On Centre | Around Bellefonte: Bellefonte native takes reins at Arizona Elks lodge

When Dan Rhoads was appointed to lead an Arizona Elks lodge into the future, he received a bit of his past.

In April, Rhoads was named the grand exalted ruler of the Casas Elks Lodge No. 2663 in Tucson. In attendance was Scott King, an old friend from Bellefonte who made the long trip at Rhoads’ request.

King brought a few mementos cross-country as gifts. A past exalted ruler of the Bellefonte Elks Lodge, he presented a lodge officers photo from 1978, when Rhoads served as an inner guard after joining that year.

Rhoads also accepted a few other tokens, including the princely sum of $1, settling a 38-year-old bet.

“It was pretty special,” Rhoads said about King’s visit. “I appreciated it.”

Rhoads, 57, grew up in Bellefonte, moving to Arizona in 1984. He works as a dispatcher for the Oro Valley Police Department in a Tucson suburb.

In the Bellefonte Elks Lodge, he held every officer position except exalted ruler, the equivalent of president. Thirty-seven years after joining the Elks organization, he finally reached the top.

“I was pretty excited about it,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

Following Elks protocol, he’ll serve a year in his new post. Among his goals, he said, he’ll continue the lodge’s scholarship and other charitable programs. One of its main annual efforts benefits the Steele Children’s Research Center, a children’s hospital in Tucson.

Rhoads’ lodge also supports a school supplies program, a “pencil project,” that he started to help an elementary school in his area.

“I’m just trying to maintain the status quo, keep the lodge above water,” he said.

During the year, he’ll have a picture of his much younger self, a reminder of how far he has come as an Elks member — and his hometown forever back east.

“I have a lot of good memories of Bellefonte,” he said. “I still come back to visit.”