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Some 70 people attended the event which began at 5 p.m. when Lion President John Weisbrod rang the bell to call the meeting to order.
Following a brief welcome by the president, all stood and said the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Lion Archie Daily. Lion Jim Norman then led the group in singing “America.”
The guests were seated and the honor guard from the VFW performed a “White Table Ceremony”; a narrative told what each item on the table represented. The memorial ceremony is done in remembrance of the MIAs and POWs who are represented by the empty chair and the table setting.
The honor guard consisted of Larry Morrison, commander; Irv Reynolds, who displayed each table piece; and Jerry Garrison and Etta Mecke who were the flag bearers.
Upon completion of this touching demonstration by the veterans, the invocation was given by Lions member, the Rev. Bob Crofton.
Lions members served the guests as the Lady Lions prepared the plates with a healthy helping of beef brisket, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, green beans, and freshly baked rolls. Drinks consisted of tea, water, sodas and coffee. All Lions members wore a T-shirt from the most recent Walk/Run event that proclaimed the club’s 75th Anniversary. It was easy to spot all the members working as servers or waiters as they were wearing the brightly-colored green shirts. For dessert, the lions served apple tarts with a large scoop of ice cream.
Each table was also provided with a large plate of sliced juicy summer tomatoes donated for the occasion by Garry Garrison, Korea and Vietnam veteran.
The Lions were seated with a head table for the speakers. Those sitting at the head table were Lion President John and Linda Weisbrod. To their left were two Missouri State Representatives, Tony Dugger and Lyle Rowland.
Representative Dugger (144th Dist.) has represented Douglas County for several years but, due to the redistricting, will forfeit the county effective Jan. 1. At that time, Representative Lyle Rowland will become the state representative and will represent Douglas County with the 155th District.
Lion District Governor Walt Hamer, from Monett, and his wife, Karen, were seated to the right of Lion John.
Former state representatives Mary Lou Sallee, of Ava, and Wendell Bailey, of Willow Springs, also attended. Bailey is also a former Missouri state treasurer and U.S. representative.
Other distinguished guests were Lions district and area officers including 2nd Vice District Governor Peter Frantzen, Forsyth; President Ken Lewis from Mountain Grove Lions Club; and Zone Chairman Bob Crump, of Seymour.
Upon completion of the dinner and the busing of the tables the after dinner activities were kicked off by Lion John. He again welcomed all the guests and thanked them for attending and being a part of the anniversary celebration.
Immediate Past President Larry Morrison followed John with a few remarks about the Lions and their history. He went over the charter members and the role they played in the community as elected officials, business and professional people, and the importance they played in the community with their business as well as the important role they played in establishing the Ava Lions Club, and the impact it had on the Ava Community.
After Morrison got the crowd smiling with some jokes and funny stories, he introduced the guests beginning with all veterans in attendance. Following those acknowledgements he introduced the musical entertainment of the evening, state and national fiddle champion Junior Marriott. Junior brought with him another young fiddle player, Trustin Baker, of Birch Tree. Trustin is the state fiddle champion of Missouri, Arkansas and Texas for the Junior Division. Also accompanying Trustin and Junior was Billy Ward, of Hollister, who played both fiddle and guitar.
Joining the musicians and almost stealing the show was Trustin’s sister, 11-year-old Carina Baker, who belted out two songs, “Milk Cow Blues” and “Blue.”
Adding to the impromptu humor of the evening, the microphone stand broke and had to be put back together with duct tape!
Lion Larry then invited president John back up to present awards. Lion Larry read the awards and Lion John presented them to the recipients.
The first recipient was Margaret Schatz, a representative from the Springfield Host Lions Club which was the co-sponsor of the Ava Lions Club when it first was chartered 75 years ago. On behalf of the Springfield club she was presented a plaque of appreciation and support, and a copy of the Douglas County Herald article announcing the formation of the Ava Lions Club in 1936. The article, reprinted on parchment, was framed for the club to display.
A similar award was prepared and will be presented to the Marshfield Lions Club, also a sponsor of the Ava Lions Club 75 years ago.
An award was also presented to the Douglas County Herald for the support they have given in the past 75 years. J.E. Curry, editor/ publisher of the Douglas County Herald was a charter member of the Ava Lions Club. Keith Moore accepted a framed copy of the article on behalf of the Herald.
Lion John then presented Lion Larry an award for outstanding service to the Lions and community.
Lion Larry introduced State Representatives Dugger and Rowland who presented a resolution acknowledging the Ava Lions 75 years in the community. They also read a proclamation by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt acknowledging 75 years of service in the community, and Representative Rowland presented the club with a flag, provided by Sen. Blunt, that was flown over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in May of this year.
Before adjournment, families in attendance were presented a commemorative T-shirt and an etched plate bearing the Lions logo and the 75th anniversary motif.
Lion Jim Norman led the group in singing “God Bless America” prior to dismissal at 7:30 p.m.
On behalf of the Ava Lions Club, appreciation was expressed to the community that has helped them in the past 75 years. President John said he looks forward, with anticipation, to the future growth of the Lions Club and its service to the community. As always, the Lions welcome guests and anyone who is interested in becoming a Lion member.
“Ava Lions – We serve … for the past 75 years and look forward to the 100th anniversary in 25 years.”