Samuel E. Meyer
Samuel E. Meyer, who rode his signature Harley to the IEA third vice presidency in 1998, received a fitting escort to his final resting place when he died in October 2017.
The Mission, Texas, Rio Grande Valley Veterans Military Motocycle Riders escorted Sam, 75, testimony to Sam and his love of motorcycles. Sam had been living in a special care center in Weslaco, Texas, at the time, several years after moving to the Lone Star State for warmer weather.
Past District Deputy Sharon Kay Dirck of Dixon Lodge 779 recalled her friend Sam and his love of Harleys, which riveled his love of the BPOE, in the eulogy she delivered on his behalf at the IEA Annual Meeting in May in Springfield.
“Sam’s love of Harley Davidson motorcycles was known by all who knew him – it was how he got around the state,” Dirck said. “He’d just roll his suit coat up and put it in the saddle bags and away he would go to meetings.”
When he faced a contested race for third vice president, Sam was inventive in pulling out all the stops. He would not be denied.
“Sam went out and bought many different give-aways, things like letter openers, fans, pens and many other items,” Dirck recalled. “On that May night in 1998 – the night before the big vote – Sam distributed these items to every room in the hotel.”
He won that race and started his climb to IEA state president in 2000-01. He also had been exalted ruler of Dixon Lodge when he was elected third vice president. He served another stint as Dixon ER in 2006, but was forced to step down to recover from injuries he sustained after wiping out from hitting a deer while riding his Harley.
A year later, Sam was off on his Harley to the Grand Lodge Session in Charlotte, N.C., for Lou Sulsberger’s election as Grand Exalted Ruler.
The summer 2007 Newsette featured “Easy Rider” Sam aboard his Harley before the ride back home with a few fellow Elks. He just had to ride that stretch of road known as The Dragon, Dirck said.
The Princeton native’s pre-Elks days set the stage for his 39 years in Elkdom. He joined the Army in 1964, where he earned the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Sharpshooter Riffle Medal. He was honorably discharged from the Army in 1967.
Twelve years later, in June 1978, Sam joined Princeton Lodge. “The rest of his life would be entwined with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks,” Dirck said.
He was ER in 1985, when he helped start the lodge Teen of the Month program, followed by his election in 1990 as Northwest District junior trustee before becoming district vice president in 1992.
Dirck said she spoke after Sam died with Sam’s daughter Mary, whom Sam left behind, along with his second wife Ela Sue, stepson Steven and 10 grand- and great-grandchildren.
“Mary told me her dad never was looking for rewards or recognition; he just wanted to do good things,” Dirck said of Sam’s Elks involvement. “She told me he had three loves – traveling on his Harley, the Elks and his family.
“She really wasn’t sure in what order they came but knew they were what made up his life.”
Dirck described herself as one of the “lucky ones” to call Sam a close friend, who was a huge supporter of her own rise through Elkdom.
“Sam knew when we were holding state conventions. He would call to see who was around me. I would pass the phone around so Sam could stay in touch with his Elks brothers and sisters.
“I truly miss those check-in phone calls.
“More than half of Sam’s life was as an Elks member, and in those 39 years he touched so many lives,” the tearful Dirck concluded in her eulogy.
“Sam, I really hope you are able to ride around heaven on a Harley. I miss you.”
Bob Yeast, the 1988-89 IEA president who died in August, was recalled for his assent in life, business and the BPOE, owed in large part to his regard for humanity.
“As a businessman he was generous in giving back to the community, never asking for public recognition,” said IEA Secretary Marvin Leather, who eulogized Yeast at the Memorial Service held at the IEA Annual meeting in May.
“He was successful because he treasured friendship and respect for his peers. “He was a quiet man, not comfortable in long-winded conversations.”
Raised on a farm in the 1930s, Yeast was accustomed to hard work, to take nothing for granted and to appreciate what you have.
After graduating from high school in 1939, he worked in a porcelain factory as a precision grinder. With World War II looming, Yeast was ordered to take his grinding skills to the Arsenal in Rock Island to drill and finish machine gun barrels until 1943, when he was drafted in the Army Infantry and ordered to report to Camp Blanding, Fla.
Soon after sailing to Europe, he found live combat in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, later earning two Overseas Service Bars, a European-African-Middle Eastern Ribbon with three Bronze Battle Stars, a Good Conduct Medal and a WWII Victory Medal.
In 1957, Yeast left McDonough Power Co., where he had been working, to open his own business, Yeast Printing Inc., in which he was president and CEO for 58 years until retiring in 2015.
Yeast had joined Macomb Lodge 1009 in 1942 while in basic training in Florida, becoming active in the lodge after the war. He was exalted ruler in 1965-66, 10 years before beginning his journey through the IEA district offices He was district deputy in 1980-81.
He was elected IEA third vice president in 1984, and was president in 1988-89. He served on the Grand Lodge Ritualistic Committee in 1988-93, during which he was chairman in 1993-95.
Macomb Lodge honored Yeast with a roast in November 2013 to recognize his 71 years in Elkdom.
His wife Mary preceded him in death in 2007.
In high school, Yeast wanted to be an architect, but circumstances dictated he follow a different path, Leathers eulogized. The architectural skills that Bob acquired during his days at McDonough Power Co., though, served him well in 1950, when he designed and performed all the major construction on the first and only home he and Mary ever owned.
“They both resided in that home until they were no longer able to care for themselves,” Leathers said.
Andrew B. Wood
As much as the philanthropic service of Elkdom was a part of his life, so was Andrew B. Wood’s taste for sweets.
The 1985-86 IEA president, who died in February at age 89, enjoyed golf, reading, playing card, puzzles and woodworking, Wood also loved sweets.
“When I would shop for him, four bags each of Oreos, Fudge Stripes, Chewy Chips Ahoy and 12 large Hershey bars were always on the list,” said Pam Turner, past district deputy of Wheaton Lodge 2258, who delivered the eulogy for Wood at the IEA Annual Meeting in May in Springfield.
Wood joined the then-Wheaton-Glen Ellyn Lodge in November 1973 and was exalted ruler in 1979, and lodge Elk of the Year in 1982.
“Throughout the years he held numerous officer positions at Wheaton Lodge 2258, including keeper of the television remote and the lodge thermostat.”
Seriously, though, “he thrived in teaching new members the true meaning of being an Elk and never missed an orientation,” Turner said.
Wood was a special deputy in 1989-90 and district deputy in 1990-91. He also was on the Grand Lodge Public Relations Committee in 1997-98. He was grand esteemed lecturing knight in 2001-02.
In another tongue-in-cheek recollection, Turner recalled how Andy, as assistant to Grand Exalted Ruler Bob Sabin in 1988-89, did not hold back in keeping Sabin on the straight and narrow.
“He often frustrated Bob by telling him what needed to be said or done and how it should be said or done.”
Wood served in the U.S. Navy before marrying wife Carla Norman in 1948. She died in 2000. He was employed for 33 years at Westinghouse Lighting, working in the warehouse and retiring as west coast regional sales manager.
Andy was preceded in death by his son Douglas and his five siblings.