Tucked away in a safe place is Michael Merlo's grandfather's Eagle dues receipt that dates back to 1907 from Eagle Aerie no. 442 in Santa Barbara, Calif. Michael keeps the tattered memento with him to remind him of his ties with the fraternal organization.
He was one of five area residents that were installed to state positions April 28 in Anchorage.
Michael Merlo was installed as the state president for the Eagles Aerie No. 3525. He will serve as the ambassador for the Eagles. His wife, Darlene, was installed as the state Auxiliary president as well as the local president. They have both been involved with the organization since joining in 1983. They said they joined because they liked what the organization did within the community.
The Merlos state charity for their term is the Art Ehrmann Cancer Fund, in dedication to the passing of Eagle member Jody Markiewicz from Ketchikan.
The organization started in 1893 and has Aeries in more than 1,700 cities across the U.S. Eagles take pride in helping people and raise money for various charitable organizations. Issues dealing with home, family and community are valued by the Eagles, who also deem themselves hometown builders.
Of the more than 1,700 Aeries nationwide, Alaska is home to nine of them. Michael is the third state president from Kenai, while Darlene is the second president from Kenai to represent the state. They are the first husband-and-wife team from Kenai.
Each state president names a state father and Auxiliary presidents name a state mother. Both positions are honorary.
Michael named Glenn Schrader as the Alaska State Father. Schrader has been a part of the Eagles for more than 20 years. He has been local and state auditor for the organization and is active with the Disabled American Veterans.
He said it was "very emotional" when he was named.
"It came as a complete surprise," he said.
Ruth Fitzpatrick has been a member of Auxiliary since 1989. Darlene named her as Alaska State Mother because she said Fitzpatrick is someone who has been a monitor to her since she became a member.
Fitzpatrick has been a local and state auditor for the Eagles.
She said she was honored to be named to the position.
Donna Flug, the past local president, was named to the position of state Auxiliary chaplin.
Present at the Aerie installation was Grand Worthy President W.P. "Pete" Harty, of Las Cruces, N. M. Present at the Auxiliary installation was Grand Madam Vice President Carleen Corum, of Iowa.
The Eagles Aerie was started in Kenai in 1973 by Harry Barnes. His wife, Nadine, started the Auxiliary in Kenai the same year.
To become a member of the organization, a new member must be sponsored by an Eagle. Members also must be 21 or older.
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