The building at 110 Broad Street was the first two-story brick building in town. It stood alone for years. Built by the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) in 1898, the second floor was then, and remains today, the meeting hall of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs of Globe-Miami.
“There’s a lot of history in this building,” says Greg Parisoff, current lodge President. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Sometimes behind glass encasement, but often under harsh light, the second floor holds historical records and ceremonial relics of a social organization once prominent in our society, now struggling to survive.
“It’s a challenge just to keep this beautiful building open and to keep the Odd Fellows going,” says Greg, “not just here but in the whole state. The whole country.”
The original mission of the IOOF was to help widows and orphans. This was considered an odd ambition in the 1700s, and that’s how the Odd Fellows fraternity got its name.
Today the IOOF provides a framework that promotes personal and social development through the principles of friendship, love and truth. Regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, rank and station, everyone is welcome and worthy of care.
“Our main theme is to visit the sick, bury the dead, educate the orphans and help widows,” says Debbie Guthrey, a former State President of the order and 30-year member.
IOOF became the first national fraternity to include women when it adopted the Rebekah Degree in 1851, Nearly 70 years before women were allowed to vote or run for public office in the United States. The general duties of the Rebekahs are “to live peaceably, do good unto all, as we have opportunity and especially to obey the Golden Rule, Whatsoever ye would that others should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.”
“We used to wear long skirts and suits,” says Debbie, “but that has kind of gone by the wayside.”
The original Globe Lodge No. 6 was chartered in 1885. Membership was limited to mining management at Old Dominion Mine. That charter was nullified as it went against the creed of inclusiveness and the current lodge was instituted as Globe Rescue Lodge No. 12 in 1891.
Famous local Odd Fellows included Gary Clark, Sheriff John Thompson, Senator Bill Hardt, Gila County Supervisor and minority house leader, Edward G “Bunch” Guererro, and Governor George Hunt.
Rise and Fall of Membership
Following a high point for active membership (over a 100 people) in the 1960s and 1970s,
the IOOF, along with other fraternal organizations such as Lions, Elks, Shriners, Jaycees and the Masons saw their membership drop 12-44% during the 1980s and 1990s. The decline in civic and social engagement is attributed to many factors including busy-ness, changing role of women in society, residential mobility, rise of the welfare state, and generational and technological changes.
“I think it’s the culture,” says Greg. “We’re losing some of the personalization of society.”
In Europe, where the Odd Fellows were founded, the IOOF remains a huge social organization with $10,000 dues and dinners in tuxedos and ball gowns. There is a huge waiting list.
One hard fact is that the members of social and civic organizations are getting older. One member of Globe’s IOOF lodge is 97.
“We got the elevator so that we could keep our members going,“ says Dan Guthrey, an IOOF member for 20 years and the go-to guy when something needs fixing.
The slow-moving elevator replaces the wheelchair lift that once carried the elderly up and down the 32 stairs in the alley. Purported to be “scarier than crap,” it is currently out of commission and too costly to fix to code.
Everyone agrees there is a need to reach younger people to keep social and civic organizations alive and thriving. So what is the benefit of being part of I.O.O.F or the many other social fraternities?
“Helping people!” responds Debbie. “Geez, there are people that need help.”
She runs through the many needs that arise that the Odd Fellows step up to fill. For years, they supported the Summer Youth Musical Program at CVCA, baseball teams, and student pilgrimage to the United Nations in New York. Debbie is particularly proud of a toy drive conducted by the Rebekahs.. They collected and cleaned up stuffed toys and gave them to the fire department, DPS officers and hospital emergency room staff.
“When a fire truck pulls up, the kid is either going to be excited or scared,” says Debbie. “Handing them a stuffed animal really helps.”
The latest contribution by the Odd Fellows was at the Globe cemetery. Leon Garlinghouse noticed the cemetery gate was in disrepair and led the effort to get it painted, put the arch back on and new fencing up.
“It looks real pretty now,” says Debbie.
In 1910 a plot of land was acquired next to the Globe Cemetery for use by IOOF members and their dependents. When requested, the Rebekahs perform a graveside funeral service.
“The Rebekah service is like a regular service without a pastor,” says Debbie. “It’s very meaningful, very quiet.”
Like many social organizations, IOOF saw membership decline again in past years as meetings and events were knocked out by Covid. However, things are picking up at IOOF in Globe.
They’ve hosted two dinners since the pandemic. Nearly 60 members from the state of Arizona came the week before Thanksgiving for a turkey dinner. Members cooked at home and brought it in. They brought out the good china to serve it.
The group is currently working with the City to find a way to best use the beautiful building for community benefit and keep it maintained with funds from the two leases by businesses on the ground floor. Globe Hardware was the earliest occupant of the business space down below, currently occupied by Peace Out Salon.
A Big Idea — Call for Collaboration
There are currently only seven IOOF lodges throughout Arizona, down from a high of 30-something. If a state drops below 5 lodges, they lose their State charter. 7 members are required to maintain a lodge. The IOOF lodge in Globe currently has 12-15 members. They recently grew their ranks by inviting friends. Low annual dues. High comradery. Good eating.
“The reason I joined and the reason I stay is the people,” says Greg Parisoff.
He also loves the history of Globe and the history of IOOF – its building and its role in society. In a 21st century response to an 18th century mission, he and Rescue Lodge No. 12 have identified the need for a safe place for kids. Though Gila House exists as a haven for victims of domestic abuse, children that are displaced due to violence in the home often get sent to Tucson or Phoenix.
“If we could get people from several groups involved, we could staff a house,” says Debbie. “One adult for up to 4 kids.The more kids the bigger the whole thing gets.”
“It will need to be a collaboration,” Greg understates.
It’s bigger than an event or a drive. It’s a long-term commitment to address the impact of domestic violence in our community.* Talking about it is a good start. They’ll need a structure up to the standards of DPS and Dept. of Health, process, staffing and training for the care of traumatized children and communication amongst various stakeholders.
Most members of the Odd Fellows also participate in other civic and social organizations. Debbie and Dan Guthrey belong to the Lions and the Elks. Greg, too, is a member of the Elks, and the Rotary Club. When it comes to civic engagement, he estimates that about 100 people in the community are doing stuff and the rest are on the sidelines.
“If people want to see a difference,” Greg advises, “they ought to do something.”
“It’s fun,” insists Debbie, “when you share in the helping, share in the caring.”
*Arizona ranks 5th highest in the nation for domestic violence and Gila County has rates 3 times the state average.
Patricia Sanders lived in Globe from 2004 to 2008 and at Reevis Mountain School, in the Tonto National Forest, from 2008 to 2014. She has been a writer and editor for GMT since 2015. She currently lives on Santa Maria island in the Azores.