THE BIRTH OF THE TRI-VILLAGE LIONS CLUB
In July, 1950, District Governor Lawernce Holtsberry of Hebron in District 13-B (now 13-F), began to spread the news that a new club would be forming. Ten gentlemen attended a briefing at the home of E. Wallet Blower on July 25: John Bates, E. Wallet Blower (1st President), John Brehm, Kenneth M. Ewing, Harold Hartley, Vincent James, Frank Kelley, Dr. Lawrence Larrimer, William C. Shough and Albert Tretzel. They committed themselves to the task of organizing the Tri-Village Lions Club with the help and sponsorship of the Bexley Lions.
Given a deadline of September 20, 1950 to identify at least 25 individuals for Charter Membership (the minimum required by LCI), this core group zealously pursued their goal. As the deadline approached, 76 men had accepted membership and their names are inscribed on our Charter. The Charter was issued by Lions Club International on September 8, 1950, as club number 8480. On September 26, 1950, Lion President Walter Blower presided over 187 members and guests at the First Community Church to witness the Charter presentation and induction of the Charter Members into the Tri-Village Lions Club.
In the first years of its existence the club actively recruited members and its ranks quickly swelled to 110 individuals at its peak. In those early days there were strict rules regarding who would be allowed to join, restricting membership to no more than two members from various fields of endeavor – two lawyers, two from the insurance industry, two grocers, two clergy, and so on. As a result, the club maintained an active waiting list of those who were anxious to be involved but had to wait for an opportunity to join the ranks of the prestigious Tri-Village Lions.
In those earlier days of Lionism, membership in the Lions Clubs was only open to men. An active group of women, many of them wives of Club members, decided that they, too, wished to have a role in serving and supporting the Tri-Village community. On December 14, 1951, the Tri-Village Lions Auxiliary was chartered. More than 50 years later (2003), this still-thriving and active Auxiliary group was converted to the Tri-Village Lions Branch Club.
The first order of business for the newly formed Tri-Village Lions was to determine how they could best raise funds that could then be given over the to various community and philanthropic causes they wished to support. The club members disliked selling chances for turkeys, wrestling matches in Grandview Stadium, and staging variety shows. So the officers, Lions Bob Morrison, John Trimble, Julius Keitz, Bob Wessels and Dr. Fred Hall met to consider alternatives and they initiated the Tri-Village Light Bulb Sale. First held in 1954, the Light Bulb Sale became an annual tradition, both for the Lions and their customers throughout the Tri-Village community. Club members went door-to-door selling “Light for Sight” to their neighbors and friends. That first year, profit from the Light Bulb sale was just a few hundred dollars. Just two years later, in 1956, the Club recorded profits of $3454. That was quite a feat when the price list for the sale included packages of 10 bulbs for $2.00 and single 100 watt light bulbs sold for 19¢! Throughout the years, the Light Bulb Sale was a huge moneymaker and one of the highlights of the Tri-Village calendar. The Lions formed teams and competed against one another for awards for their salesmanship. Cars and trucks would be stationed at strategic corners throughout the area with light bulbs stacked in the back. The Lions would return often and pick up more “product” to offer to the customers down that next block or around the next corner. Over the years, the Tri-Village Lions were able to raise several hundred thousand dollars through this important fund raising event (sometimes showing profits exceeding $30,000 in a single week’s sale!). The Light Bulb Sale has been discontinued in recent years, but club members still recall fondly the excitement, camaraderie, and success of the traditional “Light for Sight” campaigns.
This year, the Tri-Village Lions will be holding three primary fundraising activities. In July, Lions host a Pancake Breakfast in conjunction with the Grandview Lazy Daze celebration. October will find us hanging out on street corners and approaching stopped motorists as we collect funds in our traditional White Cane Sticker Sale. In March, our Rose Sale brings money to our project fund while bringing joy to the several hundred folks who will receive bouquets of roses ordered for them by friends and family. Meanwhile, the ladies of the Tri-Village Branch Club have shifted their focus away from the traditional fashion and style show that was their primary fundraiser in years past. Nowadays, they sell flats of flowers every spring to brighten our gardens, while they hold a sale of baked goods in the fall, to tempt our taste buds. All proceeds from these fundraisers go to support our philanthropic donations.
“KNIGHTS OF THE BLIND” AND MORE
At the Opening Session of the 8th International Lions Club Convention in 1925, Helen Keller spoke to the assembled delegates and challenged them to become “Knights of the Blind.” Through six decades, the Tri-Village Lions have honored that call for help, providing funding for innumerable projects related to support/assistance for people who are blind or have visual impairments, sight conservation activities, eye research, and more. Included in this focus on issues of blindness are contributions to Pilot Dogs, the Central Ohio Lions Eye Bank, the Ohio Lions Foundation, the Ohio Lions Eye Research Foundation, The Ohio State University Eye Research Lab Fund, The Dick Bryan Diabetes Research Fellowship, The Ohio Society to Prevent Blindness, the Sensory Garden at the Ohio State School for the Blind, the District 13 – F Eye Care Fund, Newsreel for the Blind Inc., the Beep Ball Association, the Ohio Lions Quest Fund, and the Central Ohio Radio Reading Service. For a number of years, the Tri-Village Lions have supported students from the OSU School of Optometry (SVOSH – Student Volunteers for Optometric Service to Humanity) as they have carried out visits to remote corners of the world, providing eyeglasses and sight conservation training to people in poor and rural communities. Well over $25,000 has been contributed to the Lions Club International Foundation, to combine with the funds of other Lions Clubs worldwide and further the humanitarian goals of the organization.
Often, money raised by the Tri-Village Lions is consciously dedicated to those close to home in the Tri-Village and Central Ohio area. The Lions have supported the youth of our community for many years, from early financial sponsorship of the Grandview Little League and the Upper Arlington Baseball Association to today’s support for the Bobcat Boosters and the annual awarding of scholarships to service-minded Seniors from Grandview Heights and Upper Arlington High Schools. Camp Echoing Hills, providing recreational experiences for children who are blind or have orthopedic handicaps, has been the primary focus of philanthropic contributions from the Tri-Village Branch. The Tri-Village Lions have supported local area agencies and organizations serving individuals with a variety of disabilities, including the Columbus Speech and Hearing Association, Canine Companions, and the Ohio Diabetes Association.
Since our founding in 1950, more than $1.1 million dollars has been collected and distributed to a variety of worthy causes. We hope to match and exceed those contributions in the 60 years to come!
In 1954, Lions Club International adopted the motto “We Serve.” For 60 years, the Tri-Village Lions have exemplified that commitment, contributing much more than money to the community. The Lions have given generously of their time, their energies, and their industry. Lions regularly provide assistance to elderly and disabled neighbors who are without transportation and need to make their way into the community. We pack and deliver food baskets to needy families during the holiday season in cooperation with a local church, and hold food drives to gather supplies to support the local food pantry. We have participated in local clean-up campaigns, blood drives, and safety training.
Our eye-glass recycling program has been tremendously successful over time. Every year, the Lions collect roughly 4,000 pairs of eyeglasses from a dozen drop boxes scattered throughout the Tri-Village area. These discarded glasses from local residents are counted and sorted and turned over to the OSU School of Optometry to be reused for those in need, here and abroad. The Lions also provide vouchers to needy community residents, largely children referred by the schools, to allow them to be fitted with glasses that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
Perhaps the most tangible evidence of the “sweat equity” that the Tri-Village Lions have expended over the years is to be seen in the building of the Reed Road Shelter House (Upper Arlington’s Reed Road Park, adjacent to Fire Station 72). The Tri-Village Lions not only provided all the funds used to build the Shelter House in 1962, but actually did the building. The Lions broke ground for the Shelter House on March 29, 1962, with Upper Arlington city officials in attendance to witness the event. Over the course of the next few months, the Lions physically built the Shelter House, bringing in construction crews to assist when necessary, but preferring to do the work themselves whenever possible. From laying the foundation to finishing off the roof, Tri-Village Lions were active participants. One fireplace inside the Shelter House is dedicated to Lion President Julius Keitz (1953-54), while the other was funded by, and dedicated to, the Tri-Village Lions Auxiliary. The Lions’ efforts are commemorated by a plaque on the outer West wall, dedicated at the time the Shelter House opened on July 4, 1962. A second plaque lists the names of Lions who have since passed away, recognizing the dedication of the men and women who have given so much of themselves to the community.
THE TRI-VILLAGE LIONS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN LEADERS
The Tri-Village Lions have been fortunate, over the years, to benefit from the dedication of club officers and Presidents willing to shoulder the responsibilities of leadership. While no Lion has been asked to assume the role of President for more than one term, we have seen the mantle of responsibility shared within families, from father to son (Lions Julius and Don Keitz, Tony and Rick Rocci) and even from husband to wife (Lions John and Carol Dilley). The Tri-Village Club first accepted women into its ranks in 1995, and immediately tapped the talent and energies of our new additions. Lion Judy Tackett Was elected as our first woman president for 2002-2003. The club has reached out to actively embrace members who are blind, taking steps to insure their full integration into club activities and governance, with two of those individuals having served as President of the organization in recent years.
The Tri-Village Club has also provided leadership to Lions at the District and State level. Lion John Dilley became the first Tri-Village Lion to serve as District Governor (2000-01), while Lion Jeff Brantner has long served as Secretary of the Ohio Lions Foundation and Lion Brian Turner is a Trustee of the Ohio Lions Eye Bank. Our award-winning monthly newsletter, Between the Lions, is recognized as the best around, and our recently unveiled website will certainly set a new benchmark of excellence for Lions Clubs near and far. In 1999, the Tri-Village Lions voted to sponsor and support the emergence of an additional club in our area and the Tri-Village Noon Lions Club was chartered on September 15, 2001.
In 1960, Lions Clyde Tipton and Dwight Swepston, members of the Tri-Village Lions Club, brought a motion to the State Convention of the Ohio Lions to adopt Pilot Dogs as a State project. They were persuasive in their presentation, and Pilot Dogs was thus recognized at the 41st Convention, and granted permission to be known as “Lions Pilot Dogs” by Lions Club International. Today, over 500 Lions Clubs nationwide support the Pilot Dogs organization, but none have contributed more funding or leadership than the Tri-Village Lions, who maintain ongoing representation on the Pilot Dogs Board of Directors.
In 2001, Tri-Village Lion John Dilley (now Past District Governor) brought the same attention to Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) as had earlier been focused on Pilot Dogs. Lion Dilley urged the Ohio Lions Governors Council to adopt CCI as a focus of Lions’ giving in Ohio. The organization is now acknowledged at the State level through the Lions Project for Canine Companions for Independence.
Today, as was true nearly 60 years ago, the Lions of Tri-Village are a well respected, active and a progressive club locally, as well as at the District, State and International levels. We are proud of the Tri-Village Lions Club members who have contributed so much to this community over the years, and we look forward to honoring their dedication and efforts by continuing their work in the decades to come.
Lion Jane Jarrow, 2010
|Lawrence S. Abbot||Edwin Knight||Director|
|Nelson Agard||Dr. Lawrence A. Larrimer|
|John N. Bates||Lion Tamer||Lawrence D. Long|
|Victor M. Barricklow||Alvin W. Love|
|Edward C. Binder||Albert D. Lupide|
|E. Wallett Blower||President||Arthur J. McCullough|
|George Bornheim||William C. McKinley|
|John J. Brehm||Director||Thomas J. Macklin, Jr.|
|Paul H. Brown||Emmitt W. Mullholland|
|Fred W. Burton||Malcom J. Mooney|
|Louis E. Conniff||Norman W. Moon|
|Rev. Albert Culliton||Robert B. Morrison|
|John D. Currier||Warren W. Mouch|
|Dr. Richard W. Deeds||David Nardone|
|Richard C. Deeg||James A. Nicklis|
|Rev. John Dickhaut||Hugh J. O'Doherty||Director|
|Joe Dobbins||J. Edward Oyer||Tail Twister|
|Woodrow H. Dicke||Norman E. Palmer|
|Harry H. Dodson||Walter B. Quigley|
|Kenneth M. Ewing||3rd Vice President||Dr. Louis A. Riccardi|
|Samual R. Laverhill||Rev. Edward J. Rydman|
|William E. Fick||Wayne K. Rife|
|John B. Gerlach||John W. Robbins|
|Warren J. Green||L. Edwin Roelofs|
|Thomas A. Griffith||Dr. Howard A. Rose|
|Dr. Fred H. Hall||Thayer Savage|
|John E. Hammond, Jr.||Thomas W. Savage|
|Harold B,. Hartley||Joseph O. Sherrard|
|John R. Hayes||William C. Shough||Treasurer|
|Dr. John H. Helwig||Charles B. Smith|
|Edward E. Hempel||William C. Stone|
|Charles R. Hubbard||Henry T. Summerford|
|Vincent G. James||2nd Vice President||Max Swerdlow|
|Julius B. Keitz||Thomas M. Tarpy|
|Frank W. Kelly||Secretary||Albert M. Tietzel||1st Vice President|
|Robert W. Kemper||John J. Trimble|
|Dr. Donald C. Kent||William E. Wipple|
|Dr. John F. Kitchton||Dean Whited|