2006 - 2017 I.O.O.F. Educational Pilgrimage for Youth

Independent Order of Odd Fellows

Educational Pilgrimage for Youth

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California 50th Anniversary Reunion 2009
Ca Reunion Photo
Bottom Right to Mid Left to Top Right: Kay Barnes, Marilyn Loss, Diane Kennedy, Mary Forth, Tom Fernandez, Don Smith, Pat Player, Susan Ormsbee, Carlos Ynostroza, Roger Holdstock and John Weinstein

Golden 50-YEAR Reunion – June 27, 2009

Twenty-three people joined together on Saturday, 27 June 2009, to celebrate the Golden 50-Year Reunion of the 1959 Pilgrimage Group from CA, NV and UT (Tour Group 5).   The celebrants included 12 PilgrimsA, 2 LeadersB from the Pilgrimage Staff in New York City, 1 LeaderC of the current California Pilgrimage Delegation, and 8 family members; all are listed below:

Anna BethA (Nygaard) Alexander, Kay* (Pudge) Barnes, Ann* (Creighton) & Tom Bateman, Tom* & Lee Fernandez, Mary* (Johnson) & Don Forth, Roger* & Ildi Holdstock, Diane* (Judge) & Bruce Kennedy, Roy KingC, Marilyn* (Moore) Loss, Susan* (Ormsbee) & Michael Murphy, PatB (Barnard) Player, Kareen* (Hanson) Sheffield, DonB & Darlene Smith, John* Weinstein, Carlos* & son, Juan Carlos Ynostroza.

Some travelled long distances to attend:  Anna Beth Alexander drove from Broomfield CO; Roger & Ildi Holdstock drove from Vancouver BC; Ann & Tom Bateman drove from Philomath OR, Roy King flew from Los Angeles; Marilyn Loss flew from Great Bend KS; and John Weinstein flew from Houston TX.

This Golden Reunion was held at Tom & Lee Fernandez’s home in Redwood City, CA as a casual Open House from noon until 10 pm.  Their home is located along the Redwood Shores Lagoon on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula.  Co-Hosts were Lee & Tom Fernandez and Kay Barnes.  Marilyn Loss assisted with hosting on this day.  Appetizers and drinks were served in the afternoon, followed by a buffet dinner in the early evening.

Kay Barnes greeted celebrants upon arrival with their name tags which helped immensely.  Most of the day was spent getting acquainted and reacquainted, catching up on the past 25 to 50 years; and sharing memories and memorabilia (pictures, scrapbooks) from the Pilgrimage.  People shared thoughts about their life experiences, and stories about their families, careers, travels and special interests.  Four draft copies of this 50-Year Reunion book were available for those present to review the biographies and pictures of other Pilgrims, especially those not able to attend.  Roger Holdstock brought his guitar to lead and inspire great singing (as on the Pilgrimage), but we never got around to that part of the event.  This suggests we need another reunion in the not too distant future.

During the visitations, people took time to remember and honor our three Pilgrims and four Leaders who have passed away:  Pilgrims Judy Toyias Anthony, Gayle Kubler Code, Aleene Mamath Yacoub; and Leaders Carl Reitz, Geneva Lewis, and Vivian & Jerry Kara.  Surely their spirits were powerfully present as we recalled fond memories of each of them.

The evening activities shifted to an informal program.  Tom & Ann Bateman presented a slide show of Ann’s pictures from the 1959 Pilgrimage.  This inspired lots of discussion as we recalled the people, places, times and ambience captured in those pictures from 50 years ago.

Don Smith, Assistant Director of the 1959 Pilgrimage For Youth, described his experiences as a very active Odd Fellow for over 60 years and a view of the Pilgrimage from the very busy NYC Headquarters staff during the 7 weeks of that summer.  Pat Player, also on the Pilgrimage NYC staff, agreed with Don’s remarks and added how the NYC staff worked very long hours 6.5 days per week for 7 weeks as about 120 new Pilgrims arrived each week for their one week tour.

Roy King, also a life-long active Odd Fellow, shared his experiences during the 1970s as a Pilgrimage Tour Leader and during the past 5 years as Co-Chair of the California Pilgrimage Delegation.  Today, many of the same places are visited in New York City and Washington DC, but (1) the Pilgrimage is no longer competitive, (2) delegates pay their own expenses, (3) cross-country travel is now by airplane, not train nor bus, and (4) the length of the Pilgrimage has been shortened from 3.5 to 2.5 weeks.  Roy made a sincere request for all willing Pilgrims to share their memorabilia and pictures with him as he continues to build an archive for the Pilgrimage For Youth.  He will safely handle, copy and return all material shared.

John Weinstein initiated a thoughtful discussion asking Pilgrims how they believe the Pilgrimage impacted their lives and careers.  He shared some personal experiences, including studying with Henry Kissinger at Harvard and his keen interest in international issues as a result of the Pilgrimage.  Others shared their thoughts as well; common themes were how the Pilgrimage opened their minds to a much broader world full of opportunities, and instilled self-confidence in them especially from the speaking. 

Tom Fernandez thanked Tom and Ann Bateman for the Pilgrimage Slide Show; Don, Pat and Roy for their interesting Pilgrimage remarks; and all who attended, especially those who traveled long distances from outside CA.  He thanked all who have contributed biographies and memorabilia for the 1959 Pilgrimage Golden Reunion Memory Book.  He asked all Pilgrims to remember with gratitude and thanks all of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs who helped make our Pilgrimage trip possible.  This includes those lodges that organized contests and sponsored delegates, the Pilgrimage staff, and those lodges that provided hospitality along our journey.

Kay Barnes then challenged the group to try answering Ten Trivia Questions about the 1959 Pilgrimage For Youth, which are listed below.  All answers are in this 50 Year Reunion Memory Book, especially Gayle Kubler’s Daily Journal.  For help, contact another Pilgrim listed in the Directory at the front of this book.

  1. Who sponsored(s) the Pilgrimage for Youth?  For how many years as of 2009?
  2. What were the names of our 3 Tour 5 Leaders / Chaperones?
  3. What were the names of the 3 adults from California that were on the NYC staff of the Pilgrimage for Youth?
  4. How many 1959 Pilgrims were on Tour 5?  How many women?  How many men?
  5. What day did we leave on our Pilgrimage?  What was our return date?
  6. What was the name and nickname of our Tour 5 Greyhound bus driver?
  7. Where did we eat breakfast everyday in New York?
  8. What musical did you see in New York?
  9. Which two Pilgrims won the “best speech” contest in New York City?
  10. Who did not ride the train home with us from Chicago?  Who departed in Cheyenne WY?


The Pilgrims, Leaders and Guests shared fond good-byes until the next gathering.  Kay Barnes offered each a gift packet of cards and envelopes she made especially for this occasion.

Dear Pilgrims, Leaders, and Pilgrim’s Family & Friends,                                                           July 26, 2009

Enclosed please find your copy of the 50-Year Golden Reunion Memory Book for the 1959 Pilgrimage For Youth.

First, this book has a Directory for the Pilgrims & Leaders associated with the 1959 UN Pilgrimage For Youth.  We encourage you to use this to keep in touch, especially if you travel into another Pilgrim’s area, or are thinking about organizing a reunion.  Ann & Tom Bateman have raised the possibility of having a reunion in their area of Oregon.

Second, this book has biographical sketches for 36 of the 42 people involved with our memorable journey.  These biographies include 30 of the 36 Pilgrims, and all 6 Leaders (Tour Leader, 2 Chaperones, and 3 Pilgrimage staff at NYC HQ).  The individual sketches tell compelling stories about people engaged in the mainstream of life:  their families, careers, vocations, avocations, special interests; and their leadership and followership skills.  Standing back and taken as a whole, these stories reveal a rather amazing group who bonded quickly, matured , gained self-confidence, and went on to inspiring lives and accomplishments

Third, this book contains memorabilia from our Pilgrimage that we hope will help bring back and recapture fond memories.  These include the initial delegate correspondence, Pilgrimage itineraries, pictures along the way, and a reprint of Gayle Kubler Code’s Daily Journal that she recorded during the Pilgrimage.

Fourth, this book has short descriptions and, in some cases, pictures from Pilgrimage Reunions for the following:  6-month December 1959, 10-Year 1969, 25-Year 1984, 35-Year 1994, and the most recent 50-Year Golden Reunion on 27 June 2009.  The last write-up also has a Pilgrimage Trivia Questionnaire to pique and challenge one’s memory.

This celebration of our 50-Year Golden Reunion of the 1959 Pilgrimage For Youth began in early January 2009 in a very brief discussion we (Kay & Tom) had:  Tom asked Kay “What do you think about having a 50 Year Reunion?”; Kay replied “Let’s try to find some Pilgrims and see what they think.”  Pilgrims responses were generally very supportive.  Through sheer determination coupled with patience, persistence, several internet search engines, help from fellow Pilgrims, and many phone calls, we have been able to locate 41 of the 42 people associated with our trip.  The only remaining person not located is Kay Disbrow (from Vallejo in 1959).  The longest communication gap for us is the 50 year lapse since we last spoke with Cheryll Lynn May.  The most recent Pilgrim discovery is Susan Ormsbee Murphy, who we found just 20 miles from Tom’s home.  Kay found the correct phone number and talked with Susan on Friday, 26 June 2009, the day before our Reunion.  That same day Susan wrote and sent her biography and picture so that it could be included in the draft 50-Year Reunion Book.  The next day, Susan & Michael Murphy were at the Reunion.  The saddest note is that Judy Toyias Anthony passed away suddenly in April 2009.  Kay, Tom, Lynn Hull and perhaps others had some long chats catching up with her in February and March 2009.  She had planned on attending the reunion.

Some Pilgrims have asked about making a donation to help cover the cost of this 50-Year Golden Reunion Memory Book.  A voluntary donation of $25 would help cover the publication and mailing costs.  This can be sent to either Kay Barnes or Tom Fernandez.

We sincerely thank everyone who helped make the 50-Year Reunion and this Memory Book possible.  This especially includes all of the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs in CA, NV and UT as well those in other states that helped organize the 1959 Pilgrimage For Youth and/or provided hospitality along the way.

In Friendship, Love and Truth,

Tom Fernandez

Kay Barnes