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Congratulations to the Ava Lions Club on their 75th anniversary.
For as long as I can remember, there has been an Ava Lions Club, and from my earliest recollections, it has been the organization to look to if you really want something done in Ava.
The Ava Lions Club celebrated its 75th anniversary Monday night with a banquet at the Lions building on North Jefferson. Actually, the club is celebrating its anniversary throughout 2012; the club was organized in November 1937 and the charter was presented Jan. 20, 1938.
When you look over the list of men who signed up as charter members of the Ava Lions Club you see names synonymous with the Ava business community of years gone by, and some names still recognized today. Those of us who make up the over-50 crowd recognize many of the names. They were the business and professional men, the elected officials, the doctors and merchants…and the newspaper publisher.
As I read the newspaper article that tells about the organization of the Lions Club in Ava a couple of things impress me. First, 127 people attended a banquet at the high school gym to hear a presentation on this relatively young organization in 1937. It’s hard to get 127 people to attend any public meeting nowadays, except for a ballgame or some other entertainment venue.
Another thing that impresses me is that, according to the newspaper article, a group of men from Springfield came to town one Monday and presented the plan. The next Monday night they had 127 people at the high school gym ready to see what the organization was all about.
If we were to try to organize something like that today, we would need a month, minimum, to get it all together. And then we wouldn’t get 127 people to attend.
The Ava community owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Ava Lions Club for fulfilling the stated purpose: to encourage active participation in all things that have to do with commercial and civic betterment.
Lions activities, it was said, included sight conservation and blind work, boys and girls work, citizenship, community betterment, civic improvements, education, health and welfare, and safety. All of us who know the Lions can say Ava Lions have lived up to those charges.
Those who attended the banquet on Monday night were told it was Helen Keller who challenged Lions International in 1925 to take on the task of preserving sight and helping the blind. Still today, that is a primary goal of the Lions, but they do so much more.
Look at the list of charter members 75 years ago and you will see the men who made Ava. We would call them the movers and shakers.
Dr. F.F. Schudy, dentist; Clarence Clinkingbeard, funeral director and former mayor of Ava; Dane Tillman, first manager of the MFA Exchange and former mayor; O.M. Swick, owner Ava Dry Cleaners and fire chief; Bill Brooks, owner radio shop and electrical shop, pharmacist; Noel Sutherland, highway engineer and circuit clerk; Rondo Burdett, owner Chevrolet dealership; Harry Martin, Martin’s livery, feed and sale barn, county collector, owner Buick dealership; Dr. J.H. Coffman, dentist; Louis Brown, Brown’s Federated Store; Russell Ferguson, Ferguson Drug Store, pharmacist; Dr. Marvin Gentry, family doctor; Lz Banta, prosecuting attorney; Rudy Kester, Kester Auto Sales; Burnam Cummins, city marshal, Cummins Electric, Mo. Hwy. Patrol reserve, Missouri checkers champion; Oscar Sanders, circuit court recorder; Boone Norman, Ava Drug Co., pharmacist; Ben Callaway, Callaway Oil, mayor of Ava; Lowell Gaulding, Gaulding Dry Goods; Rev. J.M. Smoot, Ava Methodist Church pastor; and J.E. Curry. editor and publisher of Douglas County Herald, former Missouri State Senator.
In addition to those who served as mayor of Ava, several of these men served terms on the City Council and the school board at a time when one didn’t “run” for office but rather agreed to perform their obligatory duty.