1928 - 2018

90 Years of Excellence

Westerville felt the stirring and activities of growth during the 1920's and with it economic vigor and prosperity. On October 1, 1928 “Silent Cal” occupied the White House. Herbert Hoover and the “Happy Warrior” Al Smith were campaigning for the Nation’s highest office.

The time was right for the formation of an organization whose interest was the betterment of the community as a whole. When a group of Columbus Lions, headed by Horace Kerr, brought an invitation to form a Westerville luncheon-service club, community leaders felt its appeal and challenge. On October 1, 1928, the Westerville Lions Club sounded its first roar. Mr. Kerr, a member of the International Board of Directors, spoke at that first meeting of the new born club. He outlined the principles of Lionism and concluded with “….one of the cardinal points of Lionism is the cultivation of a spirit of genuine brotherhood among men.”

Lionism itself was young. Only eleven years before a group of independent clubs responded to an ideal presented to them by a young Chicago insurance agent, Melvin Jones. This ideal was that of service to their fellow men and women without regard to politics, religion, race or personal gain. A conference was called of some 25 independent clubs on June 17, 1917. From this meeting the organization was born, being chartered in October of that same year. In 1920, Lionism became international with the chartering of two clubs in Canada. By 1928, clubs had also been chartered in China, Mexico, and Cuba.

In 1925, at its International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, Lionism was challenged by speaker, Helen Keller to become the “Knights of the Blind”. Lions responded! From that time, sight conservation, eye research, and work with the blind have been the major service of the organization.

On the evening of December 6, 1928, the Westerville Lions Club was officially chartered. The thirty-five men who gathered in the Crystal Room in the new Williams Grill were a diverse group. The club began meeting every Thursday at noon under the guidance of its first President, -Harry T. Hance of Hance Manufacturing Co.

2002 Past President's Night

"Knights of The Blind"

The membership included representative leaders from business, the professions of the village, and from the college campus. Although little was said of this unity of town and gown, it was certainly significant. For years there had been a bit of strain between the two groups. As Lions, however, they sat down together to eat and discuss their common community problems. Later events proved just how significant that unity was.

As of October 1, 1928, Westerville was enjoying a comfortable prosperity and confidence in the future. Even after that dreadful, fateful, “Black Friday” in 1929, Westerville appeared undisturbed.

Then came November 25, 1931 – two days before Thanksgiving -- when the Bank of Westerville did not open its door. Its operation had been taken over by the State Superintendent of Banks.

No one who has not lived through such an ordeal can possibly appreciate the utterly overwhelming economic paralysis that afflicts a community whose only bank has been compelled to close.

The relatively new Lions Club with its strong leadership met the crisis head on. The people hurt – and there were many – by the bank’s failure, were bitter and looked for someone to blame for the mismanagement of the bank’s assets. Lions realized that to be critical would not solve the problems of the community.

Some of the finest of the Lion leaders, W. B. Johnston, Wilson Cellars, and others, tried various methods to allow the Bank of Westerville to reopen, but were unsuccessful.

Then, with the Lion Club backing, a community meeting was called in the high school building. That evening a unique brain-child was born, the “Iron Bank”, a device which temporarily filled the banking void in Westerville.

Finally, with faith and confidence, Lion leaders courageously solicited sufficient funds to open a new bank, aptly named the Citizens Bank. Many of the new stockholders could afford only to buy one or two shares. Hard work and personal sacrifice united the community and it moved ahead to better living.

The depression period of 1931-35 saw personal suffering in the village. Families were hungry; children needed clothing and shoes for school. But, the need that touched the hearts of Lions most was that children who needed glasses which their parents had no money to buy.

2002-2003 Lion Members
Westerville Lions Club
Past Presidents

  • 1928-29 Harry Hance
  • 1929-30 Horace W. Troop
  • 1930-31 W.B. Johnston
  • 1931-32 Howard W. Elliott
  • 1932-33 R.F. Martin
  • 1933-34 Clarence F. Williams
  • 1934-35 Howard McClaren
  • 1935-36 Ralph R. Miller
  • 1936-37 I.B. Hanover
  • 1937-38 Boyd P. Doty
  • 1938-39 Reed S. Johnston
  • 1939-40 W.O. Clark
  • 1940-41 J. Harold Wenger
  • 1941-42 Charles R. Bennett
  • 1942-43 Waldo Eliott
  • 1943-44 Wayne E. Wolfe
  • 1944-45 E.E. Reese
  • 1945-46 H. Clay Scott
  • 1946-47 Ross W. Shoemaker
  • 1947-48 Walter R. Bailey
  • 1948-49 Merrill Z. Conn
  • 1949-50 Floyd J. Vance
  • 1950-51 Edwin A. Walker
  • 1951-52 Willard P. Talbott
  • 1952-53 Carl H. Bendow
  • 1953-54 Harold L. McMillan
  • 1954-55 Harry O. Weaston
  • 1955-56 Roy E. Metz
  • 1956-57 Norman H. Dohn
  • 1957-58 L.C. Cole
  • 1958-59 R.F. Martin
  • 1959-60 V.F. Patterson
  • 1960-61 Robert Daugherty
  • 1961-62 Wilbur Franklin (PDG)
  • 1962-63 Kenneth Moreland
  • 1963-64 John A. Morgan
  • 1964-65 Eugene Anderson
  • 1965-66 Virgil Raver
  • 1966-67 Roger Moore
  • 1967-68 M. Ray Morris
  • 1968-69 Ralph W. Roll
  • 1969-70 Terrence W. Day
  • 1970-71 Ned E. Mosher
  • 1971-72 C.E. Bischoff
  • 1972-73 Eugene G. Moor
  • 1973-74 Chester Turner
  • 1974-75 John Campbell
  • 1975-76 Glenn Griffith
  • 1976-77 Roger Deibel
  • 1977-78 William Arbogast
  • 1978-79 Ross Day
  • 1979-80 Neil Andrew (PDG)
  • 1980-81 Len Myers (PDG)
  • 1981-82 Merrill L. Castle
  • 1982-83 Jerome Cavinee
  • 1983-84 John Parrish
  • 1984-85 Kenneth Cole, Jr.
  • 1985-86 Donald Moninger
  • 1986-87 Gary D. Bix
  • 1987-88 Stephen A. Miller
  • 1988-89 Donald Kerr
  • 1989-90 William Bretthauer
  • 1990-91 Jeff Pruzan
  • 1991-92 Doug Reed
  • 1992-93 Larry Allen
  • 1993-94 Jim Casto
  • 1994-95 Luke Sutherland
  • 1995-96 Jim Shively
  • 1996-97 David Bergman
  • 1997-98 Elizabeth Dusenbury
  • 1998-99 Nur Hussen
  • 1999-00 William M. Riggs, Jr. (PDG)
  • 2000-01 Kingston Malley
  • 2001-02 Stephen A. Miller
  • 2002-03 Scott Robinson
  • 2003-04 Robert Holmes
  • 2004-05 Kerry Robinson
  • 2005-06 Tom White
  • 2006-07 Hank Stonerook
  • 2007-08 Don Niebling
  • 2008-09 Don Mullen
  • 2009-10 Jim Shively
  • 2010-11 A.J. Westlund
  • 2011-12 Forrest Hoppe
  • 2012-13 Elizabeth Dusenbury
  • 2013-14 Donna Saylor
  • 2014-15 Dale Hartman
  • 2015-16 Aimee Westlund
  • 2016-17 Howard Baum
  • 2017-18 Howard Baum
  • 2018-19 Gary Bix (Interim)

Our champion tail-twister, Howard Elliott, who could extract a dime – when dimes were real money – and make you like it, applied his art skillfully and in good humor at every meeting, raising a surprising amount of money.

One Christmas in the early thirties, the club enlisted the help of the local volunteer Fire Department in collecting, restoring, and distributing used toys. The firemen, headed by Chief Walter Schick, an artist with a paint brush, made hearts of many kids glad. Also, In a September 3, 1931 letter, written by Lions founder Melvin Jones, the club was commended for such community service as the construction of cabin for the Boy Scouts, the sponsoring of a motion picture show with proceeds going to the needy, hosting local school teachers, and visiting and contributing to the “Home for the Aged and Infirm Deaf”.

The lions were for many years known as a “hip pocket” club. The meetings were relaxed and at times hilarious, due largely to Tail-Twister Howard Elliott. As Ross Shoemaker tells it: “Lion Howard was on his feet in a split second assessing fines on most any pretext; A missing Lions pin was automatically ten cents; Mention of your business or profession was a quarter; One time, Lion Henry Scatterday was late to dinner and the Tail-Twister assigned Henry to tell a story with the admonition that it be ‘a good one.’ The doctor responded with a dramatic thriller which blew up into nothing, leaving the Lions hanging in the air and the good doctor fine less.”

An early service project described by Ross Shoemaker was the purchase of small pocket Braille writers which were presented to blind members of the Central College home. The club presented these at a meeting and it was gratifying to see the recipients take the instruments and, after little experimentation, punch out a tape message. They “had a ball” exchanging communications with each other.

During the 1940’s, the club changed from a luncheon club to a dinner club, and soon changed from a hip pocket club to a service project one.

By the early 50’s, the club began its chicken barbeque to raise funds for community service. The barbeque was held for a number of years at Yarnell’s Party House and, from the outset, it was an outstanding success. It served as a happy, unifying force in the community, raising funds for service. In any year, from $1,500 to $3,000 has been given to such worthy causes as Ohio Eye Research, Pilot Dogs, Ohio Lions Eye Bank, eye examinations, glasses, scholarships, Boys and Girls State, etc.

The 1960’s saw this continuation of service to the community. As Past President Moore reports, “our barbeque was one of the most successful in 19966-67, with over 2400 meals served.” In that same year, Westerville Lions helped out “Dick” Bryan to the Third Vice-Presidency of the International Lions Club and Lion Roger Moore helped celebrate the Golden Anniversary of Lionism at the Chicago Convention. Also, the Light Bulb Sale was introduced in the 1960’s, the White Cane Sale in the 1970’s, and the Winter Madness Road Run in the 1980’s.

Until 1959, the Westerville Lions Club was the only service club in the community. That year the Rotarians were organized. Since then, the Kiwanis, Sertoma, and other service oriented clubs have been formed. The Lions have done their part here too. In 1977, the Westerville Lions sponsored the Westerville Lioness Club. In 1983, the club sponsored Westerville’s second Lions Club - the Westerville Sunrise Lions.

Westerville Lions celebrated our “fortieth” when Ralph Roll was President. Walter Whetzel, originally sponsored by Ross Shoemaker, insisted that we should have a “proper affair” and it was. Lion Walter, although not of the up front type, served as Secretary of the club for many years. Among the other quiet stalwarts of the club was G. C. Brown, who for twenty-five years, published the Westerville Lions Tracks.

The Westerville Lions Club has had its share of distinguished members, past and present, The club’s first President (1928-1929) Harry Horace; the club’s second President (1929-1930) Judge Horace W. Troop, active for more than thirty years, and in 1981, the last charter member to pass away; R.F. Martin, then the club’s only “two term” President, serving his two terms more than a quarter century apart; “Legendary” Tail-Twister Howard Elliott. Lion Howard, President (1931-1932) and Tail-Twister for more than thirty years, had numerous ways to extract dimes and quarters from his victims. Dr. E. E. Reese, who served as President, Secretary and, for many years, Sight Saving Chairman. He examined many adults and children without charge during his more than thirty years as a Lion; Walter Wetzal, who served as Secretary for twenty years; W. R. “Tillie” Franklin, President (1961-1962), District Governor (1965-1966), Presidential Medal recipient, Senior Master Key holder, and the clubs only Life Member. The list could go on and on including many current members who actively serve the community, the club, the zone, and the district.

Each year, as a result of the hard work of the members of the Westerville Lions Club and the generosity of this community, tens of thousands of dollars have been given to such worthy causes as Ohio Lions Eye Research, Pilot Dogs, Central Ohio Lions Eye Bank, Happy Canine Helpers, glasses, eye examinations, Boy’s and Girls State, Maurice McVay Memorial Scholarships, and much more.

Each Lion President from the first – Harry Hance; the second, Judge Troop, and on through the ninety-first and current, Gary Bix– has led an enthusiastic group of men who sought to serve humankind. While we were growing, so was all of Lionism. When the Westerville Club was charted in 1928, there were fewer than 75,000 members organized in about 2,500 clubs. Today there are over 1.4 million Lions organized in over 46,000 clubs worldwide.

Over the years – be it selling candy, pulling cars from the mud in the carry out line, feet sore from house-to-house light bulb sales, eating-planning-singing together at meetings, erecting signs, building recreational areas, purchasing glasses, helping the helpless – the Westerville Lions have been true to their purpose – the betterment of the community. Throughout the eighty-one years of its life, this worthy aim has been the motivational goal. May it always be so!

What does the future have in store for us? If the past is any indication, our future is bright. Future Historians will write about new fund raisers, new service projects, and the first women to become Westerville Lions. The times they are a changin’.” The one thing that will never change is the need for men and women to unselfishly serve their community. The need is greater now than ever before. Melvin Jones, Harry Hance, Judge Troop, Howard Elliott, Dr. Reese, Tillie Franklin and every other Lion joined because they recognized this need.

The Lions Motto states it best, “WE SERVE”.

Westerville Lions Club
Charter Members


  • H.T. Hance, President
  • H.W. Troop, Vice President
  • H.B. Anderson, Secretary
  • Frank Bookman, Treasurer
  • J.C. White, Lion Tamer
  • H.W. Elliott, Tail Twister
  • G.H. Huhn
  • C.H. Dew
  • W.B. Johnston
  • V.G. Williams
  • H.B. Anderson
  • C.L. Ault
  • C.R. Bennett
  • L.V. Bennett
  • Frank Bookman
  • Howard Carpenter
  • E.H. Cherrington
  • D.R. Conard
  • A.D. Curfman
  • C.H. Dew
  • B.P. Doty
  • H.W. Elliott
  • G.G. Grabell
  • A.A. Griffith
  • H.T. Hance
  • G.H. Huhn
  • C.W. Iuler
  • R.S. Johnston
  • W.B. Johnston
  • E.F. Keys
  • J.H. LArimore
  • G.P. Lawrence
  • R.F. Martin
  • J.H. McCloy
  • R.R. Miller
  • E.J. Norris
  • Jack Robertson
  • H.C. Thompson
  • H.W. Troop
  • B.W. Valentine
  • L.E. Whitehead
  • J.C. White
  • L.G. Whitney
  • C.F. Williams
  • V.G. Williams

Copyright © 2018 The International Association of Lions Clubs. All rights reserved.