Local Elks’ Ron Sharrah assumes role in organization’s regional leadership

Sean C. Morgan

Sweet Home Elks Past Exalted Ruler Ron Sharrah is serving as district deputy to the grand exalted ruler for the Elks South Central District this year.

He participated in an installation cere-mony in New Orleans, La., on July 15. His term runs through June 30, 2015.

Sharrah accepted the position because he believes it’s an important role in the Elks organization, he said. “I had an opportunity to help all the lodges other than just my own. It’s an honor. I feel honored to have been considered for the position.”

Sharrah has served as exalted ruler in Sweet Home twice. His first term was partial. He completed a full term as exalted ruler in 2009-10. He has been active in the Elks in Sweet Home for about 15 years.

“There’s so much potential to do good,” Sharrah said. “I joined the Elks almost 18 years ago because I wanted to belong to something bigger than myself.”

He had been involved in the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity and the Children’s Guild in Salem. He donated his time to help the indigent, mainly elderly, prepare their tax returns. They were ways he could give back.

His nephew proposed Sharrah for membership in the Elks, he said.

“Initially, I was pretty disappointed.”

The Sweet Home lodge wasn’t very active, he said. It was meeting its charity goals, but “we were almost nonexistent in this community 15 years ago.”

If it had any exposure, it was negative, Sharrah said, adding that he decided he could be part of the solution and do more than just go through the motions.

Since that time, the lodge and its members have become more active and more visible in the community, with membership increasing in the past seven to eight years.

The key, he said, is to follow the manuals and statutes of the organization, which was founded in 1876.

As district deputy, he has two functions, Sharrah said. First is to report on the condition of the district’s six lodges to the grand exalted ruler.

“My second duty is to help them in any way I can,” Sharrah said. He wants to be involved in the lodges beyond making sure they stay in compliance with Elks requirements. He hopes to motivate them and help them improve.

“My biggest challenge is seeing them use the manuals more, activities, volunteerism and start recruiting members,” he said. Like Sweet Home, Corvallis and Cottage Grove have been growing, and he sees it as his job to help the other lodges succeed the same way.

Sharrah is a retired patrol boat captain with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. His 65-foot patrol boat and crew of five operated from the Mexican border to San Francisco 200 miles into the Pacific Ocean.

After he retired, he went fishing for a year, he said. “I thought I’d never get tired of fishing. I actually did.”

That’s when he started volunteering, and he started a business building log cabins. He married Patricia Sharrah in 1994. They have seven children and nine grandchildren and make their home on Speasl Road.

The Sweet Home Elks Lodge has about 348 members, with eight initiations scheduled for September. The lodge is involved in a variety of charitable activities. Its members are leading the Sweet Home Auditorium Remodel Committee and its effort to repair and improve the Sweet Home High School auditorium.

Through the Elks National Foundation, its members also sponsor an annual Hoop Shoot, the Americanism essay contest and several scholarships. The lodge also supports Elks Children’s Eye Clinic at the Casey Eye Institute at the Oregon Health and Science University.

On Sept. 29, the Elks will host its annual Back to School celebration from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. During the event, students will play games to win prizes – supplies for their schools based on wish lists from teachers.

Anyone interested in joining the Elks Lodge may call Sharrah at (541) 231-7303 or the lodge at (541) 367-3559.