Jeb Bladine: Honoring service; remembering JCs

Our Tuesday N-R profile of Debbie Harmon Ferry initiated something different — publication of features about Distinguished Service Award winners prior to the event. This year’s DSA Banquet is all about change with announcement of the transition to a new event-sponsoring organization: the reinstituted Independent Order of Odd Fellows Occidental Lodge No. 30.

Let’s call them McMinnville Odd Fellows, for short.

The program also is about continuity, looking back at the much-valued history of longtime DSA sponsor, McMinnville Jaycees. Consider this a call-out to past Jaycees to consider attending the May 7 awards banquet and help acknowledge what the service organization meant to McMinnville.

Young men in Jaycees — more recently young men and women — undertook all manner of local service projects during the group’s 59-year life span. In the process they gained experience and confidence, and enduring appreciation for the value of service to community.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

At one time there were 350,000 members of Jaycee chapters throughout the country; now, only about 12,000. McMinnville Jaycees closed its doors in 2013, and today Oregon has only four Jaycee chapters with about 75 members.

So, as a prelude to recognition for some deserving local leaders, this year’s DSA program will reflect on six decades of Jaycees and offer that local group a fond and formal farewell. To all you past members, feel free to share a memory about a project or other experience with Jaycees, using my contact information at the bottom.

Here, for example, is one memory from a 1980s Jaycee: “I attribute all my successes over the years to my involvement with the Mac Jaycees. The experiences and knowledge of running successful projects gave me the confidence and belief I needed.”

Speaking of traditions, consider the history behind McMinnville Odd Fellows:

The Order of Odd Fellows, founded in England in the 1700s, evolved in 1819 into the Independent Order of Odd Fellows — a non-political, non-sectarian fraternal order. McMinnville Lodge No. 30 was established in 1870; built the Odd Fellows Lodge at Third and Ford streets in 1909; and consolidated with Sheridan Odd Fellows in 1997 due to lack of local membership.

It caused quite a stir in Oregon, and nationally, when the “new-look” membership group in McMinnville reinstituted I.O.O.F. Lodge No. 30 in 2017, and became McMinnville’s newest service and fraternal organization.

Credit the “Fab Five” ladies and McMinnville City Club for keeping the DSA Banquet alive these past five years. Reservations and tickets for the May 7 event are available through Cassie Sollars, cassie@oregon.com, 971-241-0153.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.


Don Dix

Truth be told, the Mac JayCees were members of the state and national organizations, but mostly in name only. There were all sorts of requirements, reports, and agendas that we simply ignored. Our focus was strictly local, much to the chagrin of our parent orgs.

We were so intent on keeping our efforts local, we passed a bylaw that restricted our hard earned funds be spent only in Yamhill County (except dues to state and national). The state was not impressed, but our membership was one of the strongest and most active around, so they pretty much left us alone.

A short list of accomplishments by the Mac JayCees include: Kids Fish Derby, Kid wrestling, 2 all weather tracks at the high school, football and basketball programs that evolved when the grade schools dropped sports, tree planting around the city, a hunter safety program, etc.

These (and other) projects affected and included thousands of citizens over the years, mostly directed at the youth of the area. And the benefits to the members were the many happy smiles, laughter, and thanks for our efforts. It couldn't have been scripted any better.

When one revisits what was accomplished over the years, I'm proud to have been associated with an organization that left an such indelible footprint on this city! R.I.P Mac JayCees -- Service to humanity is the best work of life!

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