Louisiana Lions History
The history of Lions in Louisiana actually dates back to the first convention of what is known today as The International Association of Lions Clubs, or as it is commonly referred, Lions Clubs International.
In 1913, a successful Chicago insurance salesman named Melvin Jones struck out on his own and opened his own agency. And, following the norm of his day, joined a professional men's luncheon club, The Business Circle. By 1917, he was elected secretary of the club and was growing more and more dissatisfied in the direction the club was taking. He began looking at different clubs from around the nation and noticed that among the simularities, one aspect stood out above all the rest, being devoted to advancing the business interests of its members. And so the idea began, a rationally new concept at the time; instead of a clubs members spending all their time and energy improving themselves, why not use some of that determination to improve their communities.
And so it began. On June 7, 1917, Melvin Jones brought together in Chicago representatives from several clubs from around the country and presented his idea, a humanitarian club. It was well accepted. One of the larger affiliations of clubs present was the 35 club Evansville, Indiana based International Association of Lions Clubs, and its president, Dr. William Woods, invited all clubs represented to unite with his organization.
Melvin Jones studied this affiliation and decided it was in the best interest of his idea to move forward with the affiliation. After more discussion with Dr, Woods, president of the International Association of Lions Clubs, it was decided to convene all interested members in Dallas, Texas on October 8, 1917 with the purpose of drawing up a Constitution and By-Laws for this new organization. The name, The International Association of Lions Clubs, was retained and its purpose was to become an organized force for voluntary service, goodwill and mutual assistance throughout the world.
Present at that convention was the Shreveport Downtown Lions Club. At that convention, one of its members was elected to a two-year term as International Director, Roger Wheles.
Louisiana again showed its presence at the 1918 convention. After a motion was passed to declare all offices vacant and new officers to be elected, F.C. Brinckman of Shreveport was elected Third Vice-President. Louisiana was aligned with Eastern Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida to form District 5. Leon T. Khan of Shreveport was named this new districts first Governor.
In 1919, F.C. Brinkman was elected the second Governor of District 5.
In 1921, District 5 was reduced to Louisiana and Mississippi.
The 1922 convention separated Louisiana and Mississippi. Louisiana was originally designated District 12 but after debate, Louisiana and its three clubs (Shreveport Downtown, Monroe Downtown, and New Orleans) were officially designated District 8, at that time the lowest district number available.
In 1932, Wilber L. Wilson of Springhill began his 48 year career at Lions Club International when he joined the International staff.
1940 separated Louisiana into two districts, A and B.
1942, Ernest Gibson of Monroe was elected International Director.
1944 divided Louisiana further, into A, B, and C.
1947, Caye A. Nelson of Baton Rouge was elected International Director.
The 1950 Multiple District convention in New Orleans further sub-divided the state and gave it its appearance as it is known today, dividing it into five districts (L, I, O, N, S). Also in 1950, at an International Convention, Elmer E. Stewart of Shreveport was elected International Director.
1951, Shreveport Downtown was officially recognized as a Founder Club of Lions.
in 1955, Warren O. Watson of Baton Rouge was elected International Director.
In 1957, the Louisiana Lions League for Crippled Children opened.
In 1959, Alcee F. Maxfield of Lake Charles was elected International Director.
In 1964, B. M. Stone, Jr. of Baton Rouge was elected International Director.
In 1971, Dominic J. Carlone of New Orleans was elected International Director.
In 1974, The Louisiana Lions Eye Foundation was founded.
In 1983, Sterling Diaz of Thibodaux was elected International Director.
In 1993, J. Stanley Palmer of Bossier City was elected International Director.
In 2005, Robert J. Eichhorn of Metairie was elected International Director.