North Texas Daily

Day in the Life: I.O.O.F.

Day in the Life: I.O.O.F.

August 15
10:22 2013

By Cole Clay/Intern

John Linden opens the door of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows lodge with a warm smile on his face and a welcoming handshake. The lodge is covered with photos and accolades that paint a picture of the long-standing history it has here in the community.

Linden is the Grand Warden for the I.O.O.F. chapter in Denton. Linden became a third generation Odd Fellow when he was initiated in 1991, but his family’s lineage with the order dates back to 1917 when his grandfather was initiated.

“It’s the tradition that keeps me coming back,” Linden said. “That tie is very important to carrying on the name and legacy.”

The Odd Fellows date back to 17th century England, but didn’t make its mark in North Texas until the Denton Lodge was started circa 1859. The 100 members of the Denton Lodge all share a strong bond – Linden describes the members as “a big family.”

“We may have a disagreement from time to time like any other group, but if I need someone I know who to call for help,” Linden said.

When Linden became Grand Warden in March, he inherited a great deal of honor and responsibility that put him on the I.O.O.F Board Of Trustees. He is also accountable for handling the chapter’s finances, public relations and even cuts the grass.

“It’s a lot of work but this is a great time for me,” Linden said. “You have to treat it as a big corporation with employees and all the things that come along with that.”

There are three words that every Odd Fellow lives by Friendship, Love and Truth. These ideals represent links in a chain that unites every member across the globe. These small, but powerful words set up the lifestyle the Odd Fellows lead.

“If you break a link of the chain you become weak,” Linden said. “If I didn’t have these words then I am not sure what I’d stand for.”

Odd Fellows are taught to practice selflessness day in and day out, from close friends to complete strangers. Linden refers right back to The Triple Links that ring so true in his day-to-day lifestyle.

“It’s all about how you treat people, you got to have friends and family to know and feel love, and well truth, that’s the easy part,” he said. “I live my life by these ideals just like its any normal ol’ day.”

I.O.O.F. has always had a great report with the community that goes back as far as starting Denton’s first public school system.

“I have witnessed on multiple occasions members of the Odd Fellows kickstarting projects around town,” Dentonite Sean Carter said.

The order funds retirement centers in Corsicana and Dallas as well as the I.O.O.F. Nursing Home in Ennis, Texas. In addition, they fund organized youth sports teams as well as a program called Shop with a Cop that donates Christmas gifts to underprivileged children.

“I can really see the impact they make on the community,” UNT Spanish student Ryan Sabine said.

Even though I.O.O.F. has sustained prominence in the community for the past 160 years, the organization still has setbacks from time to time. In recent years membership has slightly decreased nationwide.

“We have the second most members nationwide right behind California,” Linden said. “That really speaks to the brotherhood we have here in Texas.”

Membership to the Odd Fellows is open to anybody who is interested in joining. There is a process that any potential new member must go through to join the order.

“We give ourselves to help people who are unable to help themselves,” Linden said. “That is the reason why we are here.”

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