Fremont Elks Lodge #2121 History

Past Exalted Ruler (PER) Claire Bettencourt, who owned a liquor store in Fremont, had an unofficial local meeting place for Elks who belonged to the Alameda Lodge. Most of these local members thought that Alameda was too far to travel for Lodge activities, and a great interest developed among them to form a Lodge in Fremont.

An Arranging Committee formed with Jack Frisbee, Don Woodman, Herb Norman, Ray Rehfeld, and Claire Bettencourt, who held committee meetings in an Irvington School Room back in 1954.

Much help came from dedicated people like PER Louis Marbares (Concord Lodge) and PER Jerry McCormick (Pittsburg Lodge). They attended most of the Arranging Committee meetings and provided input on how to comply with the Grand Lodge requirements for instituting a new Elks Lodge.

James McFeeley, an Attorney and Elk Member, was our indispensable legal counsel. James, occasionally aided by the eminent Honorable Donald K. Quayle, P.P.C.E.A., were a fine legal team, and these two gentlemen were the best legal talent available to us.

It all came together in 1959, when we were granted a Charter as the Fremont Elks Lodge No. 2121 in ceremonies held in the SES Hall at the Newark Pavilion. We held bimonthly meetings and the Lodge social activities there until this Lodge facility was completed.

In October, 1960, a Building Committee of seven Lodge members was formed. This committee was chaired by Brother James McFeeley. They sent out a brochure notifying all the local Elks members of the importance of having a Lodge building of our own.

Six Elk members formed the Mission View Corporation, Inc. (a non-profit corporation) with Brother James McFeeley as President. It was created for the exclusive purposes of: holding the Lodge building property, receiving rent from the Lodge, paying the obligations of the Corporation and, ultimately, to turn over the completed structure to the members of the Fremont Elks Lodge.

Lending institutions do not regard dues income from a group of Elks as satisfactory collateral, so the Corporation had to look elsewhere for financing. Series A Promissory Notes were offered to Elks only, in amounts of $250.00 or more. An account, in the amount of $50,000.00 in Promissory Notes, was opened by the Mission View Corporation at the First Western Bank in Niles. The proceeds of those Notes were used to defray part of the development cost of the Lodge structure.

Construction of the current Lodge building started in December, 1961. On March 21, 1962, Elmer O’Connell, a local business man, loaned us $100,000.00, which made it possible to complete the obligations that we had. A Notice of Completion was given to the Corporation on June 5, 1962. When all the outstanding loans were cleared, the Mission View Corporation was dissolved and this beautiful building was turned over to the members.

PER Raymond A. Rehfeld was our Lodge’s fourth Exalted Ruler, and he was the first Exalted Ruler to conduct meetings at our present location. We were so proud to move into our grand new building on Farwell Drive – only four years after we had received our Lodge Charter. In Elkdom, that is regarded as a major accomplishment!

Our sincere thanks to: Glenmoor Homes, Inc., James Meyer (President) and Jim L. Reeder (Vice President), for providing the property at a minimal cost and for the construction of this facility that continues to delight us today.

In addition, we thank: Architect: Kinney Griffin; Mission View Corporation: James McFeeley (President); and the Lodge Building Committee: James McFeeley (Chmn), Claire Bettencourt (Sec), Leland Neely, John Casisy, Richard Collet, Ralph Donahue and Ernest Rodrigues. Our sincere thanks to all of you for the many hours dedicated to The Good of the Order of Elkdom. We will forever be grateful.

(NOTE: This history was adapted from material provided by PERs Ray Rehfeld, Harry Heyen and Vic Hernandez.)