Celebrating the good deeds of the Rugby Lions
On Monday evening, the Rugby Lions Club celebrated its 85th anniversary Charter Night. Dr. Fred Shively served as the first president of the club when it was chartered on Sept. 11, 1928. All of the original members were men; most of them were professionals in the community. I have been privileged to be a part of this fine club for the past 25 years. When you become a member of the Lions Club, you have a sponsor. Mine was the late Curtis E. Strand who, along with his wife Maxine, established Strand Studio in Rugby. Prior to joining, I attended many meetings with Curt and found them to be most enjoyable and also informative. The Rugby club continues to meet every Monday at noon and members share a meal, fellowship, sometimes singing, and three weeks out of the month, a guest speaker.
This was a great way for me to be introduced to other business folks in the community and also to become aware of the Lions motto, “We Serve.” Members informed me that Lions International had been found in 1917 by Chicago businessman Melvin Jones. I quickly learned that sight projects were first on the “serve” list of Lions members, and Helen Keller had dubbed the Lions as “Knights of the Blind.” In addition to caring for sight, Lions also provide many other services in their communities including caring for the environment, feeding the hungry, and assisting the elderly and disabled. Lions currently have a global membership of 1.35 million. When these souls connect with the motto “We Serve,” things happen to make our world a better place.
Projects for the Rugby Lions Club include Project Joy, which was presented to our club by the late Mark L. Carlson. This project brings forth Christmas joy for those who are need in our community. Each Christmas, Lions members along with other community members, make Christmas brighter for many folks by filling shopping lists presented by folks in need. Coats, food, clothing, mittens, caps, toys, lotions and many other items are gathered and given.
Lions like to have fun! One of the very first years I was in the club, we presented a Lions Din – with much success, I might add. Members talked me into being a reporter, and I traveled all around Rugby looking for Elvis Presley. I can still recall the late Fred Lien of Lien’s Jewelry responding when I asked if he had seen Elvis.
“Why yes, he was here wanting to buy some large diamond rings, and I am still ‘All Shook Up,'” he said.
The late Bob Jenkins put his creative genius to dreaming up this idea. It certainly had the town interested, and needless to say, we sold out the show each evening. In addition to looking for Elvis, the show featured Hartley Hageness in a grass skirt singing “Feelings.” (The only way this act could have been any funnier was if Hartley’s wife, Jordy, showed up on stage and started cutting his grass skirt with a weed eater!)
Now the show did offer
some very classical entertainment. That came in the style of the late Daryl Kuhnhenn, along with Carlan Kraft and others, appearing on stage as ballerinas. They put a new spin on jete’. They threw their legs like ballerinas have never done before. Men in pink tutus dancing on the stage to raise money for sight projects and beyond – I knew at this moment that life in Rugby would never be dull.
When Jan and I attended our first Charter Night 25 years ago, we sat with Curtis and Maxine Strand and Harold and Jean Vigeland. Once the banquet was over, we then went to the Strand home where the coffee pot was immediately put on and a delicious dessert rested in the wings. We hashed the evening completely over, and then we had the delight of hearing the early stories of the Rugby Lions and their many good deeds and adventures. At one point, Jean and Maxine were presenting the details of an earlier Lions Din, and they started to laugh so deeply they both ended up in tears. This was all over a certain Lions member who had dressed up as a woman!
Maxine also told of when they attended a convention in Canada. Lions are known for having fun and pulling pranks. When she and Curt stepped out of the car, Curt noticed a Lion in the nearby bushes. Well, Curt thought it was a group of Lions dressed in a lion costume and as he strolled toward the supposed costume, he realized it was a real lion! No kidding – a lion had escaped from the local zoo! In the words of Maxine, this lion was looking for lunch and the only reason he didn’t eat Curt was because he noticed her in the background and thought, “Now there is a meal.” The moral of the story is that it pays to have a wife with a little meat on her bones. Curt did manage to get back safely in the car along with Maxine just as the zookeepers rounded the corner.
Lions over the years have grown in wisdom. A fine example was allowing women to become members in the late 1980s. Today, women make up a large percentage of membership. Their leadership and guidance to Lions International is invaluable. In our club, Betty Triplett was the first female to hold an officer’s position.
Rugby Lions has had a rich history of singing songs during each meeting. It is a great way to relax and have a bit of fun. Currently we do not sing songs during each meeting, and I miss it. I have visited with many pianists who played for the Rugby Lions Club over the years and some of the names who come to mind are Catherine Hornstein, Burton Kristjanson, Dianne Carlson Montonye and Jan Repnow. They smile when they talk about a group of men singing with passion “Don’t You Hear those Lions Roar!”
As I received my 25-year Monarch Chevron, I could not help but reflect on the many good memories that I have because of being a Lions member, and also for the many good deeds Lions International members brings forth daily to our world. Yes, Lions International is a “World of Service.”
This was a standby dessert for our coffee visits with Strands and Vigelands.