The Delaware Lion’s club was founded in 1948 with 45 members, headed up by Robert Cruikshank and Kenneth Doty, a former Lion from Grave City, Ohio. Chapter night was held in the St. Mary’s School with Dr. James Gorsuch installed as it’s first President. Jim had recently opened a dental office in Delaware after serving his country as a medical officer during WWII in Europe. For the first five years, club functions were held at Bun’s Restaurant, moving to Larry Green’s Surry Lounge on east Winter Street for the next five years.

The first thing facing the new club was how to raise money for the projects the hoped to undertake. Several ideas were considered, and the two were finally agreed upon. They would use tax stamps (remember those?) that could be redeemed for cash with the state of Ohio. The second was a community auction, selling new and donated items. With the money thus earned they were able to buy their first pair of glasses for the a needy lad in 1949.

1954 saw the advent of an entirely new project, selling Bar-B-Que sandwiches at the Delaware County Fair. With the equipment borrowed from Marion the project involved 15 Lions and netted a profit of over $900.00. That would be more than $4000.00 in today’s currency.

During the following winter the club bought its’ own equipment and now had the most outstanding food concession at the fair, offering spit cooked meats and beverages. 50 pairs of glasses were purchased in 1955 with monies raised at the fair. The club also donated to other worth while causes, including eye research, pilot dogs, Boy Scout, and ROTC.

By the end of 1955 the membership had more than doubled to 93, and the men were assisted by the Ladies Auxiliary, formed the previous year.

Under the guidance of Lion Doty the club had added two more projects to their already busy schedule. The summer and winter horse show’s food concessions, also at the county fair buildings. Hot Bar-B-Que sandwiches almost a break even sale, with real profits derived from French fries, pop corn, and fountain beverages. Added to the menu were the pies baked by or ladies Auxiliary. They were sold out first. Summing up the first ten years, over 2,000 pairs of glasses were purchased.

Membership soared to over 100. Lion Lauren Lust a local tire dealer received the Senior Master Key award for sponsoring 25 members in eight years. A record that has never been broken.

The next twenty years would see the club involved with many more projects, with the big one being the door to door light bulb sale held every fall. In 1962 another project surfaced with the introduction of the Aunt Jemima Pancake Day. The secret to this money maker was advance ticket sales and Lion Ken Hardin became the master at convincing citizens of Delaware to eat pancakes with us at the Willis Gym. The makers of the pancake flour not only provided us with mix, the also sent a black address straight from Broadway to portray Aunt Jemima, to entertain the guests at the event with songs and music from hit shows. Over 30 years have passed since the first pancake was eaten and it’s still a major fund raiser for our club.

In the past 25 years the club has undertaken many new projects, including rose sales, concessions at Mid-Ohio Raceway, commercial bulb sales, art’s and craft shows, and the annual golf outing chaired by Lion Bob Green. All activities at the fair grounds ceased when suitable financial arrangements could not be worked out with management.

In February of 1966 the club received a windfall in the form of an abandoned one room house on 2.6 acres of land located on Airport Road., donated by Lion Jim Watts. An eager Lions membership jumped at the chance to transform the piece of real estate into something more useful. They added a concrete floor, doors, windows, a ceiling, and heating to the old building. However after a couple of summer picnics with families and friends in attendance they decided the old house would have to go and more improvements were needed.

In 1991 plans were underway to add the new club room attached to the west side of the building, completed with the heating, kitchen, and two inside restrooms. Several Lions were very much involved with this project, and through donated time, materials and money the Club House was finished. All regular club and board meetings were held there. For several years the August board meeting was held on Lion Ralph Grooten’s houseboat. When the meeting was over everyone enjoyed a moonlight cruise on Delaware Lake. This practice was discontinued in 1996 when the boat was sold. The Club House was sold in the late 1990's and the Delaware Lions now meets at various businesses in the community on the 1st and 3rd Thursday, September thru May.

Over it’s 50 year history the Delaware Lion’s Club has bought several hundred pairs of glasses, Purchased pilot dogs, donated to Canine Helpers, installed drinking fountains on Sandusky Street, provided Lazy Eye exams for school children, supported Scouting, ROTC, provided Grady Memorial Hospital with special instruments used in eye surgery, paid for eye surgeries, purchased talking books for the blind. They have participated in local parades and collected thousands of pairs of eye glasses to be recycled. With all this activity the Lions have found time to have fun by attending district, state and international conventions. Had Christmas parties, dinner dances, and stag parties. With the community to help others our motto, “We Serve” truly fits the members of the Delaware Lion Club.

Thanks to all the members of the Lions Club and former member Verlin Place with providing some of the above information.

Lion Ralph Grotten

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