BUCKHANNON — The year was 1967. Lyndon B. Johnson was president. The Vietnam War was underway. Twiggy became a famous model. The Beatles were big.
And in Upshur County, the Tennerton Lions Club was sponsored by the Philippi Lions Club and officially chartered on April 27, 1967, according to Lions Council of Governors chair Al Cox. The Philippi Lions Club will celebrate 70 years in May.
“This club was organized with 44 members,” he said. “That’s quite a challenge. Now the rule is you have to have at least 20 members and they prefer 25.”
Tennerton is the second oldest Lions Club in the county, behind the Buckhannon Lions Club which is in its 93rd year.
Under its first president, Berlin Karlen, the club undertook its first community project — a scoreboard for Buckhannon High School. A few years later, it purchased the traffic control system for what was then the high school.
Its community service continues today from the regular Lions clubs initiatives of collecting used eye glasses, sight conservation, Leader Dog, etc. to specific Upshur County projects like scholarships, donations to community groups, planting trees, playground projects and more.
Lions International is celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, according to Cox.
The focus through Lions International has been engaging youth, sharing the vision, relieving hunger and protecting the environment.
“When it comes to youth programs, this club is a major investor in the youth of this community,” he said.
The club sponsors students for Boys and Girls State, sponsors a Leo Club and has had several Peace Poster winners including the state winner.
Don Henderson Sr. is the only active charter member from when the club formed 50 years.
“I had just come off a club that was one of the best clubs I had ever belonged to,” he said. “The Junior Chamber of Commerce went from age 18-35. When the [Tennerton] Lions Club was organized, I was 35 years old. I have always been civic minded and the fellowship in the Lions Club has always been wonderful.”
Henderson is still active, helping in various projects like the semi-annual pancake feeds.
“There’s very few pancake breakfasts I have missed,” he said. “I just feel very fortunate that I have been a member of this Lions Club and been in it this long. I enjoy it.”
Patricia Karlen, the wife of the late Berlin Karlen, said, she remembered Berlin working hard to recruit people to form the Tennerton Lions Club.
Cox feels that the change to allow women to join was one of the most significant events over the last 50 years of Lions history.
“That is one of the biggest things we ever did in the last 50 years,” he said. “Women are now the fastest growing segment in Lions International.”
Cox said women have stepped to the front and are now taking leadership positions.
Pat Karlen was one of the first women to join the Tennerton Lions Club and later served as its first woman president in 2005-2006.
Since then, the club has had several women presidents: Vicki Walton in 2006-2007, Ann Slaughter in 2008-2009, Glenda Smith in 2010-2011 and current president Sandra June Phillips.
Cox said that the first ever female Lions International president, Guðrún Björt Yngvadóttir, will be sworn in next year.
Cox presented several awards following his speech.
Johnnaston Kimble had stepped up to the plate to help the club whenever needed, according to Cox.
Currently, he is third vice president and has chaired several committees and helped other committees.
Most recently, Kimble volunteered to help with flood recovery relief in the counties ravaged by the summer 2016 floods and has spent many weekends with fellow Lions from other clubs helping out.
“With the dedicated service this Lion has put forth, it’s not surprising that Lion Johnnaston Kimble has been named the Tennerton Lion of the Year,” he said.
Kimble thanked the club for the honor and said he enjoys being a member of the club.
Edith Casto received the Melvin Jones Fellowship, a recognition given to humanitarians. It is the Lions Club Foundation’s highest honor.
Cox said, “Humanitarian service is the goal of all Lions.”
John Haymond will receive the Leonard Jarrett Award named in honor of the founder of the West Virginia Lions Sight Conservation Foundation. The award is the highest award given by the foundation.
The Tennerton Lions Club gave a $1,000 donation to the club in the name of John Haymond. He will be presented with this award at a later date. Haymond is an immediate past president of the Tennerton Lions Club.
Tom Reed was inducted as a new member at the banquet.