Tonawanda News

The Town

May 4, 2014

Kenmore Lions Club celebrates 85 years

Kenmore Lions Club celebrates 85 years of service to blind, hearing impaired

Tonawanda News — From its first meeting on May 8, 1929 to today, the Lions Club of Kenmore has had just one goal: to serve.

Now celebrating its 85th anniversary, the club has devoted itself to helping those in the Ken-Ton area who are sight and hearing impaired.

To celebrate the milestone, the Lions Club will host an anniversary dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Acqua Restaurant, Buffalo.

“It was Helen Keller’s request at the Lions Clubs International Convention in 1925 that the Lions become her ‘Knights of the Blind’,” Tom Reinagel, club historian, said.

“At first women were included in the club, then the Lioness Club started for women. In 1987, women were let back in,” he said.

His comment was met with laughter from women club members who were among those gathered to tell the Lions remarkable story. 

“In 1994, Kathy Cherico became the club’s first female president. Today, about 30 percent of members are women,” Eileen Kirchgraber, club secretary, said.

“We’ve had five women presidents,” Reinagel said. “And the guys like it. The women work hard.”

Dr. Herb Simon, who joined Lions in 1955, is the oldest member of the club.

When he joined, he noticed that the members were always happy.

“It’s not long before you were serving as an officer. I was vice president in 1979 when we celebrated our 50th reunion. My job was to be sure there was a speaker every week at our meeting. I wanted everyone to walk out with something they didn’t know before,” Simon said.

More than 100 members were in the club at the time, drawn by their interest in helping the sight and hearing impaired. Today, 42 men and women are in the organization.

Among the members is Don Kossuth, who joined in 1965, because his friend kept bugging him to join.

“I finally gave up and joined,” he smiled. “It makes me feel good to be helping.”

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The Town