by Andy Pampuro
The 81st Grand Lodge Convention was held this year in the city of Fresno at the beautiful Double Tree Hotel. Some of the delegates arrived on Tuesday, June 20th while the rest arrived on the 21st. The convention officially opened on the 22nd,
Edna Esposito from the C. Colombo Lodge announced the names of all the State Chairs and the State Officers. The president of the Columbo Stella Lodge, Olivia Deliddo Gallegas welcomed us to the convention.
The Grand Lodge Honor Guard presented the colors. They were Manny Finazzo, Mauro Romagnoli and Marco Zonni. All were service veterans. Immediate Past State President Maria Pignati sang the Italian and the American National anthems. The invocation was given by Father Rod Craig, a local priest.
Our State President Lynn Lawrence Murphy welcomed the delegates. The host lodges presented our First Gent, Bill Murphy, with a great big bottle of booze.
Our Queen Committee Chair Eva Lavezzari introduced the top five queens who were in attendance. They each said a few words and was presented a small gift. They were our Grand Lodge Queen Mary Locido, Miss America Elizabeth Lavezzari, Miss Italy Christine Bianco, Miss California Gabrielle Benedetti and Miss Convention City Baylin Herington.
The Sons of Italy National Foundation Trustee Phil Privitera was introduced to the delegates. He spoke very highly about our Grand Lodge and he also spoke very highly of the Il Leone newspaper and it’s editor. Last year he donated $1000 to the Il Leone sponsorship program and this year he doubled it to $2000. Such a wonderful gesture.
The necrologio was beautifully done by John Nardi, the president of the Columbia Lodge. The list of the deceased is very long.
The credential reports was given each session by Pam Buldo who did a great job.
Each of the State Officers gave their reports as did the chairs of committees. We started off with our State President Lynn Lawrence Murphy and then on down the line. We missed our State Financial Secretary Gabe Domenici who could not attend the convention this year because his wife, Mardell, recently had a stroke and Gabe had to be home with her. We certainly wish her the best.
We broke for lunch to attend the President’s Luncheon. Our State President was honored as well as all of the Past State Presidents who were in attendance and the local lodge presidents. Olivia Deliddo Gallegas was the M.C. for the event. Each president received a gift.
Our National First Vice President and Past Grand Lodge President Vera Girolami told us about her family life. It was very interesting. We are hoping Vera will be elected our National President.
More discussion on the sale of the Grand Lodge building was held and it was pro and con. We voted to give the Grand Lodge officers permission to further investigate the situation.
For the evening event we attended an American Graffiti Dinner Dance. Many of the delegates dressed in costumes and the winners of the best costumes were for 3rd place Hank and Michelle Lowinger, for 2nd place Joy Bruno and for 1st place the winners were Mark and Lori Rossi. They were all fantastic. We were entertained during the cocktail hour by the singing of Louie Lodi and the accordion playing of Joe Simoni. It was a lot of fun.
On Friday morning we heard from Judge Al Girolami about the proposed by law changes.
Brian Watson, chair of the Youth Committee brought his kids into the convention hall and each one introduced themselves. They gave special gift to President Lynn and then they had a gift for all who donated to the youth group.
CAO Roy Vanoni took over for the Western Foundation explaining all the donations made to the Western Foundation.
Nomination for State Officers, State Arbiters and National Delegates were held and after the election the results were as follows. State Trustee North Bill Murphy and Ray Bini. For State Orator Mark Vaona. The arbiters are Mark Rossi, Andy Pampuro, Roy Vanoni, Rick Branch, and John Bianco. The National Delegates are Bill Murphy, Al Girolami, Arlene Nunziati. Pauline Richmond, Sadie Tamburine and Donna Lee Costa. For First State Vice President Arlene Nunziati, for Second Vice President Sadie Tamburine and for Third State Vice President Barbara Wisniewski. All of the new State Officers have their picture of the front page. Most of them were in by acclamation.
The Royal Court of the Golden Lion held it’s annual luncheon on June 19th. Tribute was paid to those who contribute year after year to the Royal Court. This is Past State President Chris Lotito’s favorite project.
When we returned to the afternoon session the winners of the bocce tournament were announced.
The winners received cash and the first place winners received special medals. Third place winners were John and Donna Lee Costa and Rick and Sharon Silveira, Second place winners were Alec, Anna Marie, John and France Tesoriere and the first place winners were Bill and Lynn Murphy and Rick and Donna Branch.
Jerry Cain, one of the delegates, spoke on Italian heritage and had some very interesting stories to tell.
Our new webmaster or should I say webmistress Anna Graeber spoke on how lodges can get on the website.
Membership chair Joe Simoni announced the lodges who brought in the most members. They were the Saddleback Valley Lodge, the Dolly Sinatra Lodge, the West End Lodge, the Sacramento Lodge and the Christoforo Columbo Lodge. All were given a reward.
State Trustee Central Frank LoCiciero announced the winner of the Janet Cappello Distinguished Member of the Year Award. That honor went to LeRoy and Joanne Beecher from the Roma Lodge.
They were both honored and surprised.
Friday evening was Entertainment Night and entertained we were. We were honored to have Frank DiSalvo from the Dolly Sinatra Lodge sing for us. He put on fabulous show and received about six standing ovations. He even had the dance floor packed all night. Great show, great night.
On Saturday morning donations were made for the various charities we support. I don’t have all the amounts we raised but I do know the Il Leone collected $6500 for the sponsor program.
Our outgoing State President Lynn Lawrence Murphy gave a beautiful outgoing speech prior to the installation of the new State Officers. Our new State President is John Costa. He gave a wonderful acceptance speech.
A mass was held and celebrated by Father Rod Craig from the St. Anthony Retreat at the Three Rivers.
Our last evening at the convention was the Black and White Ball. Our M.C. for the evening was Immediate Past President Maria Pignati. The pledge of allegiance was led by Past State President and National First Vice President Vera Girolami. The invocation was given by State Trustee Pauline Richmond. Our keynote speaker was Edward Fanucchi, Honorary Vice Consul of Italy in Fresno. We also heard s few words from our Grand Lodge Queen Mary Lucido.
It was at this event that Scholarship Chair Rosemarie Vanderhaar awarded special scholarships to five worthy and brilliant students.
The last night of any convention is always a little bittersweet. The next convention will be held in Ontario in 2018 and who knows who won’t be in attendance any more. This year we dearly missed Joe and Mary LaBanca, Aldo and Pam DeRose, Gabe and Mardell Domenici and Frank DeSantis.
We also missed Hugh and Pam Ricci who were absent because their daughter presented them with new granddaughter.
Enjoy the photos. A few of them were taken by Jackie Giacomazzi which we added to mine.