Lions roar into town
About 100 people who are members of the world's largest service club organization, Lions Club, held the annual District 9SE Convention in Washington, thanks to District Governor Fred Stark of Washington.
Stark has been a member of the Washington and Mount Ayr Lions clubs and has served as president of both. He has been the Lions state parliamentarian for 22 years and more.
"The fact is we're doing good to the community for society as a whole," Stark said in answer to the question of why he enjoys being a Lion. "Our motto is 'We Serve,' and we do in many ways."
One area the Lions organization has focused on, he said, is eyesight and eyeglasses. In 1925 at a Lions convention, Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, said, "I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?"
Being a district governor is a full-time job, Stark said, and not for him alone. His wife, Nan, who is also a Lions member, has traveled to many events with him.
"Our district goes all the way past Oskaloosa to Pleasantville, then south all the way to Corydon, and then east all the way to Keokuk, and then on up the Mississippi River to Grandview and Letts, taking in Iowa City, Marengo, and Belle Plaine to Victor, Iowa," Fred said.
Fred wanted to showcase Washington by having the convention in his hometown. He asked the city's park board for permission to turn on the white lights around the square and to light up the fountain in Central Park last Friday, March 28. The Lions met in the Washington Free Public Library, Friday night, which was the night the lights were turned on.
Six days before the convention, the Starks found out they would have to find an alternate convention site due to a scheduling conflict.
"Saturday, we were in the armory, which worked out quite well," Fred said. "We're very thankful and very appreciative of the Iowa National Guard for allowing us to sign a contract with them for that day."
Many local Lions club members worked very hard in the lead-up to the convention and during the convention.
"It took a huge amount of work," Fred said. "Both Nan and I and all the Lions Club members pitched in."