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Our History

History of the Camden Lions Club



The following history of our Club is transcribed verbatim from a document initially issued on May 15, 1979 and amended in 1982, 1984, 1989 and 1995.

This History is Dedicated to Those Lions, Past and Present, Who Have Made This History Possible

1929 - 1979
Sponsored by the Rockland Lions Club, the Camden-Rockport Lions Club was chartered by International on August 14, 1929. There were 23 charter members, two of whom are still living though not now members. Albert Rhodes of Rockport and Francis Dow, formerly of Rockport and now of Kennebunk. The first president was Job Montgomery, who was the first of 50 past presidents as of June 30, 1979.

In 1953 the Camden-Rockport Club lost many of its members when it assisted Lions International in sponsoring and organizing a separate Lions Club in Rockport. At that time the name of the Camden-Rockport Club was changed to Camden Lions Club. Over the years the Camden Club has sponsored two other groups in Warren and Thomaston, with none of the three, we regret to say, now in existence.
Lions International has two words, We Serve, which are the keystone of every club’s existence. We feel that our Club, from its beginning, has not only adopted this motto but also has lived up to it. The next few paragraphs list a few of our many activities over the past half century which have benefited town and national organizations as well as individuals.

Camden Lions have contributed generously to the March of Dimes, Cancer Drive, Heart Fund, etc. during their annual drives; and at Thanksgiving and Christmas each year more than 100 baskets of food have been delivered to needy and deserving families. During the Depression of the early ‘30s in cooperation with the management of the old Camden Theater we ran an annual Christmas Show, with the price of admission ranging from a can of vegetables to a half-ton of coal, all of which was delivered before Christmas to those in need.

Special attention has been given to boys’ and girls’ activities including contributions to YMCA basketball and swim teams, Boy and Girl Scouts, scholarships at graduation, sending a boy to Dirigo Boys State, and the sponsoring of a Little League Lions team. And it is pleasant to note that this year, 1979, marks the 36th consecutive year of awarding US Savings Bonds to the three top winners of the 4-H Club annual projects in Knox and Lincoln Counties. The winners, their parents and leaders have also been our guests at meetings.
 
With the preservation of sight a Lions International goal, our Club has sponsored many glaucoma clinics, and are affiliated with Maine Sight, a District project including most of Maine’s 90 Lions Clubs. Acting as headquarters for District 41, for many years we have collected, packed, and shipped used eye glasses to Lions Clubs in foreign counties and to other organizations which specialize in distributing glasses to those in need. In just one of the shipments over 15,000 pairs of eye glasses and frames were counted. Past Presidents William Whitelaw, now deceased, and PDG Edgar Tepe have undertaken much of the work and responsibility in this effort. Many deserving adults and children have also received eye examinations and glasses at the local level.

Destitute people and the victims of catastrophe wherever located have been assisted by the Lions International Fund and by contributions to CARE, both receiving funds from the local club. On one occasion the Camden Lions turned out to build a small house, then presented the property and keys to a deserving family. The Camden Community Hospital and Health Care Center has also been the recipient of the Club’s assistance.

The annual Bazaar, this year our 44th, started in 1934 as a Food Fair featuring bingo and games of chance. It was originally held in the Opera House. Because of its growing success the event has been held several years now in the C-R H. S. gym during the spring vacation week. Usually held in April, the Bazaar has easily become the number one activity for raising money for charitable purposes. Townspeople and those in surrounding communities have generously donated all kinds of items to the Bazaar thus assuring contributions to the club’s many charities. A very successful auction has recently been part a part of the action, and it is expected that this feature will continue to be used in future Bazaars and special events.  Proceeds have averaged $2,000 annually for the past few years, with surplus materials given to organizations like the Salvation Army which has received literally tons of useful clothing.

As this history is being written near the close of the 50th year, our roster reads a total of 42 members, including three privileged members and five members-at-large. The records of the historian list 324 former Lions, with over 100 of these now deceased, who have been affiliated with the Camden Lions Club from 1929 to 1979. Lion William Chater is now the oldest Camden Lion in both length of membership and in age since the loss in March, 1975 of Past President Leon Crockett at age 92, who served also as historian and Cabinet sec.-treas. Under Bill Kelley when he was District Governor. At least ten Lion fathers have had sons belonging to Camden Lions, one, Gilbert Laite, Sr., having had no fewer than four sons and one brother as members.

The Camden Club has been honored over the years with the election of three District Governors: George W. Dyer, William P. Kelley, and Edgar R. Tepe. In addition many members have served the present District 41-I as Zone Chairman or Deputy District Governor. With the Rockland Club we have co-hosted the Lions of Multiple District 41 at conventions held in the old Samoset Hotel. We have also enjoyed Father-and-Son and Father-and–Daughter nights as well as joint meetings with our Rotarian friends, and experienced friendly rivalries in various contests with the Belfast and Rockland Lions Clubs. The Camden group is high in the standings in yearly visitation and efficiency contests within the district as well. For the past 33 years since 1946, when Lion Bill Kelley was serving as District Governor, the Camden Club has deemed it a privilege and pleasure to have had the newest elected district governor a guest at its first meeting of the year in September, thus becoming the first club each year to start him off on his round of official visits.

For a time our Club was the only one in Maine to sport a club banner. This banner was green with gold tassels and a background of the State of Maine imprinted with “THE LIONS OF CAMDEN, MAINE, DISTRICT 41-I.”  It had a green pine tree, a red lobster, and the Lions’ emblem all in appropriate places. It was well received wherever shown or traded for another club’s banner, as was a Camden pin of the same design. An item in the Club’s records shows that one of our members, PDG William Kelley, was awarded high honors in the presentation of his fourth key, the GRANDMASTER KEY, for bringing in a total of 50 new Lions to the Camden Lions Club since becoming a member in 1934. Past District Governor Bill also wears a 44-year perfect attendance pin.

The principal meeting places over the half century have been Wadsworth Inn, Union St; Congregational Church Parish House (now Prince’s, Inc.); the new Congregational Church Parish House; Green Gables Inn; and the present Cedar Crest Coffee Shop. Until recently the club met each Tuesday night; and for most of 25 years the meal cost the members $1.00, 90 (cents) of which went to the caterer and 10 cents to the club treasury. A problem of the club has been meal expense, now $4.75 a member. In an attempt to solve the difficulty of raising costs, the club has changed locations and caterers and reduced meetings to twice a month.

Caterers for much of the time have been Mrs. John Wadsworth, Erma Wadsworth, and Mrs. Dwight French.  The pianist for many years was Lion Everett Grieve, who was received into membership a few years before he died “in the harness” so to speak, while playing with his orchestra, “The Old New Englanders”, at a Lions Ladies’ night dance. Well known and publicized in District 41 as a “Singing Club” we still have plenty of song leaders despite a need of both a piano and a player.

The Club bulletin, The Sea Lion Roars, is the brain child of Past District Governors Ed Tepe and Bill Kelley, who edit and produce it twice monthly. The 2-page purple-and-gold bulletin is now in its 19th year—over 350 issues to date. Its aim is to keep all members informed. Regular items include “Dates to Remember”; “Birthdays and Anniversaries”; “Presidents Message”; “Personals”; “Reports of Directors’ Meetings”; “Club Activities”; “District News”; “Excerpts from D.G. Newsletters”; “Treasurer’s Report”; “Program for Next Meeting” and notices for our Auxiliary.

The Sea Lion Roars commenced its continuous existence in the Fall of 1960. Your historian has a copy of each of the issues. A few issues were published in 1946 with Lion P. Pres. Vernon Packard, Editor; also in the Fall of 1953, with Frank Leonard, Editor. These copies are also on file.

Our narrative would not be complete without mention of the DANDYLIONS, the Auxiliary organized by our wives in 1935 to assist the LIONS. They have a history of their own of serving the Community, and within six years will be observing their 50th. Their president was Mildred Rhodes, and two of the Charter members, Elsie Tedford and Peg Kelley, both Past Presidents, are still active.

Five anniversaries have been observed by the club; the 25th held at the Samoset in 1954, James Johnson, Pres.; the 30th at Portlaw Inn, Camden, in 1959, Lester Gross, Pres.; the 40th at General Knox Hotel, Thomaston, in 1969, Ervin Ross, Pres.; and the latest in 1974, the 45th at Whitehall Inn, Gilbert Hall, Pres.  And now, in the spring of this our 50th year, Camden Lions have taken on an ambitious project. We are determined to have a meeting place of our own, and with that in mind have purchased a large building formerly housing heavy machinery, with the object of using it for our activities, auctions, and various other projects in conjunction with the usual C-R Gym Bazaar for raising money for our Charity and Civic Fund. Also plans are being made to erect on this property a building suitable for the meeting place mentioned above.

Committees for planning, purchasing, and financing were named by Pres. Cliff Cameron, and we are hopeful that the work, much of which is slated to be done by competent fellow Lions in their spare moments, may be completed in time for our Fall meeting. This will be the greatest challenge in our 50-year existence and will require the assistance and dedicated effort of every single Lion. Especially does the Club believe this move to be necessary at this time, since for the past 20 years the problem of a meeting place and of the expense of the meals has been a serious threat to our treasury and our pocketbooks and, we believe, has led to an attendance problem and a drop in membership.
 
William P. Kelley, PDG
Lions Historian
May 15, 1979
 
1979 - 1982
Following the publication of our 1979 Golden Year booklet giving the history of the Camden Lions Club from birth to our 50th year have come three vital years of activity for this club. Finishing the first 50 in a “blaze of glory”, we continue on a high level and could call these past three years “a dream come true”. We spent part of that time building our Anniversary Project, the new Lions Clubhouse, while still giving our every effort to both old and new work projects for raising funds. We feel this building is absolutely necessary for the good of the club for meetings and meals.
 
The building was planned and furnished by committees named by PKL Cliff Cameron, and work was carried out and completed under the very able leadership of successive PKLs Bill Easton and Roy Taggart with countless work parties of dedicated members. The Club is fortunate in also having PKL Stu Martin and the present King Lion Bill Kelley taking over and giving their time and attention to keeping the club on an even keel.

​We have enjoyed the Clubhouse now for two years for meals and meetings as well as projects and are beginning to wonder how we ever did without. The whole community is richer for its being. The building was dedicated September 13, 1980 and honored PDG Bill Kelley by naming it the “William P. Kelley Clubhouse”.

The meals question for the new home was solved by appointing committees of three for each meeting night of the year to be responsible for one night every six months. The result: less cost to members, fine home-cooked food, variety (and usually seconds), very satisfactory!

Our activities continue; used eye glasses from the clubs in our district are collected, packed and shipped for the needy overseas; our Bazaar, our 48th this year, is still going strong and in addition a Mini-Bazaar (Barn Sale) at our headquarters is held once a month in season. For the past two years we have sponsored, along with the Dandylions, a Hobby and Miniature Show for two days at the high school gymnasium. And of course, sale of Halloween candy and various raffles keep us occupied. We don’t have any trouble spending the profits on our eye projects, boys’ and girls’ scholastic and summer projects of all kinds, plus the usual national and community needs.

The Sea Lion Roars continues its twice a month publication, thanks largely to PDG Ed Tepe. It’s on its 22nd year and is practically indispensable to the Club.

One event coming on top of another, there has been no time to clean up the storage barn for good use for the Mini-Bazaars. That, plus the usual projects of the Fall season, should keep us busy this winter.
 
William P. Kelley, PDG
Camden Lions Historian

1983 - 1984
 This is a continuation of our Club History, which is consolidated from one written by PDG Edgar R. Tepe, Secretary, at the end of 1984.

Among the many projects held by the Club during this period were – “Chemical Free Graduation” donations, erection of the Christmas Star on Mt. Battie and seeing that it was lighted every night from Thanksgiving to New Years, donations to various local, state and national requests. Thanksgiving and Christmas Baskets to our needy in our area, Fish Chowder Suppers, drivers to take out patients of the Camden Health Care Center during summer and fall, annual Spring Bazaar and Mini Barn Sales during the summer months, and selling five summer cottages donated to us. Lest we forget, our on-going sales of U.S. Flags and State Flags through the cooperation of Lion William Brawn.

In adding up our various money-raising projects and spending projects, we come up with the following figures for this 2-year span:
Fund Raising — $14,969.95
Donations Etc. — $ 5,155.63

We also donated scholarships to the graduating seniors, packed and shipped close to 19,000 pair of used eye glasses, approximately 20 lbs. of used postage stamps and donated items from our store of rummage items to help those in need.

We started 1983 with 39 members, added 5 new and 2 transfer members in 1984, bringing our membership to 46. Not very many visitations were made but we did attend all Cabinet and Zone meetings with representation at Multiple Dist. 41 Conventions at Bangor and Halifax, N.S.
Our Bulletin, The Sea Lion Roars, now in its 24th year, 483 issues, under the Co-Editorship of PDG Edgar R. Tepe, is still going strong. Programs, under the capable chairmanship of Lion Gilbert Hall, have been excellent and interesting. We are still operating our meals on a 3-man committee for each meeting with excellent meals at a very reasonable price.

Our Ladies Auxiliary, “The Dandylions”, now 50 years old, is still operating at a profit and helping the Lions with both help and money. They have their own projects and ear money to operate them under their own projects.

In 1984 we issued our 55th Anniversary pin, commemorating the Windjammer trade in Camden.
We started a new administrative project called “Bottles and Cans” under the chairmanship of Lion William J. Kelly. All members bring in their empty soda bottles and cans for redemption of the deposits.  This money is used to pay for the fuel oil to heat the Clubhouse. Our profit on this “Bottle and Can” project is approximately $500.00 per year. The excess on this project goes into the Administration account and also helps pay for other items the club needs, such as electricity, water, etc.
 
Edgar T. Tepe PDG
Secretary

1985 - 1989
We started off the year of 1985 with the resignations of two members: namely Rev. Paul Marshall and Stanley Sproul, and Charles MacKenzie in June. We brought in 7 new members during this time, bringing our membership up to 49.

We held our usual projects in addition to Speak-Out Contests, collections for LCIF and “Pennies-for-Diabetes” and “Bottle & Can” collections. Our visitations increased slightly during 1985 with the following years increasing even more. During the year of 1988/1989, under the chairmanship of Lion Richard Rodrigue, and being pushed by President David Dodd, we really went all out and won the District Visitation Contest for clubs with membership between 30 and 50 members. It was a nip-and-tuck contest with Manchester Lions, but we came away with the award at the 4th Cabinet Meeting at Ellsworth, April 23, 1989.

We held the usual projects such as our Mini-Barn Sales (2 per month during June-September 1985 and future years). Our Annual Bazaars and Auctions during June of each year at the Barn, instead of carting everything to the High School Gym and then bringing what was left back to the barn.
During 1988 the Lions Clubs of Maine were fortunate in making an agreement with the Central Maine Power Co. to secure free light bulbs to help their many civic projects. It also helped CMP to save on producing electricity since the bulbs were a type that used less current and lasted many times longer. The Camden Lions took 300 cases of these bulbs and netted $4,500.00 in a little over a month. A six-pack of assorted bulbs (valued at $18.00) was sold at $5.00 per pack, the stipulated price by CMP. With this windfall we were able to give the Camden Health Care Center $1,000.00 for VCR equipment they wanted. We were also able to give $1,500.00 to the Mid-Coast Children’s Service, Rockland, with appropriate publicity for both presentations.

At the presentation of the $1,000.00 to Camden Health Care Center, a group photograph was taken by professional photographer, Mark Haskell. Only half of the Club showed for this picture, so individual groups are being taken of the balance of the Club so that all members’ pictures will be on display at the Clubhouse for 1988.

We are continuing with our usual good money raising projects and looking forward to new ones for the future.  We are going to have a workparty to put the finishing touches to the interior of the clubhouse on May 13, 1989, and hope this will be well attended. At the writing of this final chapter of our 60 years of history, we have a total membership of 44, bringing in our newest member Lion Norman Trouw during 1989. He was sponsored by Lion C. Ervin Ross, his first new member as a Lion of over 38 years.
During 1988 a fund was started by the members to make it possible to list all Past Presidents and their years as President on two plaques, which are hanging on the wall of the Clubhouse. PDG Edgar R. Tepe started a project of swapping a 2’ x 4’ Maine flag for Provincial flags from the Atlantic Provinces of Multiple District 41. At the time of this writing, we have the flags from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.  We have hopes of securing one from Prince Edward Island shortly. We also have a Canadian flag given to us by a club from Newfoundland, for which we sent a U.S. flag in exchange. All flags are hanging at the head of the Clubhouse wall.

During installation of Club Officers/Directors for 1989-1990, we anticipate burning our mortgage of a little over $4,000.00. This will end one era and possibly start a new era of expansion.
We have a new trading pin for our 60th Anniversary which will be another one of our many trading pins to come. This one commemorates the Snow Bowl in Camden. The “Dandylions” are having a new trading pin made also for their upcoming “Dolls, Dollhouses and Miniature Show” in October, 1989.
Our Club Bulletin is still going strong, now up to its 29th year and 586 issues, under the capable leadership of Co-Editor PDG Edgar R. Tepe. May it continue indefinitely.

With the quote of PDG William P. Kelley in closing our first part of this history—“We hope to continue to live up to our Lions Motto, “WE SERVE”—we close this 60 years of history.
 
Edgar R. Tepe PDG
Secretary
William P. Kelley  PDG
 
 
1990/1995
Since our 60th Anniversary, we have held the following Installations at The Sail Loft Restaurant, Rockport (6/18/91), The Haven Restaurant, Rockport (6/15/92), Cappy’s Chowder House, Camden (6/15/93), and our 65th Anniversary at the Lobster Pound Restaurant, Lincolnville Beach (6/21/94). Our program for the 65th Anniversary showed six officers of the 1930-1931 Lions Year, together with a list of the Charter Members as of June 29, 1929. Also listed were all presidents from 1929 to 1995, together with members and spouses for the year of 1994.
1989/90 was a banner year with the Club winning the District Visitation Contest for clubs with 30/50 members.  Also PDG Edgar R. Tepe was presented the Lions Int’l. “Leadership Award” at the Sub-District Convention in Ellsworth, Me.
Held the usual projects during 1989-90 with receipts of $597.00 (Mini-Barn Sales), $2000.00 (CMP Light Bulb Sales), $2215.00 (Dollhouse/Miniature Show), $1507.00 (Annual Bazaar), $3281.00 (Flag Sales) and donations to Cub Scouts Pack #100 - $100.00, Thanksgiving Baskets - $326.00, $773.00 for Xmas Baskets Town reimbursed us for $700.00, Freedom Riders - $100.00, $150.00 to Dirigo Boys State, Blind Bowlers – District 41-I - $100.00, Mid Coast Childrens Service - $1500.00, LCIF - $488.00, Pennies for Diabetes - $33.00, Chemical Awareness Substance Use Team (CAST) - $200.00, Camden Little League - $300.00, March of Dimes - $150.00, Bicycle Safety Program - $150.00, C/R High School “Project Graduation” - $100.00 and Scholarships - $1500.00.
Our other donations for the years 1990 to 1995 were to the Snow Bowl from the Chili/Chowder Challenge; to the Camden Congregational Church in memory of PDG William P. Kelley, who died Aug. 18, 1990; Thanksgiving and Xmas Baskets each year; Christmas Star each year; together with the usual donations to local charities.
We handled the usual projects, such as flag sales, packing eyeglasses, collecting empty bottles & cans, collected for American Diabetes Assoc., drivers for patients of CHCC, Lions Mint sales, and Chili/Chowder Challenges. Also put U.S. Flags up on Main/Elm Streets for each legal holiday. We have participated in all Doll, Dollhouse & Miniature Shows with the Dandylions each year.
For further projects and receipts it will be necessary to read all the M&A Report made by Secty. Edgar R. Tepe to International.
Our membership has increased to 49 members with the addition of 4 new Lions end of 1994/Jan. 1995. The breakdown as of Jan. 1995 is 39 Active, 8 Members-at-Large and 2 Privileged. Percentage of monthly attendance is about 60/65 percent of Active members.
Our Bulletin – The Sea Lion Roars – is still going strong under the leadership of Editor Edgar R. Tepe, PDG.  It is now into Volume #69 (2 volumes each year) with 723 issues since being started in the Fall of 1960 under the direction of Editors William P. Kelley and Edgar R. Tepe.
We hope to get the “Community Birthday Calendar” project off the ground shortly with calendars for July 1995 to June 1996. This is a new project for the club, with Lion Jerry Stone as Chairman. We also hope to start some new projects to raise money within the next year. We have printed a Lions Information folder to secure new interested members and have placed copies in the Chamber of Commerce Office, Town Office, and “The Friendly Folks” (Welcome Wagon) to get our name before new residents in Camden/Rockport/Lincolnville.
Let us hope that by our 70th Anniversary we will be a stronger Club and doing many more things to help the less fortunate.
We sponsored a new Lions Club in Moscow, Russia, in January 1993, which was our first venture in foreign affairs. Their name is “Moscow/Moscovites”.
PDG Edgar R. Tepe was also honored by the Club with a Melvin Jones Fellowship Award on April 6, 1992, during this period of history. It was spearheaded by Past President Robert Pearson, and PDG Edgar wishes to thank him and all members of the Camden Lions Club for this honor.
It is hoped that I will be around when the next five-year history is written.
 
Edgar R. Tepe, PDG
Secretary
​Camden Lions Club