Seventy-five years ago, a group of Montgomery leaders got together and became the charter members of the city’s Lions Club. Over the years the number of members in the club has ebbed and flowed — growing in prosperous times, and shrinking in times of a tougher economy, as people move into and then away from the area. Also, like most other service organizations, the local Lions Club is affected by the graying of West Virginia.

One thing has not changed, however, and that’s the members’ dedication to the club’s philanthropies.

Although only a dozen members strong as of the club’s 75th anniversary celebration last week, the Montgomery Lions Club is comprised of a group of committed individuals who have come together to form a club that is a benefit to the area.

For example, 25 city residents who could not have enjoyed the benefits of improved sight on their own, have been provided eyeglasses just this year by members of the Montgomery club, according to President James Ford. “This is an important project for us,” Ford said, pointing out that sight conservation programs are the primary projects for Lions clubs internationally.

The local club also is strongly committed, Ford said, to the local Robert Jackson Christmas Cheer program.

“We are heavily involved in the Robert Jackson Christmas Cheer program. Bob Jackson was a member of the Lions Club when he started (the program),” Ford said. “I remember back years ago when we’d all go stand in front of Murphy’s and ring our bells for donations.

“Then when (Bob) was ill, he asked Leon Newman, who is our current vice president, to please carry on with that program, and he’s just done a great job. All of our members are deeply, deeply committed to that program.”

That commitment and service was celebrated Nov. 17 with a 75th anniversary banquet at the Montgomery Baptist Church.

Lions Club members attended the banquet from several clubs in the area, including Pratt-Hansford, Gauley Bridge, Oak Hill, Mount Hope, and Beckley, as well as Floyd McClung, who attended representing the Mint Hill (N.C.) Lions Club. Guests also were in attendance from the Montgomery area.

Gene Hess, a member of the Montgomery Lions Club, presented the club’s history, and Lion Pat Puttaiah made personal remarks prior to a candlelighting service to memorialize the lives of deceased members.

Past District Governor Norville Ellison, a member of the Mount Hope Lions Club, was the guest speaker.

Members of the local club are Ford, president; Newman, vice president; Snookie Hess, treasurer; Dosha White, secretary; and Gene Hess, tail twister. Directors are Pat Puttaiah, Gene Hess and Bobby Zickefoose. Other Lions are Arthur Burnell, Lillian Goodson, Velma Newman, Kathy Thomas, and Kathy Wickline.

Membership in Lions clubs is by invitation, but anyone who would like to learn more about Lionism is invited to speak with any member of the Montgomery club.

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