Albion Lions Club celebrates 90 years

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Club is second oldest in region behind only Rochester

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – Bill Robinson, president of the Albion Lions Club, and Dan Parker, the vice president emeritus, greet people at the club’s 90th anniversary celebration on Saturday at the Hickory Ridge Country Club.

Robinson joined the Lions two years ago at age 69.

“I wish I had joined 30 years ago,” he said. “You can’t measure the amount of pleasure and camaraderie I’ve had since I joined.”

The Albion High School Jazz Ensemble, including drummer Cody Osborne, perform for about 50 people during the anniversary party. Mike Thaine is the group’s conductor and director.

The Lions have 20 members. Robinson said the group funds $3,500 in scholarships each year. The Lions also give to community projects. They is pushing for upgrades at Bullard Park.

It also sponsors a youth baseball team and works on other community projects, raising money with a sausage booth at the Strawberry Festival, and by selling roses on Mother’s Day and geraniums during Memorial Day.

A board with a list of past presidents includes the name of John Keding. He joined the club in 1968 and was president in 1976. Keding remains an active member of the club.

Robinson said the group is stepping up efforts to grow its membership and offering personal invitations. It also will unveil a Website in January.

“There’s so many things going on today that it’s hard for people to commit,” Robinson said. “We’re best kept secret as an organization in Albion. You see the sign but you don’t always hear about it or know who to contact.”

Robinson said prospective members are welcome to call him at 585-589-4355. The club meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge on Platt Street.

The Rev. Wilfred Moss, a past president of the Lions Club and a member since 1997, leads the group prayer on Saturday.

Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin was the featured speaker during the 90th anniversary celebration. He spoke about the Lions founder, Melvin Jones, who was in insurance business in Chicago and pushed to start a humanitarian organization in 1917. Jones had a motto: “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.”

“He had initiative and imagination,” Lattin said. “He was a self-starter and that’s how you get places in the world.”

Several of the Albion club members have won the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award, the highest honor given by Lions. John Keding, Daniel Parker, Dr. Satya Sahukar and Lloyd Wright have all won the award.

The Albion club was the first in the region between Niagara Falls and Rochester. It was chartered on Aug. 25, 1924. The orginal charter and the signatures of the initial 22 members was on display on Saturday during the anniversary celebration.

Charles Howard, who would later start a world famous Santa Claus School in Albion, was a founding member of the Albion Lions Club. His signature is at the bottom right of the club’s charter.

Lattin spoke about some of those club founders, a dentist, grocer, high school gym teacher, farmer, doctor, cold storage operator, druggist, funeral director and other merchants.

“These are all people who were self starters,” Lattin said. “They had imagination and initiative.”

Lattin said the club has moved to about a dozen different locations during its history, but has kept community service at the forefront of its mission.

“Over these nine decades you certainly have some great accomplishments you can be proud of,” he said.