Odd Fellows share funds with Austin

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 2, 2001

Their numbers have grown few, but their commitment has never diminished.

Monday, July 02, 2001

Their numbers have grown few, but their commitment has never diminished.

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Only six people are listed as members of Independent Order of Odd Fellows Austin Lodge No. 20.

Lanny Krachmer is the noble grand and John Gilbert is the vice grand in the order. Cliff Defor is recording secretary and Lauris Hubmer is financial secretary. Mel Bakken is guardian.

Lawrence Ganfield, the chaplain, is in a nursing home.

"We just don’t have the numbers anymore to do the things we want to do," said Defor.

"Our membership has grown older and fewer and we haven’t attracted any more younger members. It may be time to fold-up the organization," said Krachmer.

Before that happens, the order is sharing its accumulated funds with the City of Austin.

The five active members, Defor, Hubmer, Krachmer, Gilbert and Bakken, presented a check for $5,259 to Dennis Maschka, executive director of the Austin Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, Thursday morning.

The check presentation took place at Austin Morning Lions Park, where an extension of the city’s recreational trail system will pass.

"We appreciate the generosity of the Odd Fellows Austin Lodge No. 20," said Maschka. "The money will be used to purchase benches that will be located along the trail."

In all, the city will purchase seven benches that will be position along the trail that will parallel the Cedar River and link up with other extensions near Austin Community Park, the bandshell and the new Veterans Pavilion.

"The benches will be a nice addition to the trail system. They will have the lodge’s emblem on them so people will know where they came from," Maschka said.

It’s also fitting that a lodge, facing the tough decision to disband, gave such a large amount of money to the city for benches along a recreational trail that will attract families.

The Odd Fellows has prided itself on being a "family fraternity" for decades.

The Austin lodge was chartered in 1867. Like others, it has sponsored Rebekahs, Junior Odd Fellows and Theta Rho Girls Clubs, as well as the lodge itself.

According to the Austin lodge’s remaining members, the Odd Fellowship fraternal society was formed on the North American continent in 1819 in Baltimore, Md., by Thomas Wildey with the mission to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and education the orphan.

It originated in England in the 17th century at a time when it was, literally, odd to find a group of men giving aid to the poor and disadvantaged.

For over a century, both the Odd Fellows and the Rebekah degree-holders have prided themselves on community service to others.

"We’re called the Three Link Fraternity," said Gilbert, the Austin lodge’s vice grand. "That stands for ‘Friendship, Love and Truth,’ which is our motto."

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at lee.bonorden@austindailyherald.com.