Dave Pentkowski, Bay City native and St. Joseph High graduate, shows off the dining room at BPOElks Lodge 88, fourth floor in the LaPorte Building at 306 Fifth Avenue
Elks Launches Drive: Invites Prospective Members, Guests to Visit Club
Facilities Manager Dave Pentkowski Brings Skills From Airline Career
November 10, 2006
By: Dave Rogers
Dave Pentkowski is used to forging into new fields.
A 1965 graduate of St. Joseph High in Bay City, in 1974 he was among the first male airline hosts in a universe of stewardesses. Then he spent nearly two decades in food service and catering for United Airlines.
Now Pentkowski is using that experience as the new facilities manager of the Bay City Elks Lodge No. 88, 306 Fifth Ave., on the fourth floor of the LaPorte Building, with entrance across the street and just west of The Bay City Times.
Pentkowski says: "We're inviting downtown business people and others to join us for lunch and hopefully consider becoming members."
The club will be open to prospective members and guests for lunch at noon on Thursdays and Fridays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Evening dinners will be strictly for members only from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, he said.
"At lunch we will offer a complete soup and salad bar and selected entrees," said Pentkowski.
The club has long been known for its excellent Friday night fish dinners. "Right now, depending on the response, we may expand the dining to other days and more hours," he added.
Pentkowski described how his career developed. After graduation from St. Joseph High in Bay City, he attended Delta College and then earned a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, in 1970.
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Teaching jobs were scarce and lawsuits charging discrimination against males had opened the door so Pentkowski jumped into the job of host, or flight attendant, at Continental Airlines flying out of Los Angeles in 1975.
Then, after Continental was grounded in 1983 by bankruptcy, he became a supervisor of the United Airlines Flight Kitchen. He remained with United for nearly 20 years, shifting to customer service in 1999 in Detroit and then Tri-City Airport until United Express, a different company, took over from United in 2001. He remained with United until his retirement in 2002.
He moved back to his hometown of Bay City and is heading what the leaders of Bay City's Benevolent Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 88 hope is increased membership and revitalized food service operations.
"My vision is to introduce people to what we're about and to give a nice dining experience," said Pentkowski. "This is a nice intimate environment for business people to bring clients and friends and a very good place for lunch." The dining room seats up to 97 in the beautifully decorated former corporate board room of Mortgage America, Inc..
Pentkowski, 59, is an officer in the 400 member lodge with the title of Esquire. That is an appointed position that could lead to another post such as "Leading Knight" or "Loyal Knight," part of "the chairs," officers whose ritual and other work often leads to the head position, "Exalted Ruler."
Current officers of the Bay City lodge are Peter M. Howey, of Munger, Exalted Ruler; Eric K. Mulholland, Essexville, Leading Knight; Barbara Baase, Loyal Knight; Donald LaPouttre, PER, Lecturing Knight; Joyce Howey, Inner Guard; Philip E. Paulus, Chaplain; LaVona Styn, Tiler.
The Board of Trustees is headed by James Whaley, and members are Richard Milster, James Hollerbach, PER; Jean Ann Styn-Deshano, PER; Jack McDaniel, PER, lodge trustee; John Van Laan, PER, treasurer; Thomas W. Miller, PDDGER, (past district deputy grand exalted ruler) of Frankenmuth, secretary; and T. Jeff Johnson, PDDGER, of Mayville, veterans service coordinator.
The Elks is active in youth programs, drug awareness and veterans service. The local lodge also is a sponsor of Toys for Tots and is involved in downtown civic and business activities.
The fraternal organization known as "the Elks" began in 1868 and has several thousand lodges strictly within the United States. The Bay City lodge was founded early, about 10 years after the national started, indicated by the number of the lodge, 88, the 88th such local unit in the organization.
The Elks was founded in New York City in 1868, as an outgrowth of an earlier group called the "Jolly Corks," under impetus of Charles A. Vivian, an English comic singer.
The Elks contribute more to charity annually than any other organization in the USA. The Bay City Elks members share was over $90,000 of the $225 million total last year raised for Charity for Katrina, Veterans, Hospitals, Special Needs and Scholarships. The Elks are over 1 million members strong nationally.
The Bay City lodge now has about 400 members, down from an average of about 1,000 and a high of 2,300 two decades ago. At one time in the 1880s the lodge initiated 500 members at the same time, according to Pete Howey, Exalted Ruler.
The local lodge has members who have risen high in the Michigan Elks Association; Howard Diehl, PER, was recently installed as state vice president; Eric Mulholland, Sr., is state treasurer and former state president.
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