By PETE FONTAINE
There was an impressive installation – that started with a cocktail party and ended with a food-fest featuring a choice of a prime rib or roasted chicken dinner – …
By PETE FONTAINE
There was an impressive installation – that started with a cocktail party and ended with a food-fest featuring a choice of a prime rib or roasted chicken dinner – Sunday afternoon at the Tri-City Elks in Warwick.
In the middle of it all was James “Jim” Fletcher, an area supervisor at Electric Boat, who was installed as the 11th Exalted Ruler since Tri-City’s merger with the former Warwick, Providence, Pawtucket and Cranston Lodges, back in 2006.
Likewise, 14 other Elks members were installed into respective offices to lead the ever-growing and highly-active Lodge 14 for the 2022-2023 calendar year.
Fletcher succeeds Deborah Mangina – who served a record-tying three years as Exalted Ruler and “cares deeply about the lodge.” She will continue to be as active as ever while maintaining the position of 365 Outing/Special Needs Picnic, Hall Rental Chairperson, 5-Year Trustee and “whatever else I can do to help continue the great work our members are doing.”
An example of Mangina’s caring and sharing came during the traditional presentation of gifts to fellow officers as well as turning the clock back to when Deb Petisce – yet another valuable volunteer at Lodge 14 – “signed me up back in 2013 and I’ve continued to love and enjoy my time at the lodge.”
Petisce – who is a multi-talented artist – presented Mangina – who is a dental assistant for the State of Rhode Island -- with what the out-going leader called “one of the most beautiful (seaside) paintings I’ve ever seen.”
Mangina also received a plaque form Donna Warner, a ranking state Elks officer and PER (Past Exalted Ruler) that read: “This is in recognition of all your hard work, dedication and meritorious service to Tri-City Elks Lodge. The Rhode Island State Association of Elks. You are a rock star.”
Leo Blanchette, who holds the prestigious positon as the top ranking Elk in Rhode Island per order of the Grand Lodge, praised Mangina for her “extraordinary efforts during her three-year term and told people inside the jam-packed meeting room: “The Tri-City Elks are an extremely dedicated lodge and you have a lot to be proud.”
As for Fletcher, who people will tell you is a man of few words and whose popularity surfaced with cheers-upon-cheers when Mark Andrade District Deputy Grand Lodge installed the new Exalted Ruler, was asked if, in fact, he had a platform for the coming year or any special plans.
“No,” the soft-spoken leader offered, “I just want to help continue the success this great lodge has become known for.”
Fletcher also received words of praise – as well as a special vote of confidence from Mark Eaton, a ranking state Elks officer who Blanchette and others reiterated turned the once-floundering lodge into one of the most expected Elks lodge in New England.
Eaton and his wife Lori – who is PER (Past Exalter Ruler) and Lodge 14’s Elk for all seasons and reason – also took part in the traditional presentation of gifts to various members for their special work and going beyond the call of duty. She was also recognized by Blanchette for her unmatched work at the VA Hospital RI Veterans Home in Bristol.
While Fletcher was installed as Exalted Ruler, Richard “Rick” Swanson – a 28-year veteran of the Rhode Island State Police and Patrol Commander at the Hope Valley Barracks -- was installed as Esteemed Leading Knight with Mark Donahue taking the post as Esteemed Loyal Night and Swanson’s wife Kim serving as Esteemed Lecturing Knight.
Mark Merlino was installed as secretary, taking over for William “Bill” Hall who retired after holding the all-important post for the past seven years. Marianne Beirne will continue as Lodge 14 Treasurer with PER David Knight continuing as Esquire pure and Elisabeth Marsh as Chaplin. Ann Licciardi is the Inn Guard while Eric Lopes become the new Tiler.
Lodge 14 Trustees, in addition to Mangina, are: Lori Eaton, Donna Warner, Mark Eaton and Robert Hartington, who are also Past Exalted Rulers.
Past Exalted Rulers, who have held the position since 2006, are: Steve Lagesse, Helen Defosse (3 terms), Pat Chamberlain, Donna Warner (2 terms), Mark Eaton (2 terms), Charles Greaves, David Knight, Lori Eaton, Bob Hartington and Mangina (3 terms.)
So, amid the annual pomp and circumstance during Sunday’s installation, which featured top ranking Elks from all of the state’s 10 lodges, the annual Rite of March -- which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 Pandemic – concluded with what people called “an absolut3ely delicious dinner prepared and cooked Chef Dennis “Goober” Martel and Lodge 14’s popular music man Rob Caramante.
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