- Macomb Lions Club
Prepared by John Storey, Charter Member
1993-2010 Updated by Robert Collier, Historian
On April 14, 1963, three individuals met to consider the formation
of a Lions Club in Macomb. These persons were Robert Coutts,
Robert Cushing, Jr., and Darvis Overstreet. A few weeks later,
on May 23, 1963, the Macomb Lions Club was formally organized,
with the assistance of international representative Bud Campbell,
with these temporary officers: President-William S. Gillidette;
Secretary-Robert T. Cushing, Jr.; Treasurer-Harry E. McDaniel.
Membership at this time consisted of 23 persons. Our Charter
Night was held at the American Legion Post in Macomb on Sunday,
September 23, 1963. By that time, the Club had grown to 50 members.
The Canton Lions Club served as our sponsor. Subsequent Charter
Night anniversaries were held on September 26, 1966; October
18, 1973; November 2, 1978; September 17, 1983; our twenty-fifth
on May 5, 1988; our thirtieth on September 16, 1993 and our thirty-fifth
on October 24, 1998. It is interesting to note that Past International
Director William K. Richardson served as Master of Ceremonies
on both our initial and 25th Charter Nights.
In an effort to make this history more meaningful, the authors
decided to list the most significant events chronologically under
the following headings: Mission; Fund Raising; Service Projects;
Meeting Places and Times; and Other Events of Interest.
The primary mission of the Macomb Lions Club is service to
humanity through a commitment of community service. The Lions
motto, "We Serve" is reflected in every service
project of the Macomb Lions Club. While our service projects
encompass a wide range of activities, our primary focuses are
on sight and hearing needs.
As every Lions Club member knows, raising funds that make
our service projects possible is one of our highest priorities.
Over the years, a variety of fund raising projects have been
undertaken with varying degrees of success. These projects with
a brief description follow:
Our first fund raising project consisted of the sponsorship
of a circus on August 19, 1963. The name of the circus is not
mentioned anywhere in our records. Although our efforts to make
a substantial number of advance sales proved largely unsuccessful,
the club did net about $1,000 from this endeavor. Our second
project was the sponsorship of the Good Tatum basketball game
held at the (old) Macomb High School gym on January 21, 1964.
Tatum, the star of the Harlem Globetrotters, broke away and formed
his own team that employed many of the tactics that made the
Globetrotters so interesting to watch. A good crowd attended
the game and our club netted $579.99. Our third project was a
broom sale (no light bulbs) held during the month of September,
1964, (exact date unknown). This raised a total of $85.00 in
net profit. Broom sales continued on a yearly basis, in the fall,
through 1973. Net incomes were not always reported, but were
estimated to run between $100-$200 per year. Starting in 1974,
light bulbs were added to our inventory and selling was done
in the spring. These sales have been conducted yearly until the
present and have constituted one of our best fund raising projects.
Net income to the club during this period of time was in the
$2,000-$3,000 range each year.
In 1964, the club made a second effort at sponsoring a circus,
this time the King Bros. Circus. Our net income from this project
was $360. After the difficulty we had in collecting the money
due us, which involved telephone calls, correspondence, and the
threat of legal action, the club decided to abandon this type
of fund raising forevermore.
On October 9, 1964, we held our first Candy Day giveaway as part
of a State of Illinois Lions project. This was held on the square
in the evening and featured Lion Harry McDaniel in a lion costume.
No report on income from this first candy day is available. On
a yearly basis, Candy Days has been maintained from its inception
to the present. In the early days, net income appeared to be
in the $300-$500 range. In 1978, a procedure to solicit businesses
in Macomb to underwrite the cost of the candy was started. This
procedure significantly increased our net income from Candy Days.
In that year, approximately 40 cases of candy were given away
and a net income of $3,718 was realized, which included $1,000
in share underwriting. Today Candy Days remains one of the Macomb
Lions Club's major fund raising projects.
Our sixth, and by far the
most ambitious project undertaken in our first 30 years was the
Kiddyland train. Equipment consisted of a genuine steam-driven
locomotive, a tender, four passenger cars, and approximately
one-quarter mile of track. Total cost of the equipment was $10,000.
An additional $1,000 was required for gravel, etc. To enable
us to make this purchase, members were asked to make loans to
the club at 6% interest. A total of $4,000 was raised in this
way, with $3,000 utilized as a down payment; a contract for $7,000
was executed with Henry J. McMillan, d/b/a/ International Commercial
Sales, Galva, Illinois, with interest at the rate of 4% on the
unpaid balance. Seventy percent of the operating revenue was
to be paid on the principal each year until the loan was paid
in full. The official train opening took place on May 30, 1965,
with a number of city dignitaries and many townspeople, as well
as a full complement of Lions Club members, on hand. All of our
club members worked diligently for many evenings during the spring
of 1965 laying track to ready our train for opening day.
The decision to purchase this train was not easily reached.
Much discussion ensued, and many concerns were expressed, before
the decision to purchase the train was made. An agreement with
the Macomb Park Board to locate the train in Everly Park just
north of the baseball diamond was reached. John Howard, a retired
train engineer, was hired to operate the train. It was slated
to operate from 6:00-9:30 PM Monday through Friday, 4:00-9:30
PM on Saturday, and 1:00-9:30 PM on Sunday. Club members sold
tickets and informed the engineer when to start the ride. A train
station was constructed under the direction of Lion John Sappington
with the able assistance of some of his high school students.
The station served as a place for ticket sales, as well as night-time
storage for the train and supplies. It was soon determined that
revenues were not sufficient to employ a paid engineer for this
time span, so Lions Club volunteers were trained to operate the
train and did so on week nights. Before the end of the first
year, club members took over all train operations.
Early in its functioning, it was discovered that the train
could not negotiate the 5% grade with a full load of passengers.
Through the efforts of Lion Jim Distefano, dirt was secured at
no cost from the Wal-Mart store excavation and hauled to the
train site on a weekend by volunteer city truck drivers. A considerable
portion of the track was re-laid to reduce the steepness of the
The Lion Line operated during the summer months from 1965 until
1972. As time went by, hours of operation were gradually reduced,
as it was discovered that revenues during certain time were not
sufficient to meet operating expenses. Although net income approximated
$1,500 per year for the first six years of operation, repayment
of member loans and payment on the principal of the loan utilized
all revenues obtained. As net income declined to $550 and $600
in 1971 and 1972, and as it became apparent to even the most
optimistic that the train would never become an income-producing
project, the decision was made to sell the train. Considerable
effort to find a buyer was made with no success. Finally, in
November of 1973, an agreement was reached with the Macomb Park
Board for sale of the train and track for the balance owed to
Henry J. McMillan, which totaled $4,374 plus accrued interest.
Most club members agreed that the train, while not a financial
success, did provide a service to the City of Macomb and surrounding
areas by providing entertainment for countless numbers of youngsters.
As a happy finale, the Park Board did find a buyer at a price
considerably above the cost of the train to them and utilized
the proceeds for a kiddyland play area in Glenwood Park that
is still utilized and which is designated as the Macomb Lions
Our next fund raising project was a relatively small, one-time
affair. It consisted of selling tickets to the WIU Summer Music
Theatre, which was in its initial season. This activity netted
the club about $100.
In the fall of 1966, a determination was made that the club could
make some money and have some family fun by hand-picking corn
left in the field after the regular harvest was completed. So
on two weekends, November 5-6 and 12-13, a number of Lions, spouses,
and children gathered on a farm (owner unknown) to pick corn.
Our endeavors produced some sore backs and a net profit of $122.
At about the same time, we started the sale of American flags,
which netted a total of $100 for our activities fund.
Our next major project was a basketball game between the American
Redheads team (all red-haired girls, some natural) and a team
of club members and other men on February 12, 1968. This attracted
a good crowd and proved to be an enjoyable and profitable enterprise,
although the exact amount realized was not stated in the records.
Also that spring, we sponsored a Dale Carnegie course in Macomb.
Again, the amount realized was not stated, but it probably was
a modest amount.
On April 17, 1968, another major fundraiser was undertaken. We
held our first Spaghetti Dinner at the McArthur school gym. Under
the direction of chief chef Lion Jerry Quintiliani and his spouse,
a delicious repast was prepared. However, all of our good efforts
netted only $180. But we persisted in this endeavor and held
five additional Spaghetti Dinners in succeeding years. Net incomes
reported were $441 for the second dinner, $270 for the third.
There was no report of income derived from dinners four, five,
Probably our least productive fund raising endeavor was a concert,
Rubinoff and his violin, held at the old high school gym on November
15, 1968. This activity resulted in a net loss to the club of
During the next several years, fund raising was limited to light
bulb and broom sales and Candy Days, as far as can be determined
from the records. But in November and December, 1979, raffle
tickets were sold for eight prizes donated by local businesses.
Lion Dee Kruzan was the brain and prize setter for this activity.
Net income of $690.50 was realized from this project, one-half
of which was donated to the C.P.R. telethon.
In the spring of 1980, the fund raising committee came up with
another idea. This was a community clean-up sale, a rummage sale
of donated items held on May 31, 1980. Income of over $1,000
was netted from this activity. A second clean-up sale was held
on May 23, 1981, with proceeds of $650.
A project that turned out to be a good one (high income with
a minimum of effort) was the sale of coloring books prior to
Christmas, 1981. These large-sized books were displayed at various
locations in Macomb and netted a profit of over $500. We sold
coloring books one additional season and made over $1,000.
Our club did sponsor two musical (singing) groups, the New Christy
Minstrels on December 3, 1982, and the Serendipity Singers on
August 3, 1983. The first netted almost $1,000 and the second
On July 2-4, 1983, Macomb
celebrated its Heritage Days. Our club conducted an onion ring
sale during these three days. Net income was about $450. The
city decided to make this a yearly event, so or club prepared
and sold onion rings along with soft drinks again in 1984. This
time the club netted over $800. In 1985, the club switched to
bratwurst, sauerkraut, and soft drinks (the decision was based
on the difficulty involved with onion ring preparation), netting
approximately $1,000. This project was conducted in 1986 and
1987 with even better results, netting almost $3,000 in 1987.
In 1988, the extremely hot weather resulted in smaller crowds
and decreased demand for hot items, with a net income of only
$300. The club continued to have a tent at Heritage Days until
1992. It was decided that the monies earned were not worth the
time and effort expended. However, the Lions resumed having a
food tent in 1993 with the introduction of a BBQ beef sandwich.
The first year for this product produced a profit of over $650.
The project was repeated for the last time at the 1994 Heritage
Days. In 2005 and 2006 the Lions Club assisted the Macomb Kiwanis
Club with a pancake and sausage breakfast during Heritage Days.
Lion John Beaver spearheaded this joint venture. Starting in 2008 the Macomb Lions and the Colchester Lions jointly sponsored this event, and it continues to this day. A second example of service
groups working together began in 2005, when Macomb Lions assisted
the Colchester Lions with their Labor Day food tent, a partnership
that also continues today.
In 1986, the club decided to participate in the Lions of
Illinois Sight and Sound Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes is part
of the International Sight First which has as its goal the elimination
of all preventable blindness by the year 2020. Tickets were sold
for $1.00 each, or a book of 12 for $10.00, between February
6 and April 17. Our club netted between $300 and $400 from this
activity, as the club retained one-half of the proceeds. This
activity was continued in 1987 and 1988. Although the dollar
results were not recorded, two plaques were received by the club
from District I-H in 1987, one for the highest dollar sales of
any club in the district and the other for the highest dollar
sales per member. This activity continues to be supported by
the Macomb Club today.
Another fund raising activity that was tried was the sale
of trash bags in 1987. These were prepared in gold and blue colors
with the Lions Club emblem emblazoned on the bags. Other clubs
in District I-H were invited to participate and several did so.
Although this project did not turn out as well as anticipated,
it did net our club over $400 in revenue
In December of 1994, Macomb Lions Club members participated
in a new fundraiser by wrapping gifts for the local Jacks store.
This project was repeated one more time in 1995 before the Jacks
store went out of business. The amount of income from this project
was not significant.
In July of 1996 the St. Louis Rams football team commenced
using Western Illinois University as the location of their summer
training camp. The Macomb Lions raised funds by helping to sell
Rams memorabilia at the training camp. The Lions Club continued
this activity through the 1999 summer camp.
During the 2005 Heritage Days celebration the Macomb Lions
Club and the Macomb Kiwanis Club co-sponsored a pancake breakfast
during the Sunday morning fly-in at the Macomb Airport. This
joint effort, lead by Lion John Beaver, was a big success with
over 1200 meals served by members of both clubs and their spouses.
This fundraising project was successfully repeated in 2006,
but cancelled for 2007 due to airport renovation restrictions.
With the airport renovations completed for the 2008 Heritage
Days celebration, the Macomb Lions Club co-sponsored this fundraiser
with the Colchester Lions Club. The jointly sponsored fund raiser continues today.
Projects, Meeting Places, Other Events, Macomb
Lions History cont'd