Lions History - Origins and spread from the USA to Australia
The Lions are men and women dedicated to serving those in need, whether in their own community or half-way around the world. In addition to humanitarian service, they enjoy fellowship and develop leadership skills.
Lions began in the United States in 1917 when a group of independent clubs responded to an idea presented to them by a young Chicago insurance agent, Melvin Jones. He believed that local business clubs should expand their horizons from purely professional concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.
This was heralded as a departure from the trend current at that time of forming clubs basically with a commercial motive --Jones' own group was the Business Circle of Chicago. An organisational meeting was held at a local hotel on June 7, 1917, and from this meeting the organisation was born.
The association became "international" with the formation of the Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Lions Club in 1920. From that time on clubs were formed worldwide.
The guiding force and founder Melvin Jones was the first acting secretary of the association, thus beginning an affiliation with Lions that only ended with his death. He served the association from 1917 until his death in 1961. Melvin Jones, who was born on January 13, 1879, in Fort Thomas, Arizona, is buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois U.S.A.
FIRST ANNUAL CONVENTION
The first annual convention was held in Dallas, Texas, at the Adolphus Hotel, October 8 - 10, 1917. Thirty six delegates representing 22 clubs from nine states participated, approved the " Lion Clubs " designation, and elected Dr. William P. Woods of Indiana as their first president.
That first convention also began to define what the association was to become. A constitution and by-laws were adopted, the colors of purple and gold approved, and a start was made on the Objects and Code of Ethics.
The official name of " Lions " is " The International Association of Lions Clubs " or simply " Lions Clubs International "
It consists of a gold letter " L " on a circular purple field. Bordering this is a circular gold area with two conventionalised lion profiles at either side facing away from the center. The words " Lions " appear at the top and " International " at the bottom. Symbolically, the lions face both past and future - proud of the past and confident of the future.
It is the obligation of every Lion to wear and display this emblem with pride.
Developed at the 1997 International Convention in Philadelphia and included in the masthead of THE LION Magazine beginning with the October 1997 issue.
" To create and foster a spirit of understanding among all people for humanitarian needs by providing voluntary services through community involvement and international cooperation. "
" Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation's Safety. "
Purple and Gold
To Lions, Purple stands for loyalty to country, friends, one's self and the integrity of mind and heart. It is the traditional color of strength, courage and tireless dedication to a cause. Gold symbolises sincerity of purpose, liberality in judgement, purity in life and generosity in mind, heart and purse towards those in need.
THE BASIS OF MEMBERSHIP
Any person of legal majority, good moral character and good reputation in the community may be granted membership in a duly authorised Lions Club. Membership is by invitation only.
Multiple District 201
Wlliam R Tresise
The first Australian Lions Club was formed in the northern NSW town of Lismore on July 1st, 1947, largely through the efforts of William R.Tresise. While serving as National President of Apex, and nearing 40, the compulsory retirement age of that organisation, Bill Tresise unsuccessfully urged the formation of a senior Apex movement.
A chance 1946 meeting in the US with a past International President of Lions (Fred Smith, from California) led quickly to interviews with Lions Past International President Ed Barry, of Arkansas, and then with the Secretary-General and Founder of the Lions Association, Melvin Jones, in Chicago. Tresise was appointed a provisional District Governor, with power to form Lions Clubs in his home country.
He called a meeting of the business and professional men in his home town of Lismore, where he operated a plaster and hardware business, to hear the Lions story. An eloquent speaker, Bill Tresise soon convinced enough members to form the club. The first President, Jim Brown, proudly received the Club's official Charter in September of the same year. Melvin Jones cabled: " Congratulations to the 18th country to enter the International Association of Lions Clubs."
"Charter Night" Lismore Lions Club
The second club, Murwillumbah, was formed on August 3rd, 1948, but it was after the formation of the third club, Melbourne, on March 19th, 1952 that the rapid development of Lions Clubs, throughout Australia began, by 1976, there were 1,000 Clubs. Much of the credit for this expansion is due to the professional officers appointed by Lions Clubs International during this period.
Gordon Smith served a one year term from 1952, during which a number of clubs were formed in northern NSW, as well as in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Terry Fairburn, an ex-army officer and Vice President of Sydney Lions Club, served from 1953 to 1960, followed by James McLardie from 1960 to 1987. During this period Joe Mason, another tireless worker, was employed in extension work. The energy and dedication of these men was an essential factor in our expansion. This tradition has been continued by the current International appointment, Bob Allen, who has served since 1973.
Of course they could not succeed alone. The early Lions Club members themselves played an enormous role, at a time when the one Lions Club District took in all of Australia. To list their names is to risk offending those who are not mentioned, something our pioneering Lions would not countenance. Hopefully the 50th Anniversary Convention, to be held in Lismore in 1997, will be our opportunity to pay due tribute to those who gave us our Lions inheritance.
Bill Tresise was made a Member of the British Empire for his services to the Community. He died in Lismore on June 15th, 1975. His widow Fonnie was presented with his Melvin Jones Plaque in August 1977.