Trustee E.B. Knight, left, and President Bill Witt of Holly Lodge No. 18, Woodmen of the World, show one of the flags that the local organization distributes to non-profit groups such a Boy Scouts, churches and schools. The lodge was founded in 1901, and recently observed its 112th anniversary. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES/TIDEWATER NEWS
Trustee E.B. Knight, left, and President Bill Witt of Holly Lodge No. 18, Woodmen of the World, show one of the flags that the local organization distributes to non-profit groups such a Boy Scouts, churches and schools. The lodge was founded in 1901, and recently observed its 112th anniversary. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES/TIDEWATER NEWS

Archived Story

Woodmen’s Holly Lodge 18 observes 112th anniversary

Published 9:00am Wednesday, March 20, 2013

BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Playback58@gmail.com

FRANKLIN—Members and guests of Woodmen of the World, Holly Lodge No. 18, celebrated the local chapter’s 112th anniversary last week. While the number might not have the same significance as the 100th, it is not the years but the service that really counts for the members.

“The satisfaction of doing something for someone else. That’s what we were put here for,” said Bill Witt, 80, on why he belongs to the WOW.

“My wife, Ira, was in it before I was. I belonged to other lodges at the time,” said Witt. She asked, ‘Why don’t you join?’”

So he did 20 years ago, and for the past 12 years he’s served as its president.

As one might expect, the Franklin-based chapter has made donations to familiar causes such as the Relay For Life, March of Dimes and the Alzheimer’s Association.

Representatives from such charities will visit at meetings and educate lodge members on what they’re doing, said Witt.

Then there’s the support for the two Virginia WOW youth camps, one in Crewe, the other in Thaxton. These one-week summer sessions are for youths ages 8 through 15.

“One of our biggest projects for WOW is handing out flags to schools and other non-profit organizations that really need one,” said six-year member and trustee E.B. Knight, 73. This has been done by Woodmen everywhere since 1947. The dedication of flagpoles was begun in 2002 in memory of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. This spring, Lodge 18 will present three flagpoles to Boy Scout Troop 17.

All that’s in keeping with WOW’s commitment to family, community and country.

“We are very patriotic,” said William “Bill” Earley, 84, who will mark his 68th year in WOW this May. He added that although the organization is not Christian-based, it does act on Christian principles of “loving neighbors, helping them.”

WOW began in 1890 by Joseph Cullen Root in Omaha, Neb. The goal was to make “life insurance available to everyone,” according to the organization’s website.

“Basically, it was a savings plan for me. Back then, $1,000 was a whole lot of money to a little farm boy helping his daddy,” said Earley, who was 15 at the time he joined in his father’s lodge, No. 328 in Ahoskie, N.C. Since then Earley has served as lodge president and vice president, and remains a trustee.

The lodges are named for trees, he said, owing to WOW’s early connection with pioneers and people associated with the lumber industry. Witt added that the insurance aspect was aimed toward helping those hurt cutting trees.

Holly Lodge No. 18 meets at 6:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at 205 W. Fourth Ave. For more information, call Witt at 562-6631.

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