Harrisonville Lions Club celebrates 80th birthday

By Sheryl Stanley

Eighty years old and still going strong!

The Harrisonville Lions Club, one of our city’s stellar civic organizations, is celebrating its 80th birthday this year.

The club was chartered  May 11, 1938, with Jack McCue as the first president.

Throughout its years, the group has worked enthusiastically on programs to improve the quality of life in Harrisonville and Cass County.

They helped found chapters in neighboring cities such as Garden City, Lake Winnebago and Archie. They worked cooperatively with other chapters in Kansas City and the surrounding area to foster equal rights, justice and opportunity for all.

Three members, Jack McCue, Dan McGrew and Ray Riddle, became Lions International District Governors. McCue and McGrew also served terms as International Governors.

One of the biggest events in the club’s history occurred in 1951 when the Harrisonville Lions Club hosted Melvin Jones, the founder of Lions Club International, at their 30th anniversary dinner.

According to newspaper accounts, more than 250 guests were in attendance from Adrian, Urich, Garden City, Butler, Liberty, North Kansas City, Mound City, Windsor, Nevada, Kansas City, Carthage, Jefferson City, Independence and Louisburg, Kansas.

The dinner was served by the Harrisonville High School home economics class, musical entertainment was provided by WDAF-TV and the evening ended with round and square dancing.

Lions Club International has an overarching mission to prevent blindness and to preserve sight wherever and whenever possible.

The organization took up the cause in 1925 after the renowned Helen Keller challenged them to become “Knights of the Blind” and champion the cause of the visually impaired.

The Harrisonville Lions support state and national projects such as the Lions Club International Foundation, leader dogs for the blind and the Center for the Visually Impaired, among many others.

On a local level, the Harrisonville Lions provide eyeglasses to children in need and occasionally to adults.

They also work with the schools on several programs and provide achievement awards to qualifying graduates.

The club supports CASCO Area Workshop for adults with disabilities, Boys State and Girls State leadership training programs, the Library Summer Reading Program and the annual Shop with a Cop program.

Several fundraisers are held throughout the year to support club projects. These include a food booth at the Burnt District Festival and a corned beef and cabbage dinner in March.

Ultimately, though, a club will be known by the strength of its members, and the Harrisonville Lions Club has had a lion’s share of people with great spirit and heart serving their neighbors through the years.

Scan a roster of past and present members and recall the names of friends, past and present:  Jack McCue, Irvin Hershberger, Bill and Verda Day, Dr. Larry Snider, Ed Bohl, Bernie Bien, Helen Freidrich, Jerald Dickey, Everett Wilson and Shirley Howell.

These people and many others who embrace the Lions motto, “We Care,” have proven that men and women, working together as Lions, can accomplish far more for the community than would be possible working alone.

The Harrisonville Lions Club meets the first and third Thursday of each month at lunch.

Membership is open to both men and women. Anyone interested in joining can contact club president John Dritley at 816-887-0304, ext. 4251, or any active Lions Club member for more information.

But hurry, work on the next 80 years of service to Harrisonville has already begun.

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