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Eagles president stepping down

by Garrett Fuller | May 24, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Democrat photo/Garrett Fuller — Outgoing California Fraternal Order of Eagles President Steve Liebi poses Thursday with newspaper clippings, photos, plaques and other mementos in the Eagles' building to commemorate their events that have supported the community.

The president of a California nonprofit is stepping down to make way for a new leader.

Steve Liebi, president of the California Fraternal Order of Eagles, is stepping down in June after three years in the role. Citing health issues and decreasing energy, he decided it was time to let "a young man take over" control of the organization that has served the community through fundraisers and events since 1982. Jim Hudson, a longtime member of the organization, will be its next president.

Liebi said he made the decision after Hudson expressed his interest in leading the organization earlier this year.

"(I) Wouldn't even consider running against him," he said. "He's very capable. ... I think he'll do a tremendous job of leading this club."

Liebi said he played an instrumental role in helping the organization rebuild after a June 2018 fire destroyed its original facility. Liebi, along with fellow Eagles members Jay Rush, Greg Buschjost and Stuart Inglish, worked with local contractors to complete a new facility by February 2020 while coming in under budget.

Part of the reason the project came in under budget, Liebi said, was because it was a labor of love for many of the Eagles' members. He said he and other members did a lot of the work.

"I was retired, and so I spent about a year and a half of my life down here every day, (doing everything from) scrubbing concrete floors after we got them put in, staining wood and everything that needed to be done, getting materials here for volunteers to work after normal working hours," he said. "It's just been amazing to me the number of people that have volunteered all the hours."

However, Liebi said, it wasn't until after rebuilding the aerie -- which opened for Super Bowl LIV on Feb. 2, 2020 -- that a grand aerie representative named him to lead the nonprofit forward. He added members of the organization voted to keep him as its president.

Since reopening, the organization has given more than $330,000 back to the community. Fundraisers helped the organization support various causes, from assisting the family of a cancer patient to weekly dinners that allowed it to present $14,000 in scholarships to graduating high school students. The Eagles have also raised funds for archery, wrestling and girls soccer programs in the California R-I School District. Recently, Liebi said, the aerie also wrote a $5,000 check to assist a single mother that lost her home and vehicle in a fire.

"Being able to see the expression on people's faces when you're willing to help them out that much, what it does for your heart makes it worth all the effort," he said.

Liebi credited the community with enabling the Eagles' success.

"I just looked the other day and it's been amazing to me (that) all the people in this community is what's put this whole thing together," he said. "It's not just us, the community has allowed us to do this. And when you start doing these benefits and the people that go out, spend their time trying to get things for auction, the auctioneers that have volunteered all their time. The businesses in this community that have donated items of their business, parts of their livelihood, to help us. And because of this community working together the way it has, we have been able to do fundraisers, benefits, national charities and bring back to this community over $332,000."

Trustees have also played an instrumental role in helping the organization serve the community, Liebi said, with many volunteering to make the group's events successful.

"One person after another has stepped up to do their portion," he said. "When everybody does their little portion that they do, it turns into a big thing. And that's what makes this work and be such a good thing for the community."

Liebi said Hudson will be installed to lead the group into the future at its June meeting, when new officers are installed.

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