Through and interview with F. A. (Tony) Vigil, who was State President in 1943-44 it was possible to gain some insight into the early days of the State Association. Tony, who is 83 years young at this writing, joined the Elks Lodge in Raton in 1932 at the urging of Ollie Jones, a friend who also started him on his political career. He was not a member of the Elks for several years after the Association was formed but did remember many of the original presidents. He felt the formation of the Association was strongly influenced by the Gallup lodge who provided the first President. He also indicated the leadership of the New Mexico President. He also indicated the leadership of the New Mexico Elks in those days rested with Arthur Carr of Santa Fe and J. P. Gribbin of Gallup. To quote Brother Tony, “Joe Gribbin and Arthur Carr, they run the show”. In reminiscing about his experiences he stated that he was elected President and then entered the Army four months later. He was able to continue his duties as President as he was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso and was able to get a 3 day pass to attend some of the meetings. In discussing this period it was apparent that Tony became very close to other Elks in the State and especially Earl Brown in El Paso. Tony and Earl and their wives would drive from El Paso to Carlsbad for dances and other activities at the Carlsbad Lodge. During this time he became a very close friend of John Pulice of Carlsbad and also Don Dickason of Albuquerque who were also Presidents of the Association. At this time the State Conventions were held on Saturday and Sunday. Brother Tony said it was often difficult to get the delegates together due to travel costs, distances involved and means of transportation. Also, they usually had only a half day to drive home to be ready for work the next day. They also had very little money to use to reimburse the officers for their expenses. In 1945 the Association per capita dues was $00.10 per member and with a total of 4,545 statewide members the annual income of $454.50 didn’t go very far.
In reading some other files maintained by the Secretary a letter from Don Dickason (1941-42) was found which stated that Earl Brown (1940-41) was, “the only Texican to be elected as President of the New Mexico Elks,” Earl was from the El Paso Lodge. Research indicates this is not quite true as Howard Don (1945-46) was also from El Paso. Brother Don did not finish his year as he passed away about four months after entering office. In discussing the El Paso Presidents it should be noted that the El Paso, TX. Lodge # 187 was included in the New Mexico Association until 1948. There were no other Elks Lodges in western Texas at the time and the combination did make it more convenient for the El Paso Lodge. New Mexico was divided into two Districts by Grand Lodge, North and South. District Deputies were appointed and they reported at the State Association meetings as they now do. A total of eleven (11) Lodges were chartered in the State at the inception of the State association. The Carlsbad Lodge, # 1558 was the baby lodge at the time as it was instituted at approximately the same time the Association was formed. The Chartered Lodges were, Las Vegas # 408, Silver City # 413, Santa Fe # 460, Albuquerque # 461, Raton # 865, Roswell # 969, Las Cruces # 1119, Tucumcari # 1172, Clovis # 1244, Gallup # 1440, Carlsbad # 1558.
Relations between the Grand Lodge and the New Mexico Lodges and State Associations was through the District Deputies and a special representative. In the early years a Brother from CO. Past Grand Exalted Ruler, John R. Coen attended many of the conventions. He represented what was called the Rocky Mountain District. He was replaced in the fifties with Brother Floyd Thompson. In the 1960 time frame the Conventions were often visited by Past Grand, Horace Wisely from CA. After Brother Bob Boney was elevated to Grand Exalted Ruler he took a strong hand in reviewing the work of the New Mexico Elks until his death. He was replaced in 1983 by a very able monitor, Past Grand George B. Klein. Following, in chronological order, are some of the significant or interesting events which were gleaned form the minutes of the conventions.
1946 – Membership gain was 10% increase over the previous year.
1948 – Convention Resolution proposed a hospital for Cerebral Palsy victims. This was the beginning of a program which developed into the state project. A very complete history and written by Brother Bob Van Driel of Albuquerque Lodge. The second revision was completed in May 1986, Brother Van Driel can be contacted for copies of this document. Brother Bob has since passed away.
1949 – Per Capita Dues increased to $00.25/member. By-Law change made to include Vice Presidents from the North and south Districts of the State. Comment – Most of the minutes to the conventions included many changes to the by-laws.
1950 – Lodge formerly located at Hobbs proposed establishment of a hospital for Cerebral Palsy Victims.
1951 – Lodges in State had risen to 15 and membership total was 6,781. Our future State Grand Exalted Ruler was appointed District Deputy, South. After much discussion and many false starts a resolution was approved to begin a formal Cerebral Palsy program. First indication of a Ritual contest. Two teams competed who were made up of members of lodges from the North and South districts. All-State were selected from these two teams. Comment – In addition to the Annual State convention there were three quarterly meetings of the Association officers each year. These meetings followed the general format of a regular convention meeting. Only the officers and committee members were voting members. Members from subordinate Lodges attended but did not get to vote on any of the items proposed for action.
1952 – 1st Spring Convention. Up to this time the convention was held in the fall, usually September.
1953 – Membership reached 7,775 (31 March 1953) State President was Robert Boney of Las Cruces. 1st Cadillac drive for Cerebral Palsy was held.
1954 – All time high – Three Lodges entered the Ritual Contest.
1955 – Ritual Teams increased to five with Carlsbad monopolizing the 1st place honors.
1957 – Cerebral Palsy Budget was $25,000.
1959 – Change of meeting from Annual Conventions to Semi-Annual and Elimination of formal quarterly meetings. Elks Charitable and Benevolent Trust came into being. (Dec.) 5,250 Deer hides collected.
1960 – Training of Ritual Judges begun. Ritual clinics held in conjunction with DD Clinics.
1961 – (April) Eighteen Lodges in the State with a total membership of 9,704. Financial report, Savings and Checking accounts $6,263 and a budget of $5,350 income and expenditures. Per Capita dues $00.50/member. Proposed to be increased to $1.00/member at this meeting. (Fall) Brother Bob Boney was selected as Grand Esteemed Leading Knight.
1964 – Spring-By-Law change approved to delete officers of Vice President, North, Vice President South, and Vice President at large and replace with 1st and 2nd Vice President. All State Ritual Team-Exalted Ruler T. J. Williams, Albuq., Esquire Bill Davis, Carlsbad, Esteemed Leading Knight, Ray Camp, Bob Batley, Farmington, Esteemed Lecturing Knight, Billy Hickman, Ruidoso, Chaplin, Ken Carlisle, Farmington, and Inner Guard, Morris Franks, Farmington.
1965 – Oct. District Ritual contest winners: NW. Albuquerque, NE. Los Alamos, SE. Carlsbad, SW. Lordsburg. Everett Wheeler, State Ritual Chairman
1966 – NMEA State membership reaches 12,000. First mention of 11 O’clock Toast Contest.
1967 – February Special Meting called to raise money for Grand Lodge Convention. Money was required to support the Grand Lodge convention activities and other expenses to the State due to the nomination of Brother Bob Boney as the Grand Exalted Ruler. Proposed budget was $12,500 to cover cost of a new car to be given as a gift to brother Boney and all other expenses for the festivities at the convention. Every Lodge member in the state was assessed a total of $1.00 to cover this expenditure.
1969 – April. National foundation Per capita giving was $0.7635 per member. We ranked 25th in the order of giving of all states. Past State Presidents advisory committee prepared a much referred to document prior to the convention. This document was the Convention Manual that clarified host lodge and State Association responsibilities in conducting a Convention. The Secretaries position was changed from an appointed to an elected position and additional duties such as publishing and distribution of minutes were included in his duties.
1972 – April. Howard Nunez was elected Secretary.
1976 – Addition of two additional District Deputies to the State.
1980 – Membership up to 18,404.
Have run out of time, from now on the information provided is not really history as most of the active Lodge members can remember a lot of the happenings in the past 15-20 years. With the standardization of many of the programs and reduction in the number of marked changes to the Association By-Laws there is not a lot of significant events. I hope to continue this work and conduct a much more thorough research job. More to come, this covers up through 1980.
This history was prepared by: Marvin Webber, PDD from Alamogordo Lodge # 1897 and former Past Secretary for the New Mexico Elks Association.
Past State Presidents (date died)
- 1928-29 Dominic Rollie (2/1/57) Gallup
- 1929-30 J. L. Regensberger (7/18/40) Alb.
- 1930-31 Ben B. Ginsberg (9/1/81) Roswell
- 1931-33 J. P. Gribbon (5/31/69) Gallup
- 1935-37 Arthur E. Carr (1947) Santa Fe
- 1937-38 E. W. Griffith (6/26/39) Alb.
- 1938-39 Ludwig Ilfeld (5/19/60) Las Vegas
- 1939-40 Dr. C. F. Beeber (3/25/68) Alb.
- 1940-41 Earl Brown (12/30/89) El Paso
- 1941-42 Don Dickason (8/2/99) Alb.
- 1942-43 John Pulice (5/9/70) Carlsbad
- 1943-44 F. A. Vigil (7/24/94) Raton
- 1944-45 Ben B. Ginsberg (9/1/81) Roswell
- 1945-46 Howard Don (12/1/45) El Paso
- 1945-46 Dr. G. L. Renfro (8/21/86) Santa Fe
- 1946-47 Morey L. Goodman (1978) Santa Fe
- 1947-48 Roert Sandusky (11/1/81) Tucumcari
- 1948-49 Guido Zecca (12/21/90) Gallup
- 1949-50 Wiliam J. Bingham (10/16/76) Alb.
- 1950-51 Ray Arias (1/29/68) Santa Fe
- 1951-52 Ed L. Harbaugh (9/30/76) Roswell
- 1952-53 Robert E. Boney (9/16/82) Las Cruces
- 1953-54 Ashley C. Thompson (10/23/57) Alb.
- 1954-55 Robert Cunningham (12/6/84) Carlsbad
- 1955-56 Dante Vaio (5/4/94) Alb.
- 1956-57 Fred H. Billey (10/2/95) Roswell
- 1957-58 Jim Carpenter (12/21/68) Farmington
- 1958-59 Hampton Martin (10/11/82) Carlsbad
- 1959-60 Leroy Ramirez (12/18/11) Santa Fe
- 1960-61 William J. Schneider Los Alamos
- 1961-62 G. T. Hennessee (3/15/92) Alb.
- 1962-63 W. R. Davidson (2/19/86) Carlsbad
- 1963-64 Warren E. Orton (8/29/11) Los Alamos
- 1964-65 Walters Gerrells (4/23/94) Carlsbad
- 1965-66 C. W. Burkett (2/27/98) Clovis
- 1966-67 Robert Boyd Carlsbad
- 1967-68 Alex W. Coull Las Vegas
- 1968-69 Jerry R. Gorman (1/6/92) Las Cruces
- 1969-70 T. J. Williams, Jr. Alb.
- 1970-71 Buddy Adams (5/9/77) Roswell
- 1971-72 Jack Bollinger (3/29/82) Rucumcari
- 1972-73 Vernon Bryan (4/24/74) Artesia
- 1973-74 L. A. B. Parker (9/19/01) Alb.
- 1974-75 George Gaylord (3/10/93) Silver City
- 1975-76 Robert L. Batley Farmington
- 1976-77 Ray Camp Carlsbad
- 1977-78 Ike Alarid Santa Fe
- 1978-79 Greeley W. Myers Las Cruces
- 1979-80 Willis S. Calus (7/30/98) Alb.
- 1980-81 Earl E. Phillips, Jr. Roswell
- 1981-82 Stuart Rucker Gallup
- 1982-83 Wandel Massey Clovis-Portales
- 1983-84 Dwight H. Ray Los Alamos
- 1984-85 Richard S. Graham Silver City
- 1985-86 Ira C. Griffith (6/17/93) Farmington
- 1986-87 William B. Davis Carlsbad
- 1987-88 Frank M. Love Alb.
- 1988-89 William Evans (9/19/91) Alamogordo
- 1989-90 D. T. Bradley (1/28/09) Raton
- 1990-91 George Ferriman (6/24/90) Artesia
- 1991-92 W. Leo Jennings Farmington
- 1992-93 Fred Bloss Carlsbad
- 1993-94 Harold Newlander Alb.
- 1994-95 Michael Burnett Clovis-Portales
- 1995-96 Ethen L. Ekberg Los Alamos
- 1996-97 Lowell Stephens (3/11/14) Alamogordo
- 1997-98 Larry N. Tomberlin Gallup
- 1998-99 Troy Winham Roswell
- 1999-00 Cres C. Baca Belen
- 2000-01 Everett Wheeler Carlsbad
- 2001-02 Jimmie F. Fitzpatrick Alb.
- 2002-03 Karl W. Stewart Silver City
- 2003-04 Donald R. Holland Gallup
- 2004-05 Sam Serna Las Cruces
- 2005-06 Raymond Smith Los Alamos
- 2006-07 Rob Golden Artesia
- 2007-08 Robert A. Guillen Santa Fe
- 2008-09 John Holbrook Alamogordo
- 2009-10 Jim Larrabee Gallup
- 2010-11 Rick Callaway Roswell
- 2011-12 John Hilliard Albuquerque
- 2012-13 Roger Hamman Roswell
- 2013-14 Rohnnie Tupin Los Alamos
- 2014-15 Lyle Weeks, Jr. Alamogordo
- 2015-16 Dan Gerth, Los Alamos
- 2016-17 Larry Curtis
- 2017-18 Kandi Barks
- 2018-19 Kandi Barks
- 2019-20 Barbara Venturi
- 2020-21 Gerald Wheeler
- 2021-22 Johnny Hilliard