Orville “Orv” Helland sits outside of the Moose Lodge in the center of Proctor on the bench known as “Orville’s office.”
The lodge is for members only, so Helland types in his code in the entryway and begins the tour while explaining the rich history of the Moose Lodge. Every picture has a meaning and every plaque has a story. Helland knows them all.
Helland currently serves as the past governor for the Moose Lodge. He explains that it dubs him an “officer of wisdom.” He uses his past experience as a governor to help the new ones take over. His knowledge is not limited to his time as the governor; Helland has been with the Moose Lodge since 1975 when he first joined as a social member.
When Helland retired from his long time service to the railway in 1998, he ran for office at the Moose where he was voted a Chaplain. Two years later he was voted into his position as governor. After his two years were up in that position he was asked to be an administrator at the Superior Moose Lodge.
He was later appointed to the honorable position as Deputy Regional Manager. This position allowed him to travel all over and help Moose Lodges in all different areas. Helland explained that his main duty was to, “put out small fires here and there.”
Within the Moose Lodge, a member can also seek different degrees of education along with seeking appointment. Helland was given the Pilgrim degree, the highest level degree, in 2008. A lot of work goes into earning that degree. Helland explained that he spent countless hours volunteering, holding office, working with the community, and organizing events to donate to the school and community.
“The Moose donates money to all different organizations,” Helland said, “I am just still waiting for them to donate to Orville’s retirement fund.”
When Helland talks about the future of the Moose Lodge, it is easy to sense some concern. He explains that in Minnesota there used to be 40 lodges; they are now down to 19.
“Younger people just aren’t joining things and the older folk, myself included, we’re dying off,” Helland said.
While Proctor remains the biggest lodge in the state with 800 members, it is still easy to worry about the future of it.
The well being of the Proctor Moose Lodge relies heavily of the council members and the events they plan to keep up the attendance.
“I came up with the idea of having Wings & Things on Wednesday nights.” Helland explains that they cook up chicken wings and whatever else they can find in the freezer to cook up.
The activities organized by Helland and the council members don’t stop at the weekly meals. They also host events such as Wii Bowling tournaments, live music, and Cribbage tournaments. Helland explains that the Moose offers a safe environment for everyone to come and enjoy themselves.
“If you curse in the building, you are asked to leave,” he said.
Every person coming in for their after work beverage was greeted by Helland personally. Dorie Halla, a longtime member of the Moose Lodge and past bartender, is one of his many friends who walked through the door.
“I have had the pleasure of working with Orv for over 20 years. He has spent his retirement volunteering his time and talents to the community,” Halla said. “We are very fortunate.”
As 6:30 p.m. rolls around, Helland finishes the Sprite that he is nursing and looks towards the men that are gathering for the Monday night meeting. He is anxious to get together with his fellow council members to discuss the upcoming planning for Easter celebrations. Dan Johnson Jr., the current governor, makes a beeline for Helland and pats him on the back, a sign they are ready to begin, and they cannot begin without their “officer of wisdom.”