kid” into a new Lodge room. We had to pay $100.00 ransom to Meadowood Speech Camp to get the goat out and off our new hardwood floor. Our Lodge took “Billy the Kid” to Baker the next week.

La Grande Lodge initiated a class of 25 to honor our 75th birthday in 1973. Exalted Ruler Laurence gave an interesting report on Grand Lodge in Chicago. He reported that the word “white” was kept in our application for membership form.

Brother Lee Chenault, who was Esquire in 1952 and also the postmaster at Union Post Office, passed away. PER Les Keffer suffered a heart attack. In April, 1974, Bob Gregory became Exalted Ruler. Three Past Exalted Rulers had died: Henry Hess, 1926; Robert R. Carey, 1934; and Dave Damewood, 1956.

The Lodge voted to raise Life Membership from $500.00 to $750.00 and the 5 emember House Committee would be discontinued. In its place would be a Board of Governors composed of six elective oilicers and the five trustees. They would plan all the activities and control the spending.

After our Lodge had moved the three famous elk heads out of the old lobby and into our Lodge room, PER J. Dale Standley wrote their history and displayed it by each head.

In April, 1975, Harold Borine was elected Exalted Ruler and he would go to Grand Lodge Convention in Dallas, Texas. This was also the year that the Past Exalted Rulers Association was formed with 34 PERs still living in the area.

Frank Hise, Past Grand Exalted Ruler, suspended Corvallis and Oceanlake Lodges for gambling violations and they were put on probation.

In February, 1976, our oldest living member, August Erickson, died. He was 94 and had been an Elk for 65 years.

The Lodge voted to buy new, modern universal gym equipment for our locker room.

In April, 1976, Pat Garity was elected Exalted Ruler. Bob Turner was elected treasurer and Ken Stover was hired as manager. Grand Lodge Convention was in New Orleans. Lodge membership was at an all-time high of 1,307 members at the beginning of the 1977 year.

In April, 1977, Bill Coles was elected Exalted Ruler and Roy Neiderer was elected trustee. The Lodge voted to raise the secretary’s salary to $3,600.00 per year and the dues to $49.00 per year.

The La Grande schools had formed student security patrols to help children cross the streets near the schools. La Grande Lodge donated $30.00 to the schools to buy orange vests for them to wear while working.

In April, 1978, Jack Page was elected Exalted Ruler. At his first meeting he gave a report on Meadowood Speech Camp and the wonderful benefits to handicapped children. The cost per child had risen to $5 50.00, so each Lodge was requested to raise money by using some special project.

Brother Ray Caviness, a pioneer member whose family had settled near Island City, passed away. He had purchased several building bonds in 1970 and he willed them back to La Grande Lodge.

Our long-time “Santa Claus,” Bill Wilkins, died. The Past Exalted Rulers Association donated toward a closed circuit TV camera at our Lodge entrance with a monitor at the bar to be able to view anyone pressing the buzzer for entrance.

The Elks, Eagles and the local movie theater agreed to coordinate the Christmas program and free movie on Christmas Day.

Union County furnished a new Senior Citizen’s Center in La Grande. Our Lodge gave five tables to them.

As part of the ideas to raise money for Meadowood Speech Camp, Baker Lodge visited La Grande and threatened to turn a weaner pig loose in our Lodge room. We raised $405.00 quickly but then the Baker Lodge donated the pig to us to see that some other Lodge in the area would get the pig — Enterprise Lodge was our target!

Our state scholarship program was a great success. PER Bob Gregory was chairman of the 1978 program. The annual meeting of the committee always met in the chairman’s home Lodge. La Grande hosted the meeting.

In April, 1979, Bob Mitchell was elected Exalted Ruler. Past Exalted Ruler Andy Windous (1937) passed away.

In September of 1979 the Emblem Club, which is made up of Lady Elks, was formed, instituted in Lodge No. 433 as Emblem Club No. 518, and they held their first initiation of Charter members.

PER Powell Graham was appointed District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for Oregon Northeast District. La Grande Lodge No. 433 received an invitation to the dedication of the new home of the Eagles Lodge on Jefferson Street.

The Elks Hoop Shoot was won by Laura Moore, a La Grande girl who won the local, county, state and national contest and later became a great player for the La Grande High School team. La Grande Lodge honored her and her family at a special dinner.

The speech camp pig had grown during the winter and had been to La Grande, Enterprise and Baker, and when it got to Pendleton it had raised $1110.00 for Meadowood Speech Camp!

Byron Seaquist was elected Exalted Ruler in April, 1980. The value of the Big Jug Kitty had risen to $3690.00 because the luck of the draw had not produced a winner for some time. Two drawings were held for $500.00. When no winner was drawn a $50.00 purse was given, and if no winner was found in 20 draws a red kitty ticket number was read for $50.00.

The Veterans Hospital in Walla Walla issued a plea for glasses, radios, razors, combs and used nylon stockings for therapeutic use for patients. La Grande Lodge members responded to their call.