Long-time Niles City Club calls it quits

Published 5:57 am Wednesday, May 28, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The Niles City Club, like so many other clubs of its kind, has experienced a steady decline in membership over the years.
And, when around 20 club members met at Brentwood Assisted Living Community on South Third Street in Niles Tuesday for what would have been the club's last meeting before the summer anyway, they already knew it was the club's last-ever official meeting.
When members voted on the future of the club earlier this year, eight voted in favor of continuing, while seven voted in favor of discontinuing the club, which in recent years has opened up for female membership.
But when there became so little support to continue with the club, Odehnal said, they decided to discontinue it.
Jim Doolittle, a long-time club member, said several older members have passed away while other members have moved out of town, causing the decline in memberships that has resulted in the club's recent decision.
Odehnal chronologically went through the history of the club at Tuesday's luncheon.
The Niles City Club began as the Niles Exchange Club in 1936, he said.
In November 1949, however, the club changed its name from the Niles Exchange Club to the Niles Service Club, and attorney Harold Klute became the club's first president, he said.
In June 1950, it was decided to change the name to the Niles City Club.
In 1961, the club had 75 members and in 1964, 62 members, most of whom were professionals, such as dentists, bankers, teachers and business and industry leaders.
Odehnal also mentioned a headline published in this paper on March 25 1961: "Friendliest luncheon club serving the community for over a decade."
The club is to the community probably most known for its past official Niles High School football banquet, the Old Folks Christmas Gift Program, and an awards luncheon for basketball and wrestling.
Until this year, however, the club also put on the scholarship banquet for graduating seniors from Niles and Brandywine high schools.
This year's banquet was held at the Niles Inn and Conference Center last week.
In addition, the club has had a tradition of bringing in speakers addressing a wide variety of topics, such as the development in the Middle East, security forces during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and motor homing through Alaska, to name just a few.
Club member Bill Griffiths said the most famous speaker to address the club, however, is probably Father Edward A. Malloy, president at the University of Notre Dame.
Although the club is officially closing, club members discussed the possibility to meet informally for lunch once a month in the future.