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Guest Column: Odd Fellows' goals remain the same

by Teddye BeebeIoof Cabinet Lodge No. 68
| November 18, 2009 11:00 PM

The brisk autumn air and falling leaves bring on the realization that Christmas is not very far away … that preparations must begin if the Odd Fellows’ members are going to enjoy the old-fashioned Christmas that a lot of people remember from their youth.

The motto of Odd Fellows, “To improve and elevate the character of mankind” is a lofty goal. In 18th century England, it was odd to find people organized for the purpose of giving aid to those in need and pursuing projects for the benefit of all mankind. Those belonging to such an organization were called “Odd Fellows.”

Thomas Wildey was born in London, England and orphaned when 5 years old. He joined the Odd Fellows at age 22 and emigrated to the United States in 1817 when there was a yellow fever epidemic and mass unemployment. He and four other men began the process of forming the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in North America in 1819. At the time of his death in 1861, there were more than 200,000 members across North America.

Today in Libby, the number of members is small but the goals are the same. The Odd Fellows contribute to the Arthritis Foundation in seeking a cure to this painful affliction and they finance a visual aid program for their members and raise money for research at the Wilmer Institute of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

There are youth programs, student loans through a revolving loan fund, geriatric care and the Homes for Seniors program, as well as housing for Alzheimer’s care.

Raising funds and assisting others in the local communities are ongoing projects. Sometimes, just having a fun time is called for and members and their families anticipate a visit by Santa Claus at the Odd Fellows hall to hear Barry Boothman and his Little Angels sing Christmas carols after the members enjoy a turkey dinner. And it’s all served up with a big scoop of nostalgia.

(Teddye Beebe holds the position of Noble Grand with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cabinet Lodge No. 68).