Lions Club members celebrated for decades of service

Freeman Boyer and Spence Purvis looked as regal as the Lions for which their service club is named.

Freeman Boyer and Spence Purvis looked as regal as the Lions for which their service club is named.

The men were being honored for a combined 140 years of membership and service.

The Whidbey Island men, one a lifetime resident and another a longtime resident, were given 75- and 65-year chevrons — pins recognizing their commitment to the Lions Club International and to serving others.

Purvis, 97, first joined the Lions in 1941. His first group was the Seattle Central Lions Club, but when he moved to Whidbey Island he transferred to the Coupeville club.

A member for 75 years, he is in elite company.

Only 28 members have reached the 75-year mark, said Lion Ron Wilkinson, who currently serves as the Lions International Zone H-7 chairman for Whidbey, Fidalgo and the San Juan Islands.

In all of those years, Purvis has done plenty of good helping run the garage sale and other fundraisers. But his friends at the ceremony honoring both men Dec. 15 in Freeland said his greatest asset is the ability to tell a good story.

The Freeland man’s grandson-in-law, Mark Meyers, said he knew Purvis when he served on the Island County Development Council and before Meyers started dating Purvis’s granddaughter.

Recently, Meyers said, they went on a trip to Europe and wanted to see and visit some of the places Purvis toured as part of his active duty service during World War II.

“He said, ‘Those hedgerows are something I’ll never forget,’” Meyers said of Purvis sharing a story.

“We’ve shared a lot of good times together,” Meyers said.

Dressed like a man running for president, Purvis wore brown leather loafers, pleated slacks with a crisp fold down the middle of the leg, a white button-up shirt with a starched collar, a paisley tie, and a blue blazer with a Lions Club patch on the breast and a lapel pin. His humor was as sharp as his attire.

About 20 minutes into the 2 p.m. gathering, Purvis walked over to the head table, grabbed the gavel – reserved typically for the club president presiding over Lions meetings – and gave the wooden mallet a few sturdy swings into the bell.

“As the oldest member in attendance, I’m going to call this meeting to order before I fall asleep,” he said to resounding laughter in the Maple Ridge Assisted Living Home’s dining room.

Since 1978, Purvis has been a member of the Coupeville Lions Club. He has helped put on the club’s annual garage sale as a coordinator for 15 years.

Past club president Dennis Bullock thanked Purvis for his time. Bullock last served as the club president in 2010-11, when Purvis received his 70th year award and recognition.

“I liked the 70-year chevron so well I came back for the 75th,” Purvis quipped.

Not to be outdone, Bullock answered: “They don’t even make an 80-year chevron, so I’ll have to forge one.”

Freeman Boyer, 94, joined the Coupeville Lions Club in 1951. He took five years off when he served as a board member for the Coupeville School District, but has otherwise been a continuous member.

He first joined because of the club’s basketball team. That linked him to the club’s other activities, including the annual scholarship auction for which he housed several items in his buildings and funding a scholarship.

“I have enjoyed the Lions Club,” Boyer said, seated next to Purvis in front of several dozen fellow Lions members from Whidbey Island and even a couple from Bellingham.

“I’m happy to be here and see all of my friends,” he added. “I better sit down while I’m ahead.”

Both men, in addition to the chevrons for their membership tenure, received personal letters from Lions International President Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada of Japan.

The letters thanked and congratulated them for their dedication and service.