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Oak Harbor Lions roar into 60th year

Don Boyer, the Oak Harbor Lions Club’s longest standing member, displays a pin commemorating the organization’s 60th anniversary. In the background is his friend, Dur Roberson, who has been a member for more than 50 years. - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
Don Boyer, the Oak Harbor Lions Club’s longest standing member, displays a pin commemorating the organization’s 60th anniversary. In the background is his friend, Dur Roberson, who has been a member for more than 50 years.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

Sixty years old, going on forever.

At least that’s the way Don Boyer and Dur Roberson see the future of the Oak Harbor Lions Club. Between the two of them, there is more than a 100 years of membership. Though who exactly is the senior member is a matter of friendly debate.

“Don was president when I joined,” said Roberson, smiling..

“Now wait a minute,” answered Boyer, with a chuckle of his own. “Dur is senior in responsibilities.”

May marked the Oak Harbor chapter’s 60th anniversary. With no charter members still living, Boyer is technically the organization’s longest standing member, having joined in 1954 just three years after the group was formed in 1951.

Roberson, who recently received his 50-year-member pin, joined in 1960. He was a chapter president in 1973 before moving on to serve in the upper echelons of the organization as one of the international club’s 33 directors.

But no one is really counting. Being a Lion isn’t about length of membership or where you volunteered, it’s about serving your community. And the Lions Club knows something about giving back.

1955: The club began providing annual high school scholarships (something they still do to this day). Members also built picnic shelters and cooking facilities at Windjammer Park and began providing blood draws for area residents.

1956: Members built sea-wall steps; in 1957 they built and sold an entire residential house, and began administering eye exams and giving away free glasses (also a program that is ongoing today). The following year they planted trees at City Beach Park and built bleachers and the announcers booth at the Little League fields.

The list goes on and on for, well, about another 50 years. However, members admit that it would be a lie to say they don’t get anything out of being a Lion.

“It makes you feel great,” said Jim Ryan, the club’s current president. “That’s why we do this.”

One of the club’s major focuses is combating blindness. Along with administering eye exams, the Oak Harbor chapter works with the international organization to send used prescription glasses to needy people around the globe.

Another major aim in recent years has been the construction of service ramps for the handicapped at residential and commercial buildings all over town. Again, the idea is to give back to those who need it most.

“That’s what we’re here for, to help those who can’t help themselves,” Ryan said.

While there have been some big changes in the Lions Club over the past 60 years, such as allowing women into their ranks in the mid 1980s, members like Boyer say some things will never change. Not in another 60 years, not ever.

“It was a great organization and still is,” Boyer said.

 

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