History

The beginning

The Charles City Lions Club traces its beginning to May 3, 1921, when a group of local businessmen gathered in the Hotel Hildreth to meet with a fellow from Mason City by the name of Harry Tait. It was Tait’s intention to try and start up a Lions Club chapter in Charles City, and what he had to say must have done the trick because the 18 men who gathered to hear him that day plus an additional 7 men were to become charter members of the Charles City Lions Club. See the original charter with signatures. 

The new membership held its first office elections, with M.G. Smith being voted as the club’s first president. Dr. Wm. L. Griffin was selected as vice-president. Tom Weatherwax had the distinction of being the first member taken into the newly established Charles City Lions Club on May 20, 1921. Dues were set at $12 per quarter which included weekly meals.

 

Also that first year the Charles City Lions began the practice of awarding a scholarship medal to the valedictorian of the graduating class at the high school as well as playing the first Lions-Rotary baseball game beginning a combined aspect of service and entertainment between the two clubs that has lasted throughout the years.

Lions Field

In March, 1926, the Charles City Lions Club decided to buy the old fair grounds, located west of the city, to convert it into a park for the benefit of all in the community.

The International Lions advised the local club not to take such an expensive step. They said It would be an impossible project. But the Lions went ahead anyway and today Lion Field marks the biggest single achievement of the local club, a place where all may find recreation of one kind or another. The property was purchased for $20,000. The Lions of the time made an agreement with the owner to pay $1,000 a year over a period of 20 years. It actually took about 22 years, since only $500 could be paid during two years of the depression. To raise the yearly payments the club had dinners for which it charged 75 cents. Then a lunch worth 25 cents; a sandwich, cup of coffee, and pie – was served, for a net profit of 50 cents on a meal. The mortgage was paid off ‘in 1947. Read more in this 1943 article from the Charles City Press, and this 1953 article. In 1931 the club built the football field at Lion’s Field, complete with bleachers on both sides and rented it to the school for just $150, which didn’t even cover the insurance. Here is a Bird’s Eye View of Charles City Lions Field from 1939.

 

Founding Father come to Charles City

Lions founder Melvin Jones visited Charles City in 1951. In this picture he is arriving at Lions Field for the club’s 30th anniversary picnic in May, 1951.  Melvin Jones is credited for beginning the Lions Club, by asking and acting on this philosophy, “What if these men who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eye bank

In 1956 the Charles City Lions Club helped establish the Iowa Eye Bank in Iowa City in 1956. We Were one of the first Lions clubs to have an eye kit and work with the Iowa State Patrol in the eye donor program. We still have a kit here in town at the Floyd County Medical Center. Read more in this 1956 article from the Charles City Press. Two Lions also donated special typewriters to the Iowa Braille School and played a major role in helping to establish the Eye Rehabilitation Center in Des Moines.

To this day the Charles City Lions collect thousands of pairs of eye glasses for the poor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tornado

After the 1968 F5 tornado in Charles City the Lions Club purchased 400 trees which were given free to home owners in the tornado ravaged areas to help speed beautification of the area. Read more in this 1969 article from the Charles City Press

 

 

 

 

 

More

As Charles City progressed, the members of the Charles City Lions had a hand in many of the ventures. A complete Charles City Lions Club history was assembled in 1964.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today

The Lions continue to serve our community through funding projects and by initiating projects in the community. “We serve” is a montra that today’s Lions continue to represent. The Charles City Lions club is the communities longest continuously running service club and are celebrating 92 years of service to the Charles City area. We are the most technologically advanced service club in the community as well with a regularly updated local website and a twitter account.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information from the Floyd County Museum, Charles City Intelligencer & Charles City Press archives