January 21, 1953 was Charter Night for the newly organized Elkhorn Lions Club. The Williams Bay Lions were the sponsoring club. Wendell Bagnall was elected the first president of the club that began with 35 charter members.

The first project, the club initiated, was the annual Elkhorn Area High School Football Banquet. The project actually began in 1952 just before the club’s charter was approved.

Some of the early projects in the ‘50’s began with playground equipment for a small city park, a bike rack at the Municipal Building, and construction of the kitchen at the new activity center at the Walworth County Fairgrounds. The club sponsored the city’s only Sea Scout Unit for about a decade under the leadership of Lion Tom Pintar.

In 1957 the Elkhorn Club also entered into a county wide Lion’s project, that of providing a visit from Santa for the Lakeland School of Walworth County. The club still heads up this project with the help of other clubs in the county.

It was the establishment of the Wal-Co Rodeo in 1964 that allowed the Elkhorn Lions to enter into a number of major community projects. The first year of the rodeo the Lions were able to pledge $4000 towards the Municipal swimming pool drive. The citizens sponsored drive, involving a number of service organizations, culminated in 1966 with the completion of the large outdoor pool and related bathhouse facilities at Sunset Park.

The next major effort of the Lions came in 1970 following the fire loss of the old wooden grandstand replacement Fund, placing a $2500 donation in it to launch the drive. A countywide drive led by Lion Tom Pintar netted another $3000 along with other donations at the 1970 fair. In 1971 a new concrete and steel structure was erected in time for the Labor Day weekend annual fair.

The greatest financial effort by the club occurred in 1972 when members undertook the construction of the Sunset Park shelter building. The year around building required $30,000 in materials plus the donations of club members’ time in constructing it. On June 11th of that year, the Lions Den, complete with fireplace and rest rooms was dedicated in ceremonies and turned over to the city for use by local residents. Lion Marv Zinzow, a local contractor, was the club leader in this huge project.

The creation of a new Elkhorn Civic Center adjacent to the Library in 1975 brought a $15,000 commitment from the Lions. A community drive ultimately raised $47,000 for the moving of a building and remodeling the new center. The Civic Center became the new meeting place for the Senior Citizens, Elkhorn Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and other local organizations.

In 1977 the Elkhorn Lions gave $10,500 for the purchase and equipping of a four-wheel drive truck to replace the Elkhorn Fire Department’s old Jeep.

Other major community projects include $13,000 to the Matheson Memorial Library for visually handicapped equipment, $14,000 to the Elkhorn Rescue Squad for Defibrillator, $17,000 to Lauderdale-LaGrange “Jaws of Life” and new rescue vehicle, $8,000 toward new Lions field baseball diamonds at Sunset Park and $4,500 to pay for the flag poles in the boulevard on East Walworth Street.

Past, current and on going community projects include donations for hearing impaired, annual $1000 scholarships for two Elkhorn High School students, Badger Boys State, Walworth County Historical Society, Lakeland Animal Shelter, Youth Bowling, Lakeland Eye Bank, County Infant Seat Program, Holiday Care, Elkhorn Food Pantry, eyeglasses for the needy, Milwaukee Center for Blind Children, Beat the Heat, Project Graduation, Hospice, and Boy Scouts. In addition, each year the club supports the Wisconsin Lions Camp, Lions Foundations, Leader Dog Programs, L.C.I.F., B.O.L.D., and sight and hearing project. 

The Lions membership brings together a diverse group from many backgrounds, involving a variety of business and professional pursuits. The club has honored 14 members as recipients of the Melvin Jones Award. They are Lions Tom Pintar, John Sarena, Sherman Allen, Charles Johannsen, Robert Wuttke, George Paulsen, Richard Gilkey, Roger Klemp, Greg Wescott, Bob Schleiger, Ken Stowell, John Johnson, Bill Trewyn, and Greg Wells. The club was also honored when lion Sherm Allen served through the years as Deputy District Governor, Region Chairman, Zone Chairman, District Cabinet, and Lions Foundation Director. 

The Elkhorn Lions currently supports and sponsors the Elkhorn Lioness Club and for several years sponsored a Leo Club. Members have always been active in attendance at State and District Conventions. Several members have attended International Conventions and Forums in locations across the country. 

Projects over the years have included pancake dinners, broom sales, light bulb sales, Thanksgiving turkey raffles, Country Fair Dunking tank, 19 years of Wal-Co Rodeo, 14 years of Antique-Classic Car Show, 38 years of Beef and Chicken Dinners, and 6 years of concession stand at the Antique and Flea market. The Beef Dinner and Flea Market Concession stand are currently the clubs major fund raising projects. The club also is active in the sale of Lions Mints. 

Through the 50 years, the Elkhorn Lions are proud of their past accomplishments and look forward to success in the future. Many Lions have contributed to this service to the community and to those less fortunate than them. It is the result of many hours of voluntary work by Lions past and present. Most of these deeds go unnoticed without a lot of publicity but the Lions Club has had a major impact on the lives of many people both local and around the world. 

Not all the Lion activities are work however. We have fun too!! The club takes part in golf tournaments, bowling tournaments, ladies nights, Christmas parties, baseball outings and other fun activities. The club now has 43 members, both male and female. The club high membership was 65 in the 1970’s. One regular club meetings is held each month at various restaurants and one board meeting each month to plan the clubs projects and agenda. The Elkhorn Lions Club is always looking for new members, men and women who would enjoy the fellowship of Lions and the satisfaction of helping others. 

The Elkhorn Lions are currently committed to another major civic project. In 2002 the club pledged a donation of $25,000 for the addition to the Matheson Memorial Library and Civic Center project. The commitment includes an initial amount of $10,000 with the balance to be paid over a ten-year period. This commitment will keep the club busy with fund raising but will not reduce their regular activities of supporting community and Lions projects. 





















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