Bob Jump was newly returned from serving in the Navy during World War II when he got into a relationship that's lasted decades.
"Anybody coming out of World War II, it only cost $10" to join the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, he said.
Jump joined the Santa Ana lodge in 1947 when he was 20 years old and has remained a member for 66 years.
Friday night, the Hesperia lodge honored him with "Bob Jump Night," a combination of birthday party and "This is Your Life"-style retrospective, ending with repeated standing ovations for Jump, who's still active in the lodge at 86 years old.
"We all love ya," said Esteemed Leading Knight Mark Cullen.
"It's people like Bob — he keeps this lodge going," said Bob Hanevik, the lodge's original Esteemed Leading Knight.
Jump was visibly touched by the ceremony and applause of roughly 200 guests.
"We have a lot of good Elks that have been here a long time and I'd like to see this kind of program for them," Jump said.
The lodge presented him with an Elks watch and a proclamation signed by Thomas S. Brazier, the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Benevolent and Protector Order of Elks — the national leader of the Elks organization.
Contacts made through the organization helped Jump in his business over the years, he said.
"I've met a lot of people, lots of friends," Jump said. "Being in the moving and storage business, those friends got me a lot of business."
But when he retired and moved to Hesperia in 1987, Jump stayed an active Elk.
"He's been active the 16 years I've known him and he hasn't slowed down yet," Cullen said.
"He's a beautiful person," said Esteemed Loyal Knight Karen Allen, the lodge's activities chairman. "He's always there. I'm always there when he needs me."
And there may be a Jump around the lodge for years to come: His daughter, Linda Masquefa, joined the lodge 2 1/2 years ago. She had attended father-daughter dances at the Santa Ana lodge as a child and held her first wedding reception there.
"They call it the Benevolent (and Protective) Order of Elks, but I call them the best people on Earth," Jump said.