GATEWAY LODGE HISTORYJust prior to April of 1969, the Portland Metro area had only the Oregon Mother Lodge, Portland #142 within the city’s limits with Milwaukie Lodge, Gresham Lodge, Oregon City Lodge and Beaverton Lodge nearby. For those who are not familiar with the area, the distance between Portland Lodge (which was then in the downtown area on the west side of the Willamette River) and Gresham Lodge to the east was approximately 18 miles. Travel in the area east of the Willamette River at that time was mostly restricted to surface streets as the freeway systems we are now used to do not appear until later. Elks that lived in what is now the Gateway Area and who belonged to Portland, Gresham or Milwaukie Lodges at the time had a long commute to their Lodge for meetings.
Tom Jones (right), who was a Trustee at Milwaukie Lodge and also Elk of the Year in that Lodge in 1964, was one of these members. He and Frank Richter began looking at the possibility of starting a new lodge nearer to where they lived. Tom spearheaded the idea and started talking to the state Elks association and neighboring lodges to determine the feasibility. At first it wasn’t all that promising. Portland Lodge flatly said NO. They thought that the city wasn’t large enough for a 2nd Lodge and they were also afraid that the new Lodge would rob them of members. Meetings were held and finally a decision was reached. Gresham Lodge would be the “mother lodge” to the new Gateway Lodge instead of Portland (who still had issues with the opening of a new Lodge.) In order to have a Charter, the new lodge was to consist of at least 50 new non-members along with members that would transfer from the existing lodges. It was agreed but then that figure was upped by a multiplier of 10. The new Gateway Lodge now had to enlist a minimum of 500 non-members in order to qualify for a Charter. Portland Lodge was said to have been elated because no one believed that it could be done.
Ok, never give Gateway Lodge a challenge like that! The organizing core of the new Lodge immediately started a campaign to enlist new members. The first meeting of the new lodge was held in the old Ice Rink on 102nd on December 18th, 1968. There were 12 guys present that evening, all of them Elks from other Lodges. They established that meetings would be on Thursday evenings. By the second meeting, the attendees totaled 25 and by January, 1969, the new Lodge had 225 applications for membership into the Order! And it kept growing!
You can only imagine how astounded the other Lodges were when, on April 26, 1969, Gateway Lodge was officially instituted as Lodge #2411 with 3,309 members in its first Initiation class. That turned out to be the largest initiation class in Elk history! The ceremonies were held at David Douglas Junior High School Auditorium with Grand Lodge Officers instituting the new Lodge and the Officers of Gresham Lodge #1805 initiating the new members. At the end of the initiation ceremony, Past Grand Exalted Ruler Horace Wisely of Salinas Lodge #614 said “WOW”! He added that he thanked God for the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. He was glad for the right of assemblage and the privilege of choosing one’s own friends.
But it didn’t stop there. By the end of 1969, the new Lodge boasted close to 5,000 members, including 13 deaf members who were initiated by Exalted Ruler Tom Jones who interpreted the Initiation ceremony using sign language.
The first officers of the new Lodge were:
Exalter Ruler – Tom Jones
Esteemed Leading Knight – Gene Frazey
Esteemed Loyal Knight – Frank Brawner
Esteemed Lecturing Knight – Richard Heath
Secretary – Leslie Smith
Treasurer – King Haviland
Tiler – Galen Tyler
Esquire – Walter Padgett
Chaplain – Bill Grohs
Inner Guard – Dick Dugger
5 Year Trustee – Leonard Smallbeck
4 Year Trustee – FV “Irish” O’Brien
3 Year Trustee – Ronald Brown
2 Year Trustee – Frank Bates
1 Year Trustee – H Jay Atkins
Just to show there were no hard feelings, some 300 members
of the new Gateway Lodge visited the Portland Lodge on June 5th.
The evening began with a fine buffet dinner and was followed by a combination
Lodge meeting and a presentation of gifts to Portland’s officers
by our officers.
Gateway Lodge continued to grow and prosper and by 1971 had purchased 4.57 acres to become the home of the new Lodge. By 1972 plans for the new building were drawn up by architect Frank H Kendall and were approved by the membership. The 1st phase of the new building included lower and upper level floor plans totaling 35,000 square feet. The lower level included a Rathskellar beer tavern with a small dance area, a workout area with men & women's locker rooms, sauna and steam facilities and a 4,000 sq ft temporary Lodge room which was slated to become a bowling alley in a future phase. Conference rooms were also provided on the lower level. The upper floor (main level) boasted luxurious settings for Lodge activities. In addition to general office space the area included a 2,400 sq ft Stag Room and Bar. Adjacent to this was another Bar, Lounge and Dining Room. The Lounge and Dining rooms could be seperated by means of a folding partition and, when opened, allowed for 6,700 sq ft of entertainment space with a stage at one end.
On Sunday, March 24, 1974, ground was broken for the new building. A crowd of over 300 members and their families joined in the brief ceremony at the site. At the command from Exalted Ruler Bill Grohs, officers and dignitaries dug their shovels into the earth, signifying the beginning of construction of the future Temple of Gateway ELks. Among the dignitaries on hand were Frank Hise, PGER; Bill Flatt, then Oregon State Elks Association President; Ray Snyder, then DDGER and RD Patten, then SDGER, 4 Stae Vice-Presidents and 5 past DDGER's.
With some small revisions to the original plans, the dream became reality on November 1, 1974 with the opening of the new building. Gateway Lodge took its place among the Lodges in Oregon and excelled in every direction.
Early on a very notable creature appeared as a Lodge regular. His name is Archie the Elk and he quickly became the Lodge mascot. Featured in every issue of "the Gatepost", he reminded the members to get involved, promoted Lodge activities and provided inspiration and a little bit of humour. He was the brain-child of Brother Fred Roentz (below) and, at the begining, poor Archie was almost a mistake.
The Gatepost deadline for the June, 1969 issue was a mad house. The staff was digging up articles and trying to fill space. Fred was attempting to draw a fish resembling and Elk to promote an up-coming fish feed. (don't ask, this WAS 1969 after all) It wasn't working. Finally, after much doodling and scraping of ideas, pot-bellied Archie began to materialize on paper. The staff was enthused and began to see all sorts of possibilities with Archie as a gadfly and mark of identity for Gateway Lodge.
Although Fred is no longer with us, Archie lives on as a source of inspiration and a reminder of the talent and dedication of our early members.
Over the past 40 years, Gateway Lodge has consistently grown and strengthened
and has emerged as a leading Lodge in Oregon. Always noted as an
extremely active Lodge, Gateway continues to keep busy. Whether
it is actively contributing to our charitable works, providing un-surpassed
entertainment and activities for its members or actively contributing
to our community, the Lodge and its membership jump right in with both
Brother Fred Roentz