Fairmont Lions Club > Lions 100

Lions Centennial

Reflections by James E. Coleman, a past president (1984-85) and current member of the Fairmont Lions Club

Edited from a presentation to the Fairmont Lions Club on June 8, 2017 (100 years and 1 day after Lions Clubs were organized)

A centennial is usually a time to reflect and remember the high spots and learn from the low spots of the past. So I want to reflect on the Fairmont Lions Club, particularly during the time I have been a member. In doing so, I ask you not to expect me to be complete, but to reflect on the meaning of our motto, "We Serve."

April 23, 2017 was the 94th anniversary of the Fairmont Lions Club. In 2013, it will be our club's centennial. Our club has had five members who became District Governors. Hershal H. Yost was our Charter President. I would like to mention some early presidents who are still in the club today: 1975-76, Jacob G. Brumage; 1979-80, PDG Robert Moffett; 1984-85, Dr. James E. Coleman; 1992-93, Robert E. Brummage. There are a number of others who have served as president in more recent times.

In 1935 the club held the first annual Union Mission Christmas party which has continued [providing gifts for our area's underprivileged children] to this day. In 1951 the club began selling brooms and mops.

Officially, I joined the club on January 1, 1978. When PDG Bob Moffett was president, we met at the Fairmont Motor Hotel every Friday evening. I would guess our average attendance was regularly in the forties.)

I recall a night when Bob Moffett as tailtwister fined every member of the club for not wearing socks that matched his one red and one blue. I also remember the night as tailtwister that he brought a cake to celebrate the club president's birthday and took up a collection to pay for the cake, which turned out to be a round block of wood covered with whipping cream.

Over the years, we had some great events and some tough times. In 1971, the club held its first Glaucoma clinic. In 1980, we held our first Glaucoma and Amblyopia cinic at Fairmont State College. In 1990, we moved [the clinic] to Middletown Mall. We could not afford the clean up costs at the college. Later, [the clinic] was discontinued, but we took up eye screenings using a van from [the West Virginia Lions Sight Foundation]. Bob Moffett usually made the arrangements. More recently, he has arranged for us to use an eye screening camera that we currently use.

Then there was the Lion Auction and automobile raffle. We asked merchants for donations and held [the auction] in the building where Big Lots is now. We even had Miss West Virginia present. A former member, Terry Brake, was the brains behind this event.

The Fairmont Lions Club had a women's auxiliary, but Lions Clubs International introduced "Lioness Clubs" for women. Eventually the women became Lionesses. Some years later, Lions opened clubs to women members. It took our club awhile, first with wives joining and then other women as well.

In 1989-90, we tried our hand at a new LIons program called "Lions Quest, Skills for Adolescence." We chose Susan Boore, a counselor at Barrackville Middle School. We enlisted 12 corporate sponsors to donate funds to send her for three days training and to purchase materials for the sixth grade class involved. The program taught self-esteem, discipline, decision-making, responsibility and basic values. Barrackville Lions Club teamed with us to provide activities for the class. The project was both a success and a failure. The program was great, but we hoped that by sponsoring it for one year that the Board of Education might pick it up as the club could not continue to fund it year after year.

Then there was the year we were nearly unable to provide eyeglasses for those unable to afford them. It started in the fall of 1997. We were finally helped by the Royal Order of the Moose who gave us $1000 in February of 1999. I'll never forget the night during a board meeting when we were discussing the need for raising more money. At the time, the club did not have a fundraising chairperson. Bob Moffett volunteered to take on one fundraising project if someone would take over the other fundraisers. We went around the table volunteering one after another to take one project. That night we established the policy of a chairperson for each fundraising project a policy that has worked very well for our club.

Over the years, the club's newsletter, "The Mane Growl," has changed. I remember when Charles Herron was editor, it was produced using a mimeograph. Later, I got a computer and became the print staff for Charles Herron. This was 1986. I included clip art. In 1994, Bob Moffett became editor when Charles Herron "retired" from that position. "The Mane Growl" began to include black & white photos. A color photo was first used in May of 1998 and again in April of 2000, then regularly after December 2000. Moffett also set up a web page for the club.