‘A driving force’

Dick Tuggle played a major role in securing Elks Lodge 462’s new home in downtown Seymour and was instrumental in getting it up and operating.

In 2012, his health began to decline, but his spirit and determination kept him going. By September, all of his projected goals for the lodge were completed except for one.

That last project was a memorial garden at the lodge to honor members — living or dead — who have made an impact since the club’s inception in 1899.

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As work on the garden began, Tuggle’s cancer hit late stage. He died Sept. 5, 2012.

The project sat idle for a couple of years before Nancy Erp took charge. On Sunday, the Elks Lodge 462 Memorial Garden was dedicated at the downtown Seymour lodge.

“Thanks to Nancy Erp, she became the driving force behind this project to get it completed,” project coordinator Bud Basil said. “Today, the dedication makes all of Dick’s projects complete.”

The garden consists of two concrete benches, a memorial stone with an inscription and the Elks emblem, four concrete planters, 80 concrete bricks and a flagpole. There is space to add bricks.

The garden was constructed by Steve Bobb. He finished it before having to have partial knee replacement, so his father, Dr. Kenneth Bobb, spoke on his behalf at Sunday’s ceremony.

“This is one of the last things that Steve did before he went for his surgery,” Kenneth Bobb said. “He did this with the love in his heart for the Elks club.”

Exalted ruler Mark Hancock introduced the ceremony’s speakers and accepted the garden. One of the speakers was state Elks President Ed Dyer.

He called the garden a “beautiful, beautiful addition” to the lodge.

“It’s always interesting when you are bringing a new member or prospective member around and they see something like this,” Dyer said. “It’s important because not only do we remember our members, we cherish our people and we have lifelong friendships that develop from being an Elk.”

Dyer said the garden makes him think of the phrase “Thou are I and I am thou,” which is uttered during funeral services for Elks members.

“Somewhere along the way, part of being an Elk, we all mesh together,” he said. “Some of my fondest memories of former Elks that have passed on have been when I’ve had the opportunity to speak at their funeral, and I just remember good times we had together. Then I can remember those even more so when I would see their name inscribed as such.”

Don Hill, past exalted ruler and past district deputy, said one other person played an important role in the formation of the garden.

Past exalted ruler Bill Heavin planned the details of the garden that was in the front of the lodge’s former location, which included a country club and golf course, on U.S. 50 just west of Seymour.

But the golf course became a housing development, the garden grew up in weeds, and the memorial stone lay leaning as if forgotten, Hill said.

“One Elk would have none of that,” Hill said. “He was our friend, Dick Tuggle.”

Hill said Tuggle had not been an active lodge member in the past but stepped forward to take the leadership to remodel an old building downtown and make it the lodge’s new home.

He also remembered the old garden and put a plan together to revitalize it, securing the stone and bringing it to the present location and putting a program in place to offer memorial bricks.

“Dick knew he would not live to see the results, but that didn’t deter him from carrying on,” Hill said. “He worked at it until his passing. Dick Tuggle is certainly remembered here today.”

Other Elks stepped forward to see the job done. Hill encouraged members to do the same with all of the lodge’s charitable work.

“There are lodge offices to be filled. Be one of those who step forward,” he said. “If you don’t see what needs to be done, then ask. If you are one to bring forth new ideas, go about the lodge way of getting it done. You are the strength, and only you can make our lodge strive forward into the future.”

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Seymour Elks Lodge 462:

  • Supports veterans in VA hospitals and nursing homes
  • Presents Flag Day program
  • Sponsors Boys and Girls Club teams
  • Presents more than 600 dictionaries to third-graders
  • Sponsors Hoop Shoot free-throw contest
  • Awards scholarships to high school seniors
  • Supports Indiana Elks Association cancer research
  • Supports United Way, DARE, Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, Anchor House Family Assistance Center, Community Provisions of Jackson County and Boys and Girls Club of Seymour