By Lee Henry
The Lions Club is the world’s most active and largest service club with over a million members. The Troutville Lions Club celebrated its 80th year in 2021. But now with the aging of members and several having health issues they with much regret have dissolved as a club.
The Troutville Lions Club started out meeting in churches as John V. Rader was one of the charter members who many in town still talk about to this day of his involvement with the club. The club had a very active membership and grew to as many as 40 members. The Lions played a role in their early years with helping of the new Town Hall when it was built at the location it is now. Interesting to know that the lot once was a car dealership and after being destroyed by a fire the Town Hall was built.
The Lions Club helped financially with the kitchen needs of appliances and also with stocking items needed for the meeting room. The club was also instrumental in getting the first fire truck to the town’s fire department, which was then located on Boone Drive. William Corbett, Henry Amos and Richard Rock brought the truck from Ohio. Henry Amos was mentioned again as helping to get the caboose in the Town Park. He worked for the railroad and was a big part of getting the track and caboose installed.
The Town Park once was a football field, called Rock Stadium because of all the rock, then a baseball field when Troutville High School was across the street. The county turned the park over to Town of Troutville and the land was to be used for a playground for the schools. Several men in the town played a role in making the park what it is today. Adrian Poulin’s name was mentioned, who was a 30-year Marine and park manager for nearly 15 years. The Lions’ projects at the park started with the building of Shelter A and later Shelter B which they had the former correctional facility Camp 25 help build. The Lions’ last project in the park was the stage that was built by Richard Farmer.
The Lions held their meetings at Town Hall twice a month on the second and fourth Mondays. Their meetings concluded with a guest speaker and you could always count on their pianist Lucille Graybill to play for them for more than 20 years. They held popular fundraisers at the Town Hall of pancake and spaghetti suppers. In the later years they changed to bar-b-q dinners which sold out every time. The Lions Club was known for the homemade apple butter they made yearly. They sold mints, brooms and held “White Cane Days” that benefited the blind. Their fundraising allowed them to give donations to several charitable organizations and funded their projects they did in the town.
The Lions Club sponsored Eagle Scouts, one in particular was a little Greenfield park that one of the scouts put together. They also sponsored recreation league baseball teams with funds so they could purchase hats and uniforms.
The Lions Club has always collected glasses and the Lions Club Center on Elm Avenue in Roanoke is where they would sort, clean and classify the type of lenses before shipping them overseas.
The Pedia Vision Screening is an ongoing screening program that the Lions Club did visiting local schools and identifying children who needed vision correction to see clearly. The Troutville Lions Club traveled with the machine to different schools and under the direction of the school nurses that provided the list of students who qualified for the screening. The Lions would even pay the bill for those needing glasses and exams at National Optical.
On June 22, the Lions Club had their last meeting with less than 10 members in attendance. Many have passed on and some were just too ill to attend. One Lions member said he had a great experience and enjoyed being in the club. Everett Hurst said, “Everyone had the common goal to make the community better, make life better.” The Town of Troutville will always be grateful to that loyal group who fulfilled every obligation they started. The Town Park would not be what it is today without the Troutville Lions Club improvements through the years.
The Troutville Sunshine Girls are hosting the annual Veterans Day program on Friday, November 11 at 11 a.m. in Shelter A at the park. Several Lions Club members are veterans and are encouraged to attend the program this year to get special recognition and appreciation for all they’ve done.
The program and appreciation lunch are open to the public. Anyone interested in attending may call the Troutville Sunshine Girls at 540-819-6335 for reservations.