Gary J. Bergenske of Orlando, Florida, is currently serving his 10th year as a member of the Boards of Directors for Shriners International and Shriners Hospitals for Children. Bergenske was elected Imperial Chief Rabban, part of the 12-member body that helps govern the Shriners fraternity, during the Shriners’ 2016 Imperial Session – held in Tampa, Florida, July 3 - July 7.
Bergenske was raised a Master Mason in 1994 at Eola Lodge #207 in Orlando. He became a member of Bahia Shriners in Orlando in 1994, where he is now a lifetime member. He served as Potentate of Bahia in 2005. Bergenske is the founder of the Bahia Historical and Educational Museum in Orlando. He is an associate member of Zor Shriners in Madison, Wisconsin. He is also a perpetual lifetime member of the Orlando Scottish Rite and holds the rank of Knight Commander of the Court of Honor. Bergenske is an emeritus member of Shriners International, a lifetime member of the Cabiri International, and a member of the Royal Order of Jesters, The Order of Quetzalcoatl, Lions International, and the Loyal Order of Moose.
Bergenske served three successful years as Chairman of the Shriners International all-star college football event, the East-West Shrine Game®. During his years as a member of the boards of directors, he has served on numerous committees, including as Chairman of the Public Relations, Fraternal Strategic Planning, Information Services, Insurance, Protocol, and Capital Evaluation Committees. In addition, he has served as the Liaison Officer to the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Erie, Springfield, Houston, Galveston, Portland, Honolulu and Spokane. On the Imperial Membership Committee, he served on the Executive Committee for 14 years and was a charter member of both the TRAC and PACE Teams. He has also been an inspirational keynote speaker and presenter at Imperial conferences for Oriental Guides, Assistant Rabbans, Public Relations, Donor Relations and Membership.
During the time Bergenske was a member of the Imperial Membership Executive Committee, he came up with the idea of a Shriners mascot to not only promote the fraternity but to also attract younger generations, which resulted in the development of Fez Head Fred. While serving as Membership Chairman of Bahia Shriners, Bergenske created and developed the Mentor Program to get new members involved. Shriners now use this program throughout the world.
In 1985, Bergenske purchased J & J Metro Moving and Storage, which he has owned and operated for the past 30 years. In addition, Bergenske is a motivational speaker and has written three books. His books discuss ways to “Build a Better Life” and “Become a Better Leader” and are available in more than 10 countries, where they are making a positive difference in people’s lives.
In his down time, he loves traveling, the outdoors, hunting, old cars and Harley- Davidsons. Bergenske and his wife, Anne, have six children – Carrie, Lisa, Jason, Jami, David and Jared – and are often referred to as the “Bergy Bunch.” They have 11 grandchildren who regularly brighten their days.