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By her work as beneficiary recorder of the Royal Neighbors of America, the woman’s auxiliary to the Modern Woodmen of America, the largest fraternal insurance society in the world, Miss Myrtle E. Dade has shown herself a woman of rare business and executive ability. A quality no less rare, she has demonstrated her ability to efficiently supervise a considerable body of women without friction and in a manner which has accomplished wonderful results. So systematically has the work in her offices been handled that other similar societies have paid her the compliment of adopting many of the devices which she originated and first put in use in the beneficiary department of the Royal Neighbors, the headquarters of which is at Rock Island.
Miss Dade was born in Fulton, Whiteside County, Illinois, which was the early home of the Woodmen Society. She was the daughter of Rufus E. Dade and Elizabeth R. Dade, and was one of a family of four children. Her father was a shoe dealer at Fulton and one of the leading citizens of the place. He enlisted in the Civil War in the Fifth Michigan Volunteer Infantry, Company F, September 10, 1861, and served till October 27, 1864. He participated with Grant’s command in some of the hardest battles of the war, being wounded at the Wilderness. June 6, 1866, he re-enlisted in the Forty-third Veteran Reserve Corps and performed duty two years as an artificer with the rank of noncommissioned officer, being stationed at Fort Mackinac. Mr. Dade was married in 1871 to Elizabeth R. Webb. He served as mayor of Fulton and held other offices of trust.
Miss Dade was educated in the Fulton public schools, graduating from the high school in 1899. Prior to that she had completed a course in stenography at the Northern Illinois College. She early took up drawing as a pastime, and being gifted with a taste for art and unusual natural ability, she was successful to a marked degree. Her accomplishments were further broadened during a year spent at a musical academy for girls at Chicago, which she attended while in quest of health after she had taken up the work of her life with the Modern Woodmen.
Miss Dade became connected with the Woodmen at Fulton in the Summer of 1890, being permanently employed in November of that year by A. F. Morrison, then head clerk. She was retained by Major C. W. Hawes, who was elected head clerk at the succeeding head camp. Various minor positions were held in the head office, experience being gained in all lines of the work. Shortly after returning from a year’s absence, deemed necessary on account of temporarily impaired health, Miss Dade, in April, 1895, was asked to assist Mrs. Mary Fay Hawes, who was then beneficiary recorder of the Royal Neighbors of America. At the end of two months the duties of the office fell entirely upon her shoulders. Late in the Summer of 1905 she was appointed beneficiary recorder, which office she has held ever since, being reappointed after each supreme camp by the beneficiary committee.
At the head camp, held at Peoria, Illinois, in May, 1908, the social and beneficiary departments were consolidated, the headquarters being located at Rock Island. Miss Dade was elected supreme recorder.
At the time the subject of this sketch took charge of the department, fraternal insurance, especially for women, was just emerging from infancy, and crudeness characterized the system of conducting the business. It remained for Miss Dade to introduce order and system, and this she did in a manner that attracted much attention in the fraternal world. One of her triumphs was the introduction of the card system of membership record. This was done in 1899, and has been the means of saving the society great expense. The society now has a beneficiary membership of 128,000, which is carefully taken care of by a force of thirty competent young ladies, and the office has the reputation of doing business promptly. The work has been rendered the more difficult because of the fact that office room is limited and great economy must be exercised in the disposition of the records, office force and furniture. The whole soul of the beneficiary recorder has, however, been in her work, and she has spared neither time nor pains in her efforts to attain perfection.
Miss Dade became a resident of Rock Island in 1897, when the headquarters of the Modern Woodmen and the Royal Neighbors was removed to that city from Fulton. She united with the Presbyterian Church at Fulton and became a member of the Broadway Presbyterian Church in Rock Island.