lion graphicMacomb Lions Club History
1963-2010, cont'd.
Service Projectslions service project picture

One of the primary reasons for the existence of Lions Clubs is to help individuals less fortunate than we are. Thus, a number of activities to serve others are carried out by Lions everywhere. Some are done statewide through the Lions of Illinois Foundation such as Camp Lion, Dialogue, mobile vision and hearing testing units, while Lions International carries out other activities throughout the world. Chronicled here are the service activities of the Macomb Lions Club.

Our first project was the sponsoring of a baseball team for 14 and 15 year old boys in the Colt League in the summer of 1964. The sum of $450 was budgeted for the purchase of equipment and supplies. This was continued over the following two summers. Next was our participation in the city-wide immunization program conducted at the American Legion Hall on two Sundays, September 27 and October 25, 1964. Our third service project was the sponsoring of a boy scout troop that was formed in November, 1965. Lion Dick Brusninghan served as scoutmaster of this troop. In later years, the club sponsored another scout troop with Lion Dale Budde as scoutmaster, and a cub pack at Lincoln School.

Early in the club's history we became involved with what is now called the Eye Donor Registry Program (it was first known as the eye bank donor program). Donor cards were first distributed at the immunization program in 1964. Lion Mert Swan was in charge of this project. Our club continues to be actively involved in signing up eye donors, and for two consecutive years had the highest number of donor cards in the State of Illinois based on membership. Lion Numa Crowder was largely responsible for the success of this program during this period of time. A trophy was presented to Lion Numa Crowder representing the Macomb Club at the state convention on May 19, 1964. In 1989, the Macomb Lions Club earned 3rd place in the State of Illinois Eye Donor Registry. Eye Donor Registry remains an activity of the club to this day.

In 1966, the Macomb Lions Club participated in the Salvation Army's bell ringing program. From that date, our club has been assigned a date (or dates) for bell ringing each year. In 1982, the Macomb Club received an award for collecting the most dollar receipts of any organization participating in the bell ringing. Assisting the Salvation Army in this project continues to be a yearly service project of the Macomb Lions Club.

In 1975, the Macomb Lions Club began participation in World Service Days. Our service project consisted of donating work to elderly homeowners who could not perform these tasks themselves. On a day in October 22, our club members washed windows, raked leaves, puttied windows, put on storm windows, and performed similar other tasks for these elderly individuals. World Service Days continued as a Macomb Lions service project for several years.

In March of 1977, Macomb and WIU served as hosts for the first U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) national championships. Lion David Beaver was the individual primarily responsible for the selection of Macomb for this activity. The Macomb Lions Club contributed by providing transportation for blind athletes from local airports to Macomb. This activity was repeated the following year and again in 1980 when USABA came to Macomb for their second and fourth national championships. Lion Dave organized the first ever group of athletes with blindness in the area-called the Whiz Kids. The girls Goal Ball Teams never placed less than second in the nation, and throughout the 80s contributed players for US National teams competing throughout Europe and during the 1984 and 1988 Paralympic Games. The Macomb Lions Club supported their opportunity to participate throughout this period. Starting in 1990, the Macomb Lions Club contributed substantial amounts (usually $500 or more) in support of the national Achieving A Balance Conference dealing with sport, physical education recreation, and research for those with disabilities, as well as transporting attendees from the Moline, Burlington, and Peoria airports to and from the conference. This event was also organized by Lion Beaver, and remained an annual event in Macomb until his retirement at WIU in December 2000.

The Macomb Lions Club was involved in the start of the Radio Information Service (RIS) for the blind and physically handicapped. Lion Norman Severinsen and Bob Milkman were instrumental in our participation in this undertaking. The sum of $500 was pledged to support this activity, and the first installment of $250 was paid in February 1979. Other club members assisted in various ways to get this activity started, and the club has purchased receiver units at various times over the years. We also invested $1,000 of our own money and solicited $1,000 from other area clubs for the purchase of new equipment for the RIS. In addition, we have numerous members who are directly involved with the RIS. The Macomb Lions Club continues to monetarily sponsor the daily reading of the Macomb Journal.

The Lions of Illinois Foundation's hearing-screening unit first came to Macomb in May 1980. The glaucoma-screening unit first came to Macomb in the spring of 1983. Approximately 300 persons were tested on the day the unit was here. Club members and spouses assisted in the process. The Lions of Illinois Foundation discontinued the glaucoma unit in 1993 and a vision-screening unit has replaced it. The Macomb Lions Club regularly sponsors visits to Macomb by the hearing and vision screening units. Beginning in 2009, Diabetic Retinopathy screening was also done with these units.

In 1980, our club made large pledges of financial support for two projects. One was a pledge of $6,000 ($1,200 per year for five years) for the construction of the Illinois Eye Research Center in Chicago. The other was a pledge of $1,200 ($400 per year for three years) for the purchase of Camp Pearl, the former district boy scout camp. Both pledges were met as promised. Also in this year, our club accepted the responsibility of assisting with the raising and lowering the Flags of Love on Labor Day. The club has continued to assist in this activity each year since 1980.

From almost the beginning of our formation, the Macomb Lions Club has been involved in the collection of used eyeglasses. These are sent yearly to a central place in Illinois for distribution to Third World countries. We currently also collect used hearing aids. The club provides special collection boxes located in several locations throughout Macomb in order to actively collect these items all year long. Summer of 2006 saw the implementation of eyeglasses collection boxes at Citizen's National Bank West and Macomb's Farm King store. The collection boxes were retired U.S. Mail boxes, painted yellow and identified as Lion's eyeglass collection boxes. The idea was developed and implemented by Lions John Beaver and Bob Bowen and proved to be quite successful in increasing our collection of eyeglasses, along with an occasional letter meant for the U. S. Postal Service.

The Macomb Lions began participation in the Diabetes Awareness Program, in 1980. On two selected days each year, Macomb Lions pass out diabetes information and sugarless candy at various locations in Macomb. The focus on diabetes awareness remains a main goal of the Macomb Lions Club today.

Food Pantry picture
Lions Bowen & Roth helping with Food Pantry.
In 1991, the Macomb Lions Club began participation in White Cane Day for the benefit of the Macomb Area Visually Handicapped Association. One weekend each year Macomb Lion members man stations at local sites handing out small white canes to increase awareness of the visually handicapped and to collect donations for this local organization. The Macomb Lions Club also assists the Macomb Area Visually Handicapped Association by transporting members to their monthly meetings.service project picture
Ken Keudell (right) transports and escorts Jerrie Shallenberger, a member of the Macomb Area Association of the Visually Handicapped, to her monthly Association meeting.
In an effort to develop international cooperation and understanding the Macomb Lions club began sponsoring a Peace poster Contest in 2001 as part of an international contest. The contestants included children from local schools or organized, sponsored youth groups between the ages of 11 to 13. These children select their own artistic medium to express their feelings about the yearly themes. Over the years several local winners have gone on to succeed at the state level. The contest remains a yearly activity of the Macomb Lions Club.

Over the years, our club has been involved in helping our local community. In keeping with our primary focus on sight and hearing needs, the Macomb Lions Club provide financial asssistance for eye examinations, glasses and hearing aids for needy persons every year. Historically, this contribution has been around $2,000 per year. In 2009, the Club donated $1873 to Alexa Wohlfort, a Macomb resident, to help replace her guide dog.

Additionally, the Macomb Lions have also supported the Presidential Classroom, the McDonough County United Way, sponsored a young person to attend Boys State, helped send a blind person to participate in the International Goal Ball competition for the blind in Denmark, assisted the Lincoln School PTO by unloading food for their fund raisers, supported the Macomb Chapter of the Visually Handicapped, the McDonough County Rehabilitation Center, National Fire Safety (for Macomb schools), the Macomb High School band (for a trip to Washington, D.C.), the Salvation Army, and the "Athletes for Christ" program. We have also added Project Graduation and the After Prom Program in addition to numerous other requests for special funding, most recently the all-weather track at Macomb High School.

Since its inception the Macomb Lions Club has monetarily supported the efforts of local charities. For example in 1993, substantial donations were made to local charities: $1,300 to the West Central Illinois Special Education Cooperative; $500 to the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics; $1,000 to the Radio Information Service; $2,000 to the New Parent Program. In 2007 and 2008 the Macomb Lions Club provided $50 for each visually impaired student in the Macomb area schools. Beginning in the fall of 2006 and through 2008, the Macomb Lions gave financial support, along with other service clubs and community organizations, to a program in the Macomb schools designed to provide nutritious weekend meals for needy students.

Meeting Places

At the start, meetings were held at noon at the Lamoine Hotel. However, it became evident that many members had to leave the meetings before their conclusion, so evening meetings were held on an experimental basis. For a time, the club alternated between noon and dinner meetings. During the first year, the decision was made that dinner meetings would be held on the first and third Thursdays of each month.

Our meetings were held at the Lamoine Hotel until February 3, 1966. At that time, meetings were changed to the lower level of the Student Prince West. After a short time there, we moved to the Lincoln Room of the University Union for another brief sojourn, from July 7 to August 4, 1966. Starting September 1, 1966, and lasting until February 12, 1968, meetings were held at the Plainview Motel. Then it was back to the Lamoine Hotel from March 4, 1968, until January 19, 1970. Then came a long sojourn at the Holiday Inn, from February 5, 1970, until January 21, 1982. Because the quality of meals continued to deteriorate and the cost kept increasing, it was decided to return to the Lincoln Room on a trial basis. This worked out well, and the move was made permanent by board action on February 4, 1982. The club has met at the University Union, in either the Lincoln or Lamoine Rooms, since that time with the exception of brief a few short periods at the Red Ox and The Macomb Dining Company.

It should be pointed out that a number of meetings were held at the Lion Line site during the spring and summer months from 1965 until 1972, with catered dinners from such establishments as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Also, our Christmas dinner was held at times at the Macomb Country Club, and our annual family picnic in August was held at various places such as the girl scout camp, Argyle State Park, and Glenwood Park.

Other Events of Interest and Importance

Group singing was a part of each meeting until March 1970. Selections from the Lions songbook were rendered with varying degrees of success, as there was no piano accompaniment. On that date, the decision was made to discontinue singing at meetings. Apparently this practice was later reinstated, as the Lions Tale dated February 11, 1971, indicated several songs were sung with different Lions leading. This renewed interest did not last long, however. Under Lion Secretary David Ballew, the custom of singing happy birthday each month to honor appropriate members was inaugurated. Group singing was reinstated yet again by Lion President Bruce Prueter in 2004, with the assistance of Lion Tom Stites leading the group, and again during Lion Prueter's second term as President in 2007.

On November 1, 1963, Macomb Lions, spouses, and children donated 69 of the 231 pints of blood given at the Red Cross bloodmobile. The club also furnished transportation to donors who needed same.

On August 16, 1964, 25 Lions turned out to paint Mrs. Altheide's house. Lion Jerry, a charter member, lost his life in a boating accident earlier that year.
The first two donated corneas were transported for surgical implant in October and December, 1965. Transportation of donated eye tissue to airports and hospitals continues to be a service the Macomb club provides. Over the years these trips have been made to Peoria, Bloomington, Springfield and most recently to McDonough District Hospital.

Starting in early 1966, a live rooster was presented to the most recent Lions Club inductee. This fowl, known as the Booster Rooster, was retained by this club member until another Lions Club member was initiated. This practice, designed to encourage new members to recruit additional persons, was continued for several months.

The Macomb Lions Club has participated in the Service Club Olympics since they were started in 1978. We have finished anywhere from first to third (never last) in these games. We were first for four years in a row starting in 1979, and first again in 1984 and 1985.

In 1986, Macomb Lions Club members in small groups attended meetings of a number of other Lions Clubs in District I-H to share information and to promote a feeling of fellowship between clubs.

On July 9, 1987, following the historical change in the International Lions Constitution, our Board of Directors proposed an amendment in the Macomb Lions Club Constitution as follows: "All references in the Constitution to the male sex shall be removed and the wording changed to render the Constitution gender neutral". Membership applications for Kathleen Davis (sponsored by Lion George Nett) and Marcia Milkman (sponsored by Lion David Beaver) were approved by the Board of Directors on July 16, 1987. They, thus, became the first non-male members of the club, and the Macomb Lions Club became the first service club in Macomb and one of the first in District I-H to induct female members. Club members unanimously approved the constitutional amendment at the August 20, 1987, meeting, and Davis and Milkman were inducted on September 3, 1987.

In 1990, the Macomb Lions Club went through the effort to classify all historical records of the club and have them housed in the Western Illinois University Archives.

picture of J. BeckerJoyce Becker, first woman president of Macomb Lions Club.
On July 1, 1992, Joyce Becker became the 30th President of the Macomb Lions Club. She is the first woman to hold that office. It is very probable that Lion Joyce was one of the first of the fairer sex to hold that high a position in District I-H and possibly the State of Illinois. Since that time six other women have held the office of Macomb Lions Club President: Ruth Dove 1995-96; Linda Tomlinson 1996-97; Cynthia Helling 1997-98; Essie Rutledge 2002-03; and Julia Roskamp 2003-04.

In 1992, the Macomb Lions awarded Lion John Storey with its first Melvin Jones Fellow Award. The award was presented by Past International Director Bill Richardson. The presentation was in the form of a "roast" in which many disparaging remarks were made about John's golf game and personal idiosyncrasies. Since that time, five other distinguished Macomb Lions have been honored with Melvin Jones Fellow Awards: Lion Louis Battin, Lion Norman Severinsen, Lion Sidney Smay, Lion Bob Bowen, and Lion Alan Bishop.

In 1993, Lion David Beaver was recognized by Lions International for his outstanding efforts to recruit new members.

The year 2000 saw the start of one of our more infamous contests BAG-a-Lion, which stood for Bring-A-Guest. The club was divided into groups with the top two teams bring the most guests for the year awarded steaks instead of hot dogs at the family picnic. This spirited game was spearheaded by the same Lion, who shall remain nameless, that earlier had brought us Fun-Run-Baseball.

In June of 2001 it was reported in the Lions Tale that "Our Lions club has entered the 21st century with the development of its own website The website was designed and has been maintained by the efforts of Phyllis Beaver since its inception.

April 4, 2002 saw the Macomb Lion Club By-Laws amended to include a membership category of "special active." Special Active provides membership status for someone who would not be able to afford the cost of the meals but would like to participate in the club's service activity. Lion David Beaver chaired the committee whose efforts produced this by-law change.

In March of 2003, Lion Julia Roskamp delivered six solar powered hearing aids to Dr. Maribel Ponce de Leon, the head of audiology for Cuba. The hearing aids, manufactured by ComCare International and provided by the Macomb Lions Club, were to be part of a study in a remote province to see if they would be a good option for Cuba to purchase.

2003 saw the passing of past presidents Lion John Storey (April 10th) and Lion Sidney Smay (June 5th). Lions John and Sid were both charter members of the Macomb Lions Club as well as Melvin Jones Fellows.

In the spring of 2004 the Macomb Lions club was a major participant in the collection of hazardous waste for the city of Macomb and the surrounding area. Lion Bob Bowen was singled out as being one of the driving forces behind this activity. The highly successful event broke a regional record for participation with over 1700 vehicles delivering hazardous waste to the site.

May 24th 2004 Lion Bob Meixner passed away, just before his term as President of the Macomb Lions Club was to come to a close.

August 9, 2004 the Macomb Lions Club dedicated two memorial fishing benches in honor of Lion Sidney Smay in Patton Park. The memorial fishing benches were made possible through the help of the Macomb Park District and memorials made to the Macomb Lions Club in Lion Sid's name. As part of the dedication ceremony, the Lions Club brought youths from the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization leading them in an afternoon of fishing.

Under the leadership of Lions Jack Schoonover and Gary Sherer, Macomb Lions helped to serve as ambassadors for the Lions USA/Canada Leadership Forum between September 20 - 24, 2005, in Peoria, Illinois.

On November 3, 2006, the Macomb Board of Directors accepted Norm Severinsen's resignation due to illness and then unanimously appointed Lion Norm as a lifetime member of the Macomb Lions Club. Lion Norm, a charter member of the club, provided exemplarary service and leadership to the Macomb Lions Club.

Beginning in December, 2007, the monthly Lions Tale publication was replaced with a monthly electronic President's Message and bimonthly electronic Meeting Reminders.

September 17, 2008, long time Lions Club member Numa Crowder passed away and a Lions Club memorial fund was established in his name.

Macomb Lions Club celebrated its 45th Anniversary on September 18, 2008.
                                     Bob Coutts, Norm Severinsen, Lou Battin
Founding President Bob Coutts (left above) attended along with charter members Norm Severinsen and Lou Battin.

March 5, 2009, Macomb Lions Club sponsored the annual Hearing screening and for the first time Diabetic Retinopathy screening.

March, 2009, Macomb Lion Jim Entwistle was elected Vice Governor for District 1-H.

April, 2009, Macomb Lions Club purchased 42 Braille, large print and bibliotherapy books for the Lincoln School Library with $585 from the Numa Crowder Memorial Fund.

April, 2009, the Macomb Lions Club donated $1873 for a guide dog and training trip for Macomb resident Alexa Wohlfort whose previous guide dog died in January of 2009.  The entire Macomb community was able to collect a total of $4000 to help cover her expenses.

June 18, 2009, Macomb Lions Club held a recognition reception for its two new Melvin Jones Award winners: Lions Bob Bowen and Alan Bishop.

September, 2009, it was announced that the Macomb Lions Club won the 2008 Candy Day first Place (medium club) for the largest Dollar Amount Per Capita from the Lions of Illinois Foundation.

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