By Andy Costello
Elks Lodge Remembers Twenty-One Departed Members at Annual Memorial Service
Mission Viejo / Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge No. 2444 held its annual memorial service (“Program”) to remember twenty-one of its members that passed away during the past year. Honored members included: James Blair, Merle Bassett Jr, Sandra Bergan, Benjamin Blair, Gordon Brittain, James Collins, John Croker, Craig Drennon, Robert Ellert, Gerald Haines, Wade Clayton Kemerer, Jeff McLaughlin, Kenneth Oleyar, Charles Ranney, Victor Santangelo, Roger Smoke, Albert Sonnenfeld, Timothy Stetson, Arthur Sullivan, Bradley Thompson, Rachel Ward, and Richard Young.
The Program was attended by Elks Lodge members, friends and family of the deceased. Fronting the podium was a beautiful floral arrangement, twenty-one white candles and Elks Lodge Emblems. The Program was opened with the presentation of the colors by Lodge sponsored Boy Scout Troop #603 and a welcoming message from Elks Lodge Exalted Ruler Jamie Camunas. As each deceased Elks member’s name was announced by Lodge Secretary Laura Lumley, a candle was lit by family members of the deceased with the help of Assistant Chaplain Jenny Buford, and chimes were struck by Past District Deputy Norm Jones.
Symbols of Remembrance were presented by Exalted Ruler Jamie Camunas, Lodge Leading Knight Greg Morgan, Loyal Knight Stuart Urquhart, and Lecturing Knight Kimberly Maestri. Exalted Ruler Camunas gave the Elks Eleven O’clock Toast and Kassra Amidi ETHS Band-12th grade played a moving rendition of Taps. The Memorial Service was closed with Cate Murphy leading the assembly in singing How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. Throughout the Program, music was provided by Elks Lodge organist Andy Costello. Refreshments were served and members and families mingled to exchange stories and remembrances of the deceased Elk members.
The Mission Viejo, Saddleback Valley Lodge is celebrating 50 years of service to the Saddleback Valley Communities. It currently has a membership of 1,265 men and women; it is one of 8 lodges in the Orange Coast District of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE) whose headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois. The BPOE is a charitable organization with a 151-year history of giving. “Elks Care Elks Share”. For information regarding Elks programs or membership, call 949 830-3557
Photos by Dave Safley