Kathy Stukel of the Eagles Ladies Auxiliary speaks to the audience at the special Eagles meeting on July 6 about why the Eagles in Kemmerer should stay active as FOE Worthy President Fred Sebold looks on. (GAZETTE PHOTO / Theresa Davis)
The Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 2341 of Kemmerer held a special meeting on Thursday, July 6, to determine the future of the organization.
Worthy President Fred Sebold reminded the audience of Aerie and Auxiliary members gathered in the Eagles Hall of the purposes of the meeting.
“We are on the cusp of surrendering our charter to the Grand Aerie,” Sebold said. “We need more officers, and we need participation.”
He said the two options for the Kemmerer Eagles were to either consolidate with another Aerie facing similar participation struggles, or surrender the Kemmerer Charter to the Grand Aerie.
“You don’t want either of those,” an audience member chimed in.“You want 2341 right here.”
Sebold said the causes for surrendering a charter include a program’s insolvent or inactive condition, or a violation of Eagles statutes or federal laws.
“My heart and soul are in this room,” Sebold said as he pointed to the pictures on the wall of his mother, sister and father, all of whom held leadership positions in the Kemmerer Eagles.
The Kemmerer Eagles Aerie charter was formed on July 23, 1939. The Kemmerer Eagles Auxiliary charter was formed on Dec. 21, 1969.
Sebold also said he wanted to put to rest Eagles issues that had come to him by word of mouth.
“Some people thought that maybe the Aerie and Auxiliary could combine,” Sebold said.
He described his efforts to write to various Aeries and Auxiliaries around the country to see if that was a possibility.
He found combining an Aerie and Auxiliary is against the Eagles bylaws.
But Sebold also read from the Eagles bylaws about making exceptions for allowing members ages 18-21 in the Eagles.
He suggested that this exception may increase participation in the community.
Sebold also highlighted some of the Eagles’ history and accomplishments.
The Eagles was formed in 1898 as the Order of Good Things, until a few years later when the organization chose the eagle as its mascot and changed its name to The Fraternal Order of Eagles, with a goal to “make human life more desirable by lessening its ills and promoting peace, prosperity, gladness and hope.”
The organization’s noteworthy members include seven U.S. presidents, legendary athletes like Max Baer and celebrities like Bob Hope and Billy Ray Cyrus.
The Eagles have a long history of promoting the health of senior citizens and doing charity work.
“Those are some pretty impressive credentials,” Sebold said. “We want to be part of that.”
After Sebold outlined the potential futures of the Kemmerer Eagles organization, he allowed anyone who wanted to voice their opinions to do so.
Sebold opened the comment session with one of the organization’s obligations: “If I cannot speak well of an Eagle, I will not speak ill of him.”
Kathy Stukel is the Eagles Auxiliary secretary and a member of the Diamondville Town Council.
“I grew up in the Eagles with my mom and my dad,” Stukel said. “They’ve done so much for the children in the community. I want to see that continue.”
“We need officers to continue,” long-time Kemmerer Eagle Paul Barnell said. “We need people to step up and fill these chairs. We’ve raised money for the Diabetes Research Center, the Kemmerer Senior Center and the Feed the Children meal efforts. But we have to have people step up.”
Vean Beutler of the Eagles Auxiliary voiced her concerns about the participation of the groups.
“We need community in Kemmerer,” Buetler said. “If we don’t come together, if you don’t have people, you have nothing. We all need to stand up and do something.”
She also volunteered to fill any vacant positions in the Ladies Auxiliary.
The Kemmerer Ladies Auxiliary only has one vacant position, the Vice President.
Sebold and other Aerie leaders present pointed out that the Kemmerer Auxiliary currently has more participation than the Aerie, and that in order to succeed, the Kemmerer Aerie and Auxiliary needed to work “hand-in-hand.”
Jason Smith voiced his concern about the lack of participation among the younger population in the community.
“The younger generation doesn’t know what the Eagles is about,” Smith said. “If we could find a way to push our information digitally to them, I think that could be good for Kemmerer.”
After these comments, another person volunteered to fill a trustee position for the Eagles Aerie.
At the conclusion of the special meeting, Sebold spoke about the decision he felt had been reached to continue the Eagles in Kemmerer based on the members’ concerns and willingness to step up and fill vacant officer positions in both the Aerie and Auxiliary chapters.
“Several people in this room initiated me 30 years ago,” Sebold said. “We called this meeting to suspend the charter if necessary - I don’t think that’s necessary. I will do my very best to get us back on track.”
The Kemmerer FOE Aerie meets the first and third Friday of every month, and the FOE Auxiliary meets every second and fourth Monday.