An organization that has performed outstanding community service for almost six decades – and raised big bucks in the process for a myriad of causes and organizations – has called it a day.
The Osoyoos branch of the Canadian Royal Purple Society officially disbanded – effective May 1 – after 58 years of outstanding community service.
“We had been thinking about this for about a year and decided just in the last few weeks that May 1 would be the end,” said charter member Anne Stapler, who has been a proud member of the Osoyoos Royal Purple Lodge 240 since its inception back in 1959.
“The reality is all of our members are getting older and most of us are tired. We’ve done a lot of good work in the community and we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we just don’t have any new members coming on board and the time has come to call it a day. We only have 10 members and none of us are getting any younger.”
As was a growing trend across the country, the wives of members of the Elks Lodge wanted to do their part to conduct community service, so they formed separate organizations under the Royal Purple banner, said Stapler.
“The Elks Lodge was formed in Osoyoos back in 1958 and we wanted to be with our brother Elks, so the wives of Elks members formed our own group,” she said.
The Osoyoos Lodge 240 of the Royal Purple was instituted on Dec. 6, 1959 with Past Supreme Honoured Royal Lady Beatrice Collen presiding over the ceremony, said Stapler.
She was assisted by District Deputy Honoured Royal Lady Jean Innes of Keremeos and the Drill Team from the Oliver Royal Purple Lodge 63.
Hazel Shippit was installed as the inaugural Honoured Royal Lady of Osoyoos Lodge 240.
Within weeks of formation, the Royal Purple assisted the Elks Lodge in staging the Osoyoos Cherry Festival Carnival in July. They were in charge of the Cherry Queen contest, Queen’s Float in the parade and Queen’s banquet.
“The lodge provided the Queen’s crown and cape, which was later handed over to the Cherry Carnival committee,” said Stapler.
Royal Purple members soon became involved in various charitable organizations in and around Osoyoos, such as the March of Dimes, student bursaries, student loan fun, St. Martin’s Hospital in Oliver (now South Okanagan General Hospital), cancer fundraisers, fundraisers for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and much more, she said.
Since 1968, the Osoyoos Royal Purple has sponsored its annual Strawberry Tea in June and there have been too many fundraising bazaars, teas and fashion shows to mention.
They have also sponsored the weekly fundraising bingo at the Elks Lodge for many years, raised money for the Osoyoos Safe House for Women and hosted participants in the Cops for Kids fundraising effort for many years.
Bonnie Stevens, who has been a member for over 20 years, said many of the fundraising efforts by the Royal Purple have benefitted children in this community.
“We try and help the entire community, but we’ve always paid special attention to children,” she said. “The majority of things we have done every year are to help children and we’re very proud of that.”
New member Diane Andrews said she’s astounded at the commitment and dedication of Royal Purple members.
“These ladies have not received the credit they deserve,” she said. “They are a very small group of elderly women, but they have done so much wonderful work for this community.
“It’s very sad that they have to disband, but I sure hope the residents of this town appreciate everything they’ve done over all these years.”
Stapler is so committed to the Royal Purple, she and her daughter Kathy Costa are going to join the Oliver Royal Purple moving forward.
“I’ve been the Honoured Royal Lady here in Osoyoos for six years and I’m not ready to retire yet,” she said smiling. “My daughter and I are going to travel to Oliver and help out there.”
Rose-Anne Sole, who has been the secretary of the club for the past 16 years and was a proud member of the Royal Purple for just over 20 years, said she’s proud of the wonderful work the organization has performed over almost 60 years.
“It has been the best job in the world,” she said. “We’ve become like a small family and it has been very gratifying being part of this club.”
Other long-time club members include Theresa Reiter, Addy Donnelly, Maggie Hogg, Margaret Jensen, Nida Zandvliet, Gladys Whiteside, Margaret Eek and Iris Tweedy.
Stapler said being a proud member of the Royal Purple is something she will never forget.
“I’ve met most of my best friends through this organization,” she said. “Our only goal was to make a difference and we have made a difference. It has been an honour to have been a part of it.”
By Keith Lacey