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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Girard Lions Club inducts first four into Lions Pride

  • The Girard Lions Club has had many dedicated, hard-working members since it was organized on March 20, 1948, and it occurred to Ken Rokos that they needed to be recognized.

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  • The Girard Lions Club has had many dedicated, hard-working members since it was organized on March 20, 1948, and it occurred to Ken Rokos that they needed to be recognized.
    That’s how the Girard Lions Pride came into existence. The first four members were inducted at the club’s end-of-fiscal-year picnic June 8 in Winston Park. Representing the past were the late Ivan Breneman and the late John E. “Jack” Shireman, while William Gifford and Bill Loyd are the active members honored. Ron Breneman and Roger Breneman accepted the honor on behalf of their father, and Ruth Duling represented her father, Jack Shireman.
    “I came up with the concept of the Girard Lions Pride,” Rokos said. “I’ve been in other organizations that have something similar.”
    One example is the Hall of Praise started by the Cockerill/Foxtown-Union School alumni group, which has its Hall of Praise.
    “I never went to Cockerill, but my mother and aunt, the Michilek sisters, did so I attend the reunions to represent them,” Rokos said.
    He said that, to be considered for the Girard Lions Pride, a person has to be a club member for at least five years. The application form has space to list the nominee’s accomplishments, both in the Lions Club and in the community. Members then voted on the nominees.
    “Ken called every member and made sure they voted,” William Gifford said.
    Ivan Breneman, who owned and operated Breneman Auto Parts in Girard for many years, died in 2008 at the age of 97. He was very active in the community, serving on the Girard Board of Education and as a director and past interim president of the First National Bank in Girard.
    “At the time he died, I believe Ivan was our last living charter member,” Gifford said. “He was a perfect attendance person.”
    John E. “Jack” Shireman died in September 2012 at the age of 88 following a long career in education, including 25 years in Girard, 18 of them serving as superintendent of schools.
    “Jack was a faithful member and for many years served as our tail twister, one of the officers we have,” Gifford said.
    He said that Bill Loyd has also been very faithful over the years.
    “Right now he’s serving as our treasurer, and treasurers have a lot of work to do,” Gifford said. “Our primary fundraiser is our pancake feed, and Bill has to order the supplies for that.”
    Gifford said he joined the club after he came to Girard in 1961 and has served in various offices.
    “A program for a music show we put on has me listed as vice president in 1963,” he said.
    Gifford said that it was difficult to attend meetings regularly during his years as head of the special education cooperative now known as Southeast Kansas Interlocal No. 637, but he’s had more time to devote to the club since his retirement.
    Page 2 of 3 - “Our current club president, Dan Duling, now has the job I had,” Gifford noted.
    He’s proud of all the good the club has done in the past and continues to do, including sponsoring Boy Scout Troop No. 84, sponsoring two or three students each year to the Lions State Band, purchasing a score board for school sports donating to the Girard High School After Prom Party and collecting used eyeglasses, hearing aids and used cell phones for those in need.
    Sight is an emphasis of Lions Clubs, and the Girard club has donated to the Kansas Lions Sight Foundation, Kansas Lions Eye Bank, Kansas Audio Reader Network, the Kansas Lions Eye Bank and the University of Kansas Ophthalmology Department.
    “We also help buy eyeglasses for children whose families can’t afford them,” Gifford said. “We work with the school nurse on eyeglasses and the nurse checks into other funding resources. If they won’t cover the entire cost, we’ll make up the rest.”
    Rokos told of a new project for the club, the Lions Affordable Hearing Aid Project. This project enables clubs to provide high-quality, low-cost hearing aids as well as services of a hearing care professionals to conduct tests, fit the aids and provide follow-up care.
    “We just got a lady a hearing aid,” Rokos said. “The club has to do the paperwork. The cost was $218. The club paid $100, an anonymous donor paid $118 and the lady didn’t have to pay anything. Her son told me that as she was riding in the car with him, she asked him if he could hear the birds singing. She told him that she hadn’t been able to hear the birds sing since she was a little girl. That makes it all worth while.”
    Gifford said that, following the 2003 tornado that devastated Franklin and parts of rural Girard, the club applied for $10,000 from the Lions International Foundation.
    “We had that money in two days,” Gifford said. “Jack Shireman and I went to Arma, located a spot in St. Joseph’s Parish Hall and, using Red Cross guidelines, gave away that money to tornado victims. We are a service club, and every penny we take in goes back to the community. We keep the club going through the dues of members.”
    It’s fortunate that the club has been blessed with such fine members over the years, and more are welcome. Dr. Jay Yost took his oath of membership at the award picnic. Other new members not present will be sworn in later. They include Jenny Collins, Craig Wilbert and Mike Bodensteiner.
    Next year more members will be inducted into the Girard Lions Pride, and Gifford has some ideas already. He feels that the late Robert Earle Lyle, who died in 1977, is deserving of recognition. A past club president, Lyle published two books on Lionism in Kansas and served as editor/publisher of “Kansas Lions News” for 11 years.
    Page 3 of 3 - “I also think that Ken Rokos, who served as club president for five years, should be inducted, but he declined,” Gifford said. “We’ll get him one of these years.”

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