Fairmont Lions Club > History


A History of the Fairmont Lions Club

The Fairmont Lions Club is chartered

In 1923, Fairmont, in the heart of West Virginia’s growing bituminous coal industry, was a thriving community with over 18,000 people and a county population of 55,000. Downtown Fairmont, with a modern streetcar system bringing residents of nearby of nearby communities to the bustling business district, saw the construction of several new commercial buildings.

The “war to end all wars” was over and West Virginia -- still less than 60 years old -- was becoming increasingly important to the industrial development of the nation because of vast oil, gas and coal reserves.

It was in this atmosphere that the Fairmont Lions Club was born with the granting of a charter by the International Association of Lions Clubs on April 20, 1923. The first club president was Dr. Herschel R. Yost. Only the sixth Lions club in West Virginia and the first in the north central part of the state, the Fairmont Lions Club became part of the organization that was on the move throughout the United States and Canada, with clubs in 42 states and four provinces.

First meeting at the Fairmont YMCA, the Fairmont Lions Club soon moved its meetings to the prestigious Fairmont Hotel, where it held Friday noon meetings until 1935 when it switched to Friday evening meetings to accommodate members from outlying businesses and industries. In 1980, the Fairmont Lions Club said “farewell” to the Fairmont Hotel and to Friday meetings.

Much has changed in those 80 years. Our nation and our world have grown smaller through the growing importance of the automobile, air travel, and even ventures into space. But the purpose to which Lionism was born -- fellowship and service -- remains as important today as it was on April 20, 1923.

We Serve

During its seven and a-half decades of existence, The Fairmont Lions Club has faithfully served the people of Fairmont and Marion County, with particular emphasis on those less fortunate individuals and those with sight and hearing impairments.

Since its organization in 1923, over 800 men and women members have put forth maximum effort to render true service to their community.

The Fairmont Lions Club has purchased thousands of pairs of eyeglasses for school children, as well as scores of others for needy adults. In their glaucoma and amblyopia clinics begun in 1971, the Fairmont Lions Club has helped to check over 10,000 adults for glaucoma and over 3,000 children for amblyopia and other eye diseases and problems. By early detection resulting in early treatment, more serious eye problems have been prevented. Recently, the Fairmont Lions Club began a program of diabetic eye disease education in the hope of preventing blindness in diabetics.

In 1935, the Fairmont Lions Club began a program that continues to this day and has become an annual Christmas tradition. Held consecutively for 70 years, the Fairmont Lions Club Christmas Party for underprivileged children is held each year in conjunction with the Union Mission of Fairmont. Approximately 5,000 children have received Christmas gifts, clothes, candy and fruit delivered by Santa Claus, himself, and provided by the Fairmont Lions Club.

Lions of Fairmont in 1936 conceived the idea of a “blackout warden unit” that was later to become the Civil Defense Police and today the Marion County Auxiliary Police. The Fairmont Lions Club has also been active in promoting many other civic and cultural enterprises which we take for granted today.

In recent years, the club has sponsored high school students to leadership camps and seminars and sponsored the Lions Peace Poster Contest at West Fairmont Middle School, East Fairmont Junior High School and more recently Fairmont Catholic School. The Fairmont Lions began sponsorship of the Fairmont Christmas Parade in 2010 and organized the Marion County Chapter of Read Aloud WV providing for volunteer readers in elementary schools beginning in the Fall of 2014. As part of its continued support of the Read Aloud WV program, the club purchases books which are given to each student in several classes at Watson Elementary, where a club member reads to the classes weekly, during the school year.

Beginning in 1951, the Fairmont Lions Club members took to the streets selling brooms and mops manufactured by Industrious Blind Enterprises of Stonewood in order to assist that organization while raising funds for the club’s civic and charitable projects. Although that manufacturer is no longer in business, the club still sells brooms and mops as a part of its fundraising program.

Additional projects through the years (only a partial listing):

Staged play to raise funds for city playgrounds

Sponsored Rubinoff and his violin

Sponsored Helen Keller lecture

Sent School Safety Patrol to Washington, D.C.

Organized bicycle club for Fairmont

Entered float in the Forest Festival Parade

Provided transportation to blind persons to and from church

Provided radios to blind persons

Contributed to U.S.O.

Presented hospital with an iron lung and two respirators

Conducted clothing drive for needy

Purchased telebinocular and paid nurse to test eyes of school children

Provided playground equipment for park

Assisted in providing eye surgeries through WV Sight Foundation

Purchased eye equipment costing in excess of $20,000 for hospital

Sent students to Mountaineer Boys State and Rhododendron Girls State

Sent students to Hugh O'Brian Youth Seminar (HOBY)

Adopt-A-Trail Clean-up of Rail Trail throughout the trail-use season

Conducted vision screening in Child Development, Headstart, and Day Care facilities

New Lions clubs sponsored

1929 Farmington

1942 Rivesville

1945 Fairview

1945 Worthington

1945 Mannington

1957 Barrackville

1963 Idamay

1966 Union District

1971 Cross Roads

1972 Fairmont East

1974 Whitehall

1976 Bellview

1981 Indian Creek

1983 East Grafton Road

2003 South Marion Region

2013 Fairmont Campus - Branch

In addition, clubs sponsored by the Fairmont Lions Club have in turn sponsored a total of 18 more clubs and those clubs have sponsored at least six other clubs.

District Governors from Fairmont Lions Club

Charles S. Hoult (1941-42)

C. E. Queen (1961-62)

Charles R. King (1975-76)

H. Gerald Warren (1978-79)

Robert R. Moffett (2012-13)