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The following history of St. Marys Eagles Aerie 767 is reprinted from the 2004 100th Anniversary Program, portions of which were reprinted from the 1939 35th Anniversary Program and the 1954 50th Anniversary Program.

HISTORY OF AUGLAIZE AERIE 767

By: Herb Wildermuth, Historian & Fred Meier, Photographer

Contributory to the ultimate civic embodiment which the City of St. Marys, Ohio, enjoys, there is no bigger and more constructive factor towards its development than that which is to be found in the workings and accomplishments of Aerie 767 of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The first minutes taken from the pen of Worthy Secretary C. R. Jones of the initial meeting of the 93 charter members reveal that on June 30, 1904 the lodge was organized in St. Marys and the following officers were elected: T. J. Donnelly, Past Worthy President; D. F. Mooney, Worthy President; Harry Collins, Worthy Vice-President; T. C. Hogan, Worthy Chaplain; J. T. Siebert, Inter Guard; H. Knostman, Outer Guard; R. C. Jones, Worthy Secretary; John M. Koenig, Worthy Treasurer; J. L. Litzman, Worthy Conductor; E. H. Young, Trustee; G. C. Mears, Trustee; C. P. Hughes, Trustee; and Dr. F. A. Shuffelton, Aerie Physician.

That the sturdy foundation put down by this all concerned, is borne out in ensuing achievements which resulted in the construction of one of the most beautiful buildings in St. Marys and one of the finest Aerie Homes in the State of Ohio.

With a definite and firm purpose, the Aerie and its attendant workings was successful from the start. At that time Wapakoneta was the nearest Aerie and many applications were received from New Bremen and surrounding territory for membership which showed an appreciable increase at the end of the first year. By October, 1906 there were sixty members added to the roll.

The spirit of Eagledom has begun its spread of good fellowship. As witness as excerpt from the minutes of November 22, 1906, which were recorded by F.A. Yacmett, Worthy Secretary at that time: "As previously arranged, the band had been hired to escort the Eagles to Brother John Brulport's home to serenade him, as you are aware Brother John has taken unto himself a wife. John took it good-naturedly and came back to the hall where he had refreshments and cigars prepared for all-about 80 in number. After abundance of good music and congratulations for Jack the members departed to their homes.

Incilentally with good fellowship, the Aerie functioned 100 per cent in the cooperation for civic charities. The record books do not account for even a part of their good and wholesome deeds extended to needy people in St. Marys and community. The virtue of charity is one of the chief requirements that are insisted upon by the Grand Aerie, and the Auglaize Aerie 767 has always prided itself upon the efficient and immediate response with which they have met these problems.

By 1909 the Aerie, visioning their expansion, appropriated a sum to renovate and equip for use what was known as the old" Atlantic Dance Hall" in what is now known as the Camielle Building. Here the Aerie made its home until August 1, 1922, when it was deemed wise to purchase a Home of their own. This they did in November 1922, --a real estate deal which made them the owners of what was known as the Wendeln property, located at the northeast comer of East Spring and North Spruce Streets. The officers in charge during this movement were: John Nipgen, W.P.; A. E. Silvers, W.v.P.; Dewey Sawyer, W.C.; P. H. Reilly, W.S.; George Holtzhauer, W.T.; Ferd Finke, LG.; Frank T. Bennett, D.G.: and Trustees-J. H. Wieman, Louis Moehl, J. Hertenstein, and Physician J. E. Heap.

In their new location, as in their first one, the Aerie prospered. In eighteen years of steady growth and worthwhile accomplishments the roots of Eagledom had become firmly imbedded in the community life and was accepted as a permanent and indispensable institute.

The Aerie felt the depression following 1929 as keenly as it was generally felt and unemployment began to take its tolls in lapsed membership. However, instead of accepting the condition as an irreparable one they turned a negative condition into one of positive.. Relentless in their drives to fill the resulting vacancies the ranks maintained an impressive showing and efforts to alleviate suffering and distress were redoubled. It was during this period that the "Eagle Shoe Fund" came into being, the purpose being to provide shoes for needy school children. As a result many children were able to continue their school work, when without the "Eagle Shoe Fund", they might have suffered severe educational handicaps. The spirit of Christmas too was ably maintained throughout the city, with the inauguration of a Santa Claus, who distributed baskets and gifts, lending cheer to the season that might easily have been accepted in the dismal acknowledgement of defeat in the face of inevitable conditions. The "Shoe Fund" is still in existence today up to date the St Marys Aerie of Eagles has purchased and distributed many thousands of pairs of shoes to needy school children.

In due time the financial condition of the lodge showed an exceptional fine balance on black. It is generally conceded that large part of this was due to the untiring efforts of one brother, Tod Towbridge, who so richly deserves what small amount of credit this scribe is able to give him in this brief history.

The Home had long been bought and paid for, it had served its purpose well, but even by building an addition the Aerie was again faced with a housing problem. The increased membership demanded more spacious and representative quarters.

Tuesday, October 17, 1939. by a vote of 70 for and 4 against, a proposal to build the present new home was carried under the guidance of the following officers: Albert Andreoni, W.P.; Raymond Hirsch, P.W.P.; Herbert Wildermuth, W.VP.: James Treece, W.C.; Joseph Gunderman, W.S.; John Vore, W.T.; and Trustees-Fred Hertenstein, Noah Finke and C. G. Maze, the last named serving out the unexpired term of Brother Henry Horch whom the Aerie lost in death. Wm. Meyers was Inner Guard and W. Hainline, Outer Guard.

Temporary quarters were established in the old Odd Fellows Home until the new home formally opened on October 13, 1940. Inasmuch as no definite system of filing minutes and notes was established in the temporary quarters pending the move to the new Home, the matter of compiling the above notations was of necessity somewhat generalized, although the dates and names mentioned have been accurately checked.

Really the beautiful new Home bespeaks of the history of Aerie 767 in a manner that words cannot tell. It was the symbolization of the worthy human side of life. It was a permanent monument to those hearts and minds in our City who made it so... That it's traditions will be carried on with a reflection of true gratefulness to those who carried on before was adequately insured by a membership of approximately 700.

During the week of June 26th through July 2nd, 1944 the Aerie held a 40th Anniversary Celebration with such highlights on the program as the burning of the mortgage, open house to the public, bingo, and social cards, dances and floor shows, banquets for charter members, and District Victory Meeting, making for all a gala week.

The workers of the Aerie spared no effort to make this Golden Anniversary Celebration an outstanding event in the history of the Aerie and hoped to innate a large class in honor of the two living charter members and hoped to renew the interest and fraternalism in the hearts of the old members and at the same time become better acquainted and friendlier with our surrounding neighbor Aeries.

THE SECOND FIFTY YEARS

By: Dave Sprague, Secretary

The year 1954 marked the 50th anniversary of the Fraternal Order of Eagles in St. Marys. The year also marked the beginning of a new period for the Eagles. Our membership continued to grow, we expanded our support to the community, and we even constructed another new home.

The first half-century saw the Aerie outgrow its first home, purchase its second home, and build its third home. It also saw the membership grow from the 93 civic-minded members who chartered the Aerie in 1904 to more than 800 who belonged when the Golden Anniversary was celebrated in 1954. Programs and service to the community also grew. Eagle members in St. Marys truly believed in the Eagles motto: "People Helping People." An article in the April 21, 1954 Evening Leader stated that: "the Aerie reached its peak during the 1939-1940 when the fine new home was erected here, there having been a single Dedication Class at the time of over 250 candidates. This class was so large that initiation ceremony was held, out of necessity, in the High School Stadium." The article goes on to say that "members point out the local unit has been traditionally active in charitable, patriotic and civic affairs and has contributed generously toward all causes, ranging all the way from individual distress assistance to funds raised for procurement of local factories."

The building dedicated on October 17, 1940, served members very well for many years. By 1950, Trustees announced that Aerie 767 "is debt free and in good condition financially as well as fraternally." The Aerie was remodeled several times, most notably a complete face-lift of the social room that included a new kitchen and bar. Members also voted to expand the propertied owned by the Aerie when they purchased the property directly east of the building that was formerly occupied by the East School. Members owned a building on the site that was leased as a grocery store for many years. They also purchased several homes to the north of the building in order to expand parking facilities.

Several times in the 1970s and 1980s members investigated expanding the Aerie, as membership continued to grow and programs expanded with the ever-present goal of supporting the community. Several plans were developed to expand the Aerie, but members were hesitant to change the facade of the home, and the building grew more cramped. In 1995, members authorized investigating building a new Aerie.

Garmann Miller Associates, an architectural consultant, completed a study of the existing properties owned by the Aerie. The study focused on the feasibility of remodeling the former grocery for our use, or demolishing it and putting those uses in the basement of a new building. Remodeling the 1940 building to bring it into compliance with State building code was also considered. The study looked at the issue from several different angles, the most important being the economic feasibility of one versus the other. The cost for renovating the grocery store for our use would have exceeded $400,000, while the cost to remodel the Aerie would have exceeded $500,000. The study concluded that money would be better spent putting those costs into a new building, and the grocery store was demolished. 

Garmann Miller Associates was hired to design a new, state-of-the-art-home, to be situated on land immediately east of the existing building where the former grocery store had been located. Plans called for the 1940 building to be demolished and the site utilized for parking. In 1996, members decided the project was too costly with the funds available at the time, and voted against building the new Aerie. By 1999, the finances of the Aerie had improved enough that Officers once again asked permission from the members to investigate building a new Aerie, based on the plans developed in 1996. Permission was granted, and bids were received on May 24, 1999.

On July 6, 1999, members overwhelmingly voted 95 - 2 to construct the new home. They did not enter the project lightly. A financial analysis completed by the Small Business Development Center at the Lake Campus, Wright State University, showed the building could be afforded. Members also recognized the impact the building would have on membership and the St. Marys community.

Contractors included Baumer Construction of Minster for the general contract, Ohio Plumbing and Heating of Celina for the plumbing and heating and ventilating contract, and Dayton Fire Protection for the fire protection contract. Community First Bank and Trust of St. Marys provided financing for the new building. An honorary ground breaking took place on August 23, 1999 and the new Aerie was occupied on September 26, 2000. Construction costs for the new Aerie totaled $2,069,262. Of this amount, $1,300,000 was financed; the balance was paid through cash reserves.

A dedication ceremony was held on November 19, 2000. Building Committee members recognized during the ceremony included: Harold Doseck, Chairman, Neal Weadock, Terry Hubbell, Dave Sprague, and Doug Grimm. Officers recognized during the ceremony included: Past Worthy President Steve Moyar, Worthy President Jeff Nelson, Vice President Dan Metzger, Chaplain Earl Lower, Conductor Don Nagel, Inside Guard Derek Schmidt, Secretary Dave Sprague, Treasurer Wayne Lybarger, Auditor Leroy Nagel, and Trustees: Terry Hubbell, Tony Toben, and Neil Rohrbach. Also recognized were previous officers, who were involved in either the design or construction of the new building: Jim Schelby, Doug Grimm, Jim Fishbaugh, Neal Weadock, Ned Seimer, and John Winget.

During the ceremony, three people who epitomize the Eagle saying "Although the world may scoff and jest, a life of service is best, and happiness will always be to him who serves humanity" were recognized. Certificates of Appreciation were presented to Jeff Nelson, "In Recognition of Valuable Contribution to the Building of Our New Home" and to Ronda Shelby "in Recognition of Valuable Contribution to the Youth of our Community, for Auglaize Aerie 767." Jeff Nelson led the effort to build the new Aerie and also provided construction inspection services. Ronda Shelby has chaired our "God, Flag and Country" speech contest and " What I Like About Our Hometown: art contest committees for over forty years.

A special recognition was presented to Leroy Nagel for his service to the Eagles, and to the St. Marys community and its youth. Leroy has served the Eagles in every officer position, chaired our Bingo committee, served as Aerie Auditor for many years, and generally guided the Eagles towards making our community and its youth better. The Certificate of Recognition certifies that Leroy Nagel, a devoted Brother Eagle, who has aided this Aerie ceaselessly and tirelessly, through all its difficulties and triumphs, and who has devoted himself to the betterment of the St. Marys community and its youth through his devotion to the Aerie, is hereby Recognized, and the fellowship hall of our new home, Auglaize Aerie 767, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Saint Marys, Ohio, is hereby Dedicated this 19th day of November, 2000 as the Leroy Nagel Hall."

Fittingly, the new Aerie was dedicated To our devoted Brothers, past and present, who have aided this Aerie, through all its difficulties and triumphs from the Charter day June 30, 1904, to this day, November 19, 2000, do we Dedicate our new Aerie home, Auglaize Aerie 767, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Saint Marys, Ohio."

St. Marys Eagles presently has about 1,500 Aerie and 500 Auxiliary members who continue to uphold the Fraternal Order of Eagles' traditional values of home, family, and community. We donate over $75,000 each year to charities, civic events, school and youth activities, and other worthwhile causes, a result of many hours of work by many members who ask nothing in return, always working toward the betterment of our community. We truly believe that today's youth are tomorrow's leaders, and eagerly support our young people in many ways. Locally, we support and sponsor numerous local youth programs and activities, such as sports teams, reading and writing programs, drug awareness, scouting, author visits, scholarships, handicapped children activities, and many others.

We are also proud to support the National Eagle Charities. Millions of dollars are raised nationwide each year to provide assistance to charitable, scientific and educational institutions and organizations. We fund research in areas such as heart and kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, and spinal cord injuries. We support senior citizen programs through our Golden Eagle Fund, mentally or physically challenged children and other youth programs through our Jimmy Durante Children's Fund, and provide for our own children through the Memorial Foundation, which gives medical and educational aid to the children of any eagle member who loses their life while on the job.

The Eagles are "People Helping People" and, as we begin our second century in St. Marys, we look forward to expanding our membership and our service to our community.

St. Marys Eagles Aerie 767

1904 -2004

100 Year Anniversary

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Last modified: 11/13/2006