Internation Order of Odd Fellows Lodge 36


Grace Rebekah Lodge 58

Big Thompson Manors of Loveland, Colorado

By Maxine Bell
The following is unedited and exactly as submitted.

Origin of Manors:

First there had to be Oddfellows Lodge #36 which was instituted on October 14, 1880 with a total of 12 members, who elected A. Donath as Noble Grand The first fraternal hall in Loveland was dedicated August 30, 1882; the cost of the building and furnishings was $1731.87. The present hall at 319 E. 4th Street was built in 1903 as the Loveland Opera House, and was purchased by the Odd fellows on August 31, 1918 from Avery Company. By 1909 Loveland Lodge 36 had a band and sent a Drum Corps to Denver in 1911.

Of course, in order for men to be really great, women need to be involved. Away back on September 20, 1851 the Rebekah Degree was authorized. It was written by Schuyler Colfax, the Vice president of the United States, and a true Oddfellow. Sisters Bullard and Osborn were the first Loveland ladies to be initiated into the Rebekah Degree on May 24, 1883 at Grace Rebekah Lodge #58. Iva Lee McKee, oldest living member of Grace Rebekah Lodge #58 celebrated her 100th birthday on May 25th, 1993 at McKee Conference and Wellness Center. Iva's modesty would not allow her to lay claim to that accomplishment. "I couldn't be 100," She said at her lake-front home in Loveland. Artie and Ted VanDusen celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in 1993. Both were very active in I.O.O.F. International Order of Oddfellowship. George and Ruth Trueblood were truly exceptional members of our Loveland lodges for many years making Oddfellowship their number one priority. Ruth was the first Colorado Rebekah Assembly President. Most recently we lost by death Virginia Bell, Zana Hill 98 years and Fay Klein 91 years, who devoted their lives to our fraternity.

Oddfellow and Rebekah Lodges exist in at least 57 countries. Grand Lodge sponsors: The World Eye Bank, Educational Foundations, United Nation's Pilgrimage for Youth, a float in the Rose Parade,and S.O. S. Children's Village in Cambodia.

In 1965, the Loveland Oddfellows and Rebekahs began checking the possibility of the building of Big Thompson Manor I, a non-profit housing facility through HUD under the leadership of Ted S. Bell, Noble Grand and Amos Allard, Past Grand Master of Colorado. It opened on March 1, 1969. The Manor is located at 224 Monroe Avenue near the Loveland Library and Chilson Center. It is one of the best low-income housing units in Loveland. It was so successful staying 99% occupied with a long long waiting list that our Loveland Lodge considered building another Manor which would be called Manor II at 230 Monroe, and which opened in April of 1985. Ted S. Bell had remained President of the Board of Directors for those six years as well as being very active in the Lodge. Ted's secret was selecting offices who were very knowledgeable in different fields and experiences. The first set of officers were: Ted S. Bell, President, (State Water Resources)John Deines,Vice President,(City Employee), Wilmina Overturf, very accomplished Secretary, Delmer Hunter, Treasurer, (Funeral Home Director), John Imel,

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cement finisher; Fay Klein, home decorator; Ted VanDusen, City Employee, Darlene Warner, Hospitality and Evert Weirham, business man.

Between the building of the two Manors, The Big Thompson flood occurred on July 29, 1976. It affected president Ted S. Bell very much as his youngest brother Myrl Bell and his wife Eleanor were drowned in the flood. Eleanor was the daughter of Paul Hermetet who was Lodge #36 secretary for many years. Ted measured water, employed by the Colorado State Resources, and came up with the fact the the Big Thompson was moving at the unbelievable rate of20 feet per second. The river destroyed 418 homes, and 52 businesses. It harmed 138 other homes and caused 35 million dollars in total damages. And, most of all, it killed 145 people.

Back to the present-Big Thompson Board of Directors held a special meeting July 16, 2007 and voted to turn over Big Thompson I and Big Thompson II to the Grand Lodge of Colorado. Today, August 7, 2007 we are having another special meeting to meet with Grand Lodge Officers. Our present officers are: Bob Chenowith, President since March 1999 following Bob Hill, Janice Zachary,Vice President, Edith Chenowith Secretary (Edith was secretary under Bob Hill and was re-elected when her husband Bob became president), Bruce Rhuebottom, Treasurer, Delmer Hunter, Truman Brumgardt, Eric Brumgardt, 3rd generation board member, Isal Wilder, and Maxine Bell.

During the years of ------ we had legal managers over Big Thompson I and Big Thompson II managers. John and Joanne Greer of Able Real Estate Services of Fort Collins CO. Joanne became very, very, ill and John became ill also. He was the basically released as Manager. Within the last year both passed away within three weeks of each other.

I think everyone appreciates the tremendous amount of work done to have these Manors. The contributions of Amos Allard were particularly noteworthy. He originally handled all the financial problems of both manors even to the extent of buying 3 houses with his own money. Then there was Ted Bell who served as President of the Board of Directors throughout until his death in January, 1994. Ted was succeeded by John Deines who was followed by Bob Hill. Bob Chenowith is current president. It is almost impossible to give enough praise for all the hard work and thoughtfulness, he has given.

It is with regrets we must turn the Manors over to Grand Lodge of Colorado, but we know that they will be in good hands.