We have been enjoying our visitations to the districts since the FLOE convention in September. It is hard to believe that as I write this article, my year as State President is half over.e have been enjoying our visitations to the districts since the FLOE convention in September. It is hard to believe that as I write this article, my year as State President is half over.
At our visit to the South Southwest District, we were greeted at the hotel by District Vice President, Bill Dryburgh, and his wife, Cathi, and a large group of proud Elks. That evening at Rotonda Lodge, we were welcomed by Exalted Ruler, Jean Humphreys, and her husband, Bob. We had a wonderful dinner with a large group of members and district leaders. On Saturday morning we toured Charlotte Harbor on a King Fisher cruise boat and then went to Punta Gorda Lodge for a delicious lunch prepared and served by the Elkettes. That night, Exalted Ruler, Tim Pohto, and his wife, Cindy, along with Elkettes President, Chick LaCombe, and Punta Gorda Lodge members provided us with another great meal prepared by their kitchen staff.
Our next visit was to the East Central District where we were greeted at the hotel by District Vice President, Tom Hopp, and Felicia Reber and enjoyed a wonderful reception at the hospitality room. We traveled to Sanford Lodge for dinner and were greeted by Exalted Ruler, Bert Wofford, and his wife, Shannon. They presented us with a special cake with our picture on it. Someone decided to save the piece of cake with Joyce’s picture on it so they could raffle it off to raise money for the Harry-Anna Trust Fund. They left one square inch of her face for another raffle. The Harry-Anna Trust Fund made out again! The next morning we had a tour of the beautiful Stetson University campus. The president of the university took time to welcome our group of Elks and congratulate us on our contributions to the community. We had lunch at St. John’s River Grille and then toured the DeLand House at which we learned a lot about the history and community of DeLand. That night we were met at DeLand Lodge by Exalted Ruler, Chip Haverty, where we had a tour of their incredible new lodge followed by another great meal.
On the weekend of Oct. 18-19, we visited the Southeast Central District. We were met at the hotel by District Vice President, Tom Carns, and Wendy. That evening we went to West St. Lucie Lodge and were met by Exalted Ruler, Anthony DeCesare. We enjoyed dinner and the entertaining Karaoke Dance Music Band. On Saturday morning we had a great adventure at the Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce. We sat in a beach landing craft (me with a sniper rifle) and a Black Hawk helicopter. If you have the opportunity, you should visit this museum. We learned a lot and gained a special appreciation for our Navy SEALs. We had lunch and beverages at Hop Life Brewery. That night, Exalted Ruler, Marty Hartrick, and his wife, Barb, entertained us at Stuart-Jensen Lodge with another great meal.
Our last visit before the holidays was to the Northwest District. We were met at the hotel by District Vice President, Toni Palmer, and her husband, Paul. The hospitality room was full of proud Elks. As a special treat for Joyce, her best friends and Elks, Shelly Carroll of Plant City Lodge and Diane Winsor of Fort Walton Lodge, joined us for the weekend. On Friday night we were met by Exalted Ruler, Rick Wright, and his wife, Debbie, at Warrington Lodge for another great meal. The next morning, Rudy and I were treated to a round of golf at Marcus Pointe Country Club and lunch at PDD Dave Wiley and Edie’s house. We had eight golfers and four ball chasers who were much busier than they hoped for. Joyce, Dolly and the ladies enjoyed an art festival in Pensacola and lunch at Pot Roast and Pinot Restaurant. It was a beautiful cool day in northwest Florida. That evening we were treated to another great meal at Warrington Lodge.
Our midyear convention was held at the Tampa Airport Hilton Hotel. There we heard all the informative reports from our state committees. We also had a presentation from our Elks National Foundation (ENF) Director, Jim O’Kelley. He explained ENF spending and how all our grants could be easily obtained. At this convention, the Past State Presidents endorsed Rudy Masi and Dolly as President and First Lady for 2020-2021 and Suzi Simonelli and Joey were endorsed as VPAL and First Man for 2021-2022. I congratulate all four of you and send my best wishes for the years ahead.
Joyce and I attended the Mississippi Elks Association’s midwinter conference in Biloxi, Miss. They hosted Grand Exalted Ruler, Robert Duitsman, and his wife, Beth. It was great to see how another state carries out the work of Elkdom. We met many proud and excited Mississippi Elks. They treated us like we were one of their own and had known us for years. We met the mayor of Biloxi, had a great meal at Biloxi Lodge and ate at the famous Mary Mahoney’s Old French House.
The end of this Florida Elks year is very important. We are basically at the same place with membership as last year. We need to get those members who have not paid their dues back on board and initiate those who are just sitting there waiting to come on board. If we do not do this, we will not be sitting in the front row at the Grand Lodge convention in Baltimore. We need a positive membership growth again this year. Let’s do it!
Our Harry-Anna Trust Fund goal of $750,000 for this year looks promising. We were at $510,000 at the beginning of December. I think if donations at the quarterly meetings are strong, we can exceed our goal. We have been talking at each visitation about members becoming monthly sustaining donors. Encourage your membership. Let them know how important this fund is in supporting our Florida Elks Youth Camp and our Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.Encourage your membership. Let them know how important this fund is in supporting our Florida Elks Youth Camp and our Florida Elks Children’s Therapy Services.
I hope everyone had a great holiday season and we look forward to seeing you at the February quarterly meetings. God bless you and your families, God bless our troops and those in harm’s way, God bless our Florida State Elks Association, and God bless America!
Thank you, Elks, for all you do to make our association so great. You make us “Proud to be an Elk”!
Florida State Elks Association