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Lincolnton Lions Club members look back on 55 years

Lincolnton Lions Club members celebrated 55 years of service at a banquet held Tuesday night.
“It’s good to look back to where you’ve come from, and then you can look forward to where you’re going,” said Bob Spencer, a Lions Club member.
The event, which was held at First Presbyterian Church in Lincolnton, included dinner, singing (“I’d rather belong to the Lions Club than any club I know”) and speakers.
Jimmy Bowers, a long-time Lions Club member, gave a brief history of the organization, which was founded Dec. 14, 1950.
He discussed the Lions’ history of service — raising money for people in need whether they be blind, deaf, poor or afflicted with cancer.
During 55 years, many fund raisers were held. Some were beauty pageants (one had 450 women entered), others were fruit cake sales. The broom sales, which still take place today, date back decades.
Being a Lion, however, isn’t all about raising money.
“They also had fun,” said Bowers. “They had fish fries and cook outs.”
Many years ago, the Lions Club also put on annual Winter Balls, which were elegant occasions.
“It was one of the most sought after invitations in this city,” Bowers said.
His recounting of the Lions Club past may have struck a chord with many of its long-time members.
Bill Earnhardt, who is a member of the Mooresville Lions Club, was even present at the Lincolnton Lions Club Charter Night Banquet held March 1, 1951.
Songs were sung, baked ham was served and visitors and guests were given “a most hearty and ‘Roaring’ welcome.” At least that’s what the original program said.
With 55 years between that night and Tuesday, Earnhardt couldn’t remember details. What he does remember, however, is how dedicated Lions were to service. It’s something he believes has remained true.
“Lions still do a lot of good,” he said.
Even so, several members expressed concern about depleting membership in the Lions Club.
At one time there were 15,000 Lions in the state of North Carolina. Now there are fewer than 1,000, said Earnhardt. He has a theory on why that is.
“Unfortunately, all civic organizations have been making a decline as far as members,” said Earnhardt. “In my opinion, people today do not want to be committed to anything.”
Mike Muholland, the club’s president, believes membership will grow with active recruiting.
“It’s our responsibility as Lions to ask people to join so we will be here for 55 more years,” he said.
The night’s main speaker, Sid Scrugg, past international president for the Lions Club, agreed. He noted a lack of youth in the club’s membership.
“I’m a Lion, and you’re a Lion, and we take time to help those in need,” he said. “We need to share that with the generation that has been missing.”
by Sarah Grano

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