HERMISTON - Behind every successful man there is a good woman, according to Jim Kraack of the Hermiston Elks Lodge 1845, and for more than 32 years he had one of the best backing him.
Jan Kraack, Jim's wife, was installed as the first woman Exalted Ruler of the Hermiston Elks Club last week. Jim had the honor as the first past exalted ruler to install his wife, with the help of past exalted ruler, Curt Hinkle.
Jim is proud of his wife and supports women in the organization.
"It's a great idea. A lot of women in our organization weren't allowed to join, but they backed up their husbands and did everything the husband did," Jim said. "The ladies did a lot of the planning. Now they are members and officers. Now I am the support and spouse of this exalted ruler."
"I was doing things for the lodge anyway with Jim," Jan said. "Backing him up. We get involved in everything."
Jan joined one week and the others joined the next week.
"I don't know exactly how many women now, but it is getting there," she said.
Women weren't allowed to join the Elks organization until about five years ago. Jan is the first female exalted ruler in this lodge, she said, but there have been others throughout Oregon.
Jan has always been impressed by the Elks and the charities and programs it supports.
"One thing that impressed me was the patriotism," Jan said. "That means a lot to me. I think too often people forget the people who fought and died for us to have our freedom."
She didn't waste time coming through the rank of offices. She started going to meetings right away and running for office.
"I was nominated for loyal knight," Jan said. "I took a very active part in the club."
The loyal knight attends meetings, supports the exalted ruler and other officers and helps with programs and charities, Jan said.
Next, she was elected as leading knight, performing the same duties of vice-president or president-elect. Supporting the exalted ruler and taking over meetings when he was not available became Jan's job. After her term as leading knight ended, she was nominated as exalted ruler.
"No one was fool enough to run against me," she said.