End of an era

Published 3:38 pm Friday, June 26, 2020

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Columbus Lions Club to surrender charter June 30


The Columbus Lions Club soon will no longer exist. The remaining Lions have reluctantly voted to surrender their charter at the end of this Lions year, June 30, 2020.

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The last active charter member, Lion Frank Smith, died last year. The continued erosion of membership left the club too small to function, so the officers suggested that the club turn in its charter. The Saluda Lions quit first, then the venerable Tryon Lions aged out, leaving Columbus as the only club providing traditional Lion services to Polk County.

The Columbus Lions were organized November 11, 1968, chartered February 3, 1969 with 29 members. Several are still living, but have chosen not to serve as Lions.

The Lions took over the lighted Cross on Tryon Peak from the Jaycees and maintained it under Lion Jack Porter’s leadership until it was taken down and destroyed by Crown Communications when they bought the entire mountain top and its towers.

The original cross was mounted on the Fire Tower until protesters complained of a “religious symbol” on Government property. The owner of one of the new communication towers invited the Lions to put their cross on his tower. There were at least two iterations of new crosses, formed with 8-foot fluorescent fixtures, for a height of some 64 feet and width of about 30 feet.

For many years Lions picked up litter monthly on the roads leading into Columbus. We met for breakfast at Hardees with Lion Clare Laufer, who promised “entertainment afterward.” (Lions planted a tree in Stearns Park in memory of Clare.) Finally, we were too few and too old to continue, so Lion Chuck Trevathan moved that community service activity to the Democratic Party.

The Columbus Lions voted to accept women as Lions on Chuck’s watch as President; he later served as Treasurer for many years. The club flourished under the inspired leadership of its woman Presidents, starting with Louise Cochran and followed by Helen Trevathan Clement and Fran Goodwin.

Lion Davis Butts championed the Marjorie McCune Center, a Lions-owned assisted living facility in Black Mountain. Lion Butts had a drinking fountain built in Stearns Park as a memorial to his wife, Doris.

Lions Ed Weeks and Doug Stelle, as “shade tree mechanics,” kept the wheel chairs rolling for the medical equipment loan closet. Many Lions kept the service going for years, but we stopped when we felt that we could not properly clean and sanitize the dozens of wheel chairs and walkers.

Lion Garland Goodwin organized a “Celebrate Liberty” activity in which elected officials were invited to speak and hand out booklets containing the texts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to students in our public schools. We had to stop doing that when no one would pay for printing the little booklets.

When the Tryon Lions dissolved, they gave us half of the total cost (more than $7,500) of a SPOT camera for Vision Screening. This camera could record six parameters of vision defects in two seconds and give a printout for people to take to their vision professional for treatment. Clerk of Court Pam Hyder allowed us to use the hallway of the Court House on the Fourth of July. The camera was sold to another club when only a few people came in to be checked.

Our response to Helen Keller’s suggestion that Lions become “knights of the blind” was to offer payment for exams and glasses for people who could not afford them otherwise. Lion Evalynn Hyra administered that program. Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry will continue it indefinitely as we transferred funds remaining in our treasury to them for that purpose. Michelle Reedy will manage this fund.

Also part of this service to the community has been the recycling of used eyeglasses. The collection boxes were placed in area Post Offices. Now, your used eyeglasses may be deposited in Mill Spring or Columbus Post Offices or in the Landrum Lions permanent box on Rutherford Street in Landrum. Lion Bob Walker says if that box is full, just bring them to his insurance office around the corner.

A popular part of service to our VIPs (visually impaired persons) was a luncheon featuring entertainment; now home visits on birthdays and at Christmas. Lion Lisa Epley selected large bags of gifts and Lion Fran Goodwin cross-stitched little ornaments for their Christmas trees.

Lion Jim Clement was chair of the Lions activity most requested: broom sales. Lion Lee Berry was our Tail Twister. Lion Bonnie Wood reminded us of birthdays and anniversaries and got us together purely socially periodically.

Lion Jane Torres succeeded Fran Goodwin as President, Lion Helen Trevathan succeeded long-term Secretary Garland Goodwin, and Jo Ann Kearney succeeded Treasurer Mickey Brandstadter. Their final activity was closing the books.

As you can see by the above history, the Columbus Lions lived up to the Lions motto, “We Serve,” in many ways over the years. We appreciate the support of our District leaders, of local Lions who gave us about three years before moving on, and of the people in the communities we served.


Submitted by Lion Garland Goodwin