The XXIX Western Fraternal Life National Convention was held July 18-19, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency in Green Bay, WI. Wisconsin lodges were jointly involved in coordinating and supporting the Convention. To coincide with the Convention, the second annual Youth Conference was held, now known by the name, Young Member Summit (YMS). These youth also participated in the main Convention and some of the social experiences. This was also the second time Convention held a fraternal service project. Members helped package 45,360 dry meals for children who are in desperate need of a nutritious meal. Both the Young Member Summit and the fraternal service project will be featured in the September 2019 issue of the Fraternal Herald.
The Pre-Convention Committee met July 18, prior to the start of the Convention, to review proposed bylaw changes. The committee consisted of the following members followed by their District No.: Chairperson Kenneth Zajicek (3), Vice Chairperson Virginia Wilts (3), Secretary Lawrence Kotval (4), Darrell Kotas (1), Gilberta Racek (1), Kathryn Janette (2), Jo Ann Parks (2), Galen Spinler (4), Robert Ladiski (5), Karen Ryba (6), Karen Rasmussen (6), Katrina Evans (7), and Othelia Vacura (7).
The WI Convention Committee put on yellow Western shirts and greeted members as they arrived. They were present to assist members with their bags and room assignments as needed.
The Credentials Committee consisting of Richard Hosek, No. 426; Pamela Thompson, No. 144; Mike Papich, No. 262; Doug Ryant, No. 168; and Edward F. Fornusek, No. 225 checked in delegates at the Hyatt starting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 17. A ceramic beer stein was given as a gift to all who registered, along with a briefcase filled with the program and other items.
In the evening, a "get acquainted party" was held in the ballroom room with tailgate themed snacks. This year, before the entertainment, members had an open forum to discuss bylaw changes without the restriction of Roberts Rules of Order. After much discussion, the Czech Choraliers entertained guests as they socialized.
The Convention was called to order by President Craig Van Dyke on July 18 at 8:30 a.m.
The presentation of the United States flag was given by Izak Jirik.
The Pledge of Allegiance and the U.S. National Anthem was led by Celia Kolarik, No. 108, WI and Allison Kornelly.
The Czech and Slovak National Anthems were led by Robert Ladiski, No. 225, MI.
State Religious Officer Specialist with the MN National Guard, Izak Jirik, No. 2, MN led the invocation.
Mayor Eric Genrich welcomed members to Green Bay, WI, and encouraged them to visit all the great places in Green Bay.
District 2 Director Brenda Vrieze, No. 32, WI welcomed members to Green Bay.
Young Member Summit attendees were flag bearers representing the states where we have lodges. Those members, states, and nations whose flags they carried are as followed: Christa Fornusek, Czech flag; Rachel Fornusek, Slovak flag; Gwynn Ketola, CA flag; Stacie Bush, CO flag; Sarah Marmolejo, IA flag; Isabella Marmolejo, ID flag; Gary Andrews, IL flag; Haily Wade, KS flag; Christy Sopocy, LA flag; Alexandrea Ladiski, MI flag; Alyse Ladiski, MN flag; Jaxon Ladiski, MT flag; Chelsea Backous, ND flag; Valerie Hosek, NE flag; Isaac Bradley-Williams, OH flag; Madalyn Horak, OK flag; Chase Unruh, OR flag; Naomi Vacura, PA flag; Jonathan Fiala, SD flag; Tre Vozenilek, TX flag; Emily Sopocy, WA flag; and Mary Sopocy, WI flag.
Jo Ann Parks, No. 141, WI presented a memorial tribute to those who had passed since the last Convention. She recited a poem by Ellen Brenneman titled, My Journey’s Just Begun, while directors from all districts lit candles. Members were instructed to turn in their program booklets to the deceased members and pause for a moment of silence.
Credentials Committee Chairman Ed F. Fornusek, No. 225, MI reported that there were 179 delegates.
Tom Bradley, No. 225, MI read the official Roll Call of Delegates.
Ed Ullerich, No. 196, WI was elected Convention President. Todd Martin was appointed Parliamentarian.
Elected Vice Presidents were Joan Sedlacek No. 10, MN; Amy Fornusek No. 225, MI; Elaine Benda No. 67, OK; and Alois Ruman No. 71, SD.
President Craig Van Dyke presented his report to the Convention.
Pre-Convention Committee Chairman Ken Zajicek, No. 85, IA; Othelia Vacura, No. 153, KS; Galen Spinler, No. 127, MN; Jo Ann Parks, No. 141, WI; and Karen Rasmussen, No. 222, OR presented the bylaw changes and each were voted on separately.
Delegates met in their caucus meetings after lunch.
The Resolution and Grievance Committee members met after the caucuses.
Thursday evening entertainment after dinner and cocktails was from the Oneida Smoke Dancers.
President Craig Van Dyke announced that Gladys Ruha, No. 144, WI was named Fraternalist of the Year (full write-up in October Fraternal Herald). President Van Dyke presented her with an engraved clock and read some of her many accomplishments.
The Convention reconvened at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Madalyn Horak, Stacie Bush, Sarah Marmolejo, Christa Fornusek, Lexie Ladiski, Rachel Fornusek, Izzy Marmolejo, and Christy Sopocy were spokespersons from the Young Members Summit who reported to the Convention. They presented ideas to get more youth and young adults involved in lodges, and the role social media could have in the future. (See pages 15-17 for a special article on the Youth Conference.)
Donald Nieland then presented the caucus results for the new Board of Directors: District 1 Mike Hosek, District 2 Brenda Vrieze, District 3 Donald Krall, District 4 Duane Jirik, District 5 Mary Bradley, District 6 Karen Ryba, and District 7 Ross Sestak. Former President Howard J. Wolfe installed the new board, effective September 1, 2019.
The 2023 Pre-Convention Committee members District 1, Darrell Kotas and Jeffrey Rech; District 2, Jo Ann Parks and Katie Jeanette; District 3, Kenneth Zajicek and Virginia Wilts; District 4, Galen Spinler and Joan Sedlacek; District 5, Edward J. Fornusek and Amy Fornusek; District 6, Karen Rasmussen and Pam Ryba-Varnson; District 7, Katrina Evans and Jacob Sestak. To send in proposed bylaw changes or additions, contact your Pre-Convention representative before the next Convention (see this link).
Ellie Haeska, No. 38, MN gave the report from the Resolutions Committee.
Jacob Sestak, No. 46, OK followed with a report of the Grievance Committee.
IA Director Donald Krall made a motion to host the 2023 National Convention in Iowa. A unanimous vote was cast.
Craig Van Dyke was nominated President. A vote was cast and Craig Van Dyke was elected president.
President and CEO of the American Fraternal Alliance, Joseph Annotti, was a guest speaker at the Convention on Friday and spoke on The Future of Fraternals.
A breakout session on Best Practices was held after the Convention adjourned.
Following the Convention, members proceeded to the fraternal service project. A rotation schedule was set up between the districts so some individuals participated in packing food while others ate lunch. Members packaged 46,360 dry meals for the Kids Against Hunger project. See this link for a complete story.
The banquet social hour began at 6 p.m. Darcy Hilton, No. 7, gave the invocation at dinner.
Many members danced the night away to the evening entertainment of Gary’s Ridgeland Dutchmen.
At the banquet, President Craig Van Dyke and Foundation Trustee Larry Kotval agreed to shave their heads in front of the crowd if we raised enough money for the Education and Charitable Foundation at the Convention through ticket sales. The effort was successful.
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