Seymour Elks elects first female exalted ruler


For more than 100 years, Elks Lodge 462 has been ruled by men.

That changed April 7 when Gayla O’Connor of Brownstown became the first female exalted ruler for the Seymour lodge.

O’Connor also was the first female in one of the leading office chairs in April 2015 when she was elected Esteemed Lecturing Knight. Current Treasurer Julia Aker became the lodge’s first female officer in April 2014.

This year’s leadership has the most women in lodge history with O’Connor and Aker joined by Esteemed Lecturing Knight Barb Lucas, Inner Guard Charlotte East, Esquire Jewel Hancock and the first female trustee, Judy Carpenter.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks was founded in New York City in the late 1800s by a group of men who wanted to create a service-oriented organization. Although women were allowed to participate in events and volunteer as spouses, they could not become an Elks member until 1995. Some states still have lodges without female members.

The Seymour lodge was chartered in 1899 with various locations around Seymour, including the current building that houses Brewskies Downtown.

Lodge meetings, conducted on the second floor of 117 E. Second St., are the first and third Wednesday at 7 pm.

This past year in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the lodge with just more than 100 members donated more than $9,000 to local organizations, including The Alley Kitchen, Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, Community Provisions of Jackson County, Rock’n Ready school supply program and Seymour Youth League.

For information about the Seymour Elks lodge, contact secretary and third-generation Elk Fred Lewis at 812-530-6633.

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