By Anne Thom—
In marriage, they say the 35th anniversary should be celebrated with something prized that is built out of longevity. The Stacy Lions Club celebrated such on April 7.
The Stacy Lions Club was organized Jan. 1977 and chartered Feb. 9, 1977. The Stacy Lioness club was organized March 1978 and chartered Apr. 28, 1978. The Lions and Lioness clubs merged July 1, 2000.
Three charter members are still active with the Stacy Lions; Clete Bracht, Jerome Schroeder and Jim Keacher.
The first Stacy Lions president was John Allquist. Keynote speaker and Lion Dick Tyler said of Allquist, “He had ambition. He had motive to ignite everybody in a Lion way.” Allquist’s widow and Lion Katie Allquist received the Lions Governor’s Certificate of Appreciation. Allquist was given a standing ovation as the award was presented to her.
Current leadership is president Dan Hoffman, 1st vice-president John Daher, 2nd vice-president Jim Berneche, secretary Lori Angeli and treasurer Eleanor Straub.
Hoffman told of being brought into the Stacy Lions Club after he had approached the members to use the Doyle Field building to hold free judo classes for the kids in the community.
Jim Keacher talked about the challenge of getting people to join, and how Lion Jerry Robbins sometimes found himself signing people up and paying the $15 out of his own pocket. They persevered, Keacher said. The membership increased. The Stacy Lions Club currently has 57 members.
Former Stacy Lion Dave Miller, now of McGregor, spoke about the Lions first fundraiser, a popcorn wagon.
Bob Germain talked about the rodeo that came next.
Clete Bracht told how he maintained order in the parking area at the rodeo; he carried a ball bat. Bracht said he had no intention of using the bat, but when he picked it up “people parked where they were supposed to.”
Lion Tim Cosgrove told an abbreviated but emotional story of the ball fields becoming Rick Doyle Memorial Field.
J. Keacher attributed much of the success for fundraising ideas to Russ Duval. “He was a great paper man. He’d come up with great ideas on paper. Pretty soon we were winning regional awards,” J. Keacher said.
Lion Donna Keacher, known to many as “Mrs. Santa Claus,” recalled how the Isanti Lioness club sponsored the Stacy ladies back in the day when they didn’t know what they were getting in to.
The Stacy Lioness group quickly took up fundraising. “Our first fundraiser was a chili supper. We worked hard. At the end of the evening when we figured out everything we made 25 cents, but we didn’t quit then,” D. Keacher said to laughter and applause.
The Lioness efforts launched the John Allquist Memorial Scholarship Fund, which has provided over $29,000 to local high school graduates.
5M7 District Governor Dave Schroeder said. “I can’t say enough good things about this club. It’s unbelievable what Lions can do.”
Pastor Al Valerius offered his gratitude. He thanked the club for befriending him during their 20-year relationship. “I came to the Stacy Lions and every time I came with my hand out asking for help they gave me help. Thank you for all the good you have done and that you continue to do. You have been instrumental in making Stacy a better place to live,” Valerius said.
In gratitude also, the St. John’s Lutheran Contemporary Music ensemble provided background music for the celebration and later in the evening, dance music. One member told the Post Review, “The reason we play is because the Lions gave us a gift for a sound system.”
Stacy Mayor Mark Utecht acknowledged how grateful the city is for the help the Lions have given, mentioning the ballpark lights at Doyle Field that have in many ways put Stacy on the map, new Christmas decorations, new playground equipment in Lions Park, and soon, kids summer activities that the club will partner with the city and the YMCA to provide.
“A lot of people come to the Lions with their hand out and every time we do, the Lions are there to help. I can’t thank you enough,” Utecht said.
The Helen Keller Sight Award was presented to Cookie Zitzow, Jerry Schroder, Clete Bracht, Steve Burvee and Lola Leibke. Receiving the Melvin Jones Fellowship were Jim Berneche and Bill Schmidt.
Special recognition awards were given to Clete Bracht, Jim Keacher, Jerry Schroeder and Dan Hoffman.
In a touching moment, Kathy and Randy Bernier stood up. Kathy explained that Randy came to thank the Lions. He was born deaf and had recently, with help from the Stacy Lions Club, received a cochlear implant at the U of M allowing him to hear some sounds for the first time.
In the program for the night, the Stacy Lions thanked the citizens for their past and ongoing success. Also “To our friends in the local businesses, we give you our heartfelt thanks.”
For the sponsoring Lino Lakes Lions Club, “Their unselfish efforts in the formation of the Stacy Lions Club 35 years ago ensured that we have become the successful and enduring club that it is today.”