Sister Lakes Lions Club honored for milestone

Clayton Wiker, Jack Gould and Jack Cooper pose for a photo at the table of honor during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Sister Lakes Lion Club, which took place Saturday evening. The three were among the 25 charter members of the service organization, which was founded March 30, 1966. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Clayton Wiker, Jack Gould and Jack Cooper pose for a photo at the table of honor during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Sister Lakes Lion Club, which took place Saturday evening. The three were among the 25 charter members of the service organization, which was founded March 30, 1966. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Since the club’s inception in 1966, the members of the Sister Lakes Lions have accomplished quite a lot to improve the lives of their neighbors in the lakeside community and the greater Dowagiac area.

As other southwest Michigan Lions Clubs set about to honor their fellow service organization’s 50th anniversary with a ceremony Saturday, a few members wrote a list briefly mentioning those accomplishments made by the club over the past half-century — a list that turned out to span four entire pages of the ceremony’s program.

“It’s amazing,” said Gary Anderson, a former international director for Lions Club International who served as the guest speaker for
Saturday’s anniversary celebration. “What would this community be without the Lions Club? It would not be the same.”

Nearly 100 people attended the ceremonial dinner, which took place that evening at the Sister Lakes Lion clubhouse and park ground. In addition to the members of the local Lions club in attendance, members of other regional Lions clubs — including several past district governors — helped honor the Sister Lakes chapter’s half-century anniversary.

The most important guests of the night, though, were three of the founding members of Sister Lakes Lions Club who attended the ceremony — Clayton Wiker, Jack Gould and Jack Cooper.

The three were among the 25 founding members of the Sister Lakes club, which was officially founded on March 30, 1966, with an inaugural ceremony that took place at the Dowagiac Union High School cafeteria. On that night, Wiker was elected as the club’s first president, with Gould as its first secretary.

It was during Cooper’s term as club president in 1971 when the Sister Lakes Lions purchased the 35-acre property that would eventually become Lions Park for $16,000.

Over the years, Sister Lakes Lions members have donated thousands of dollars and countless hours toward causes and projects that have benefited the people of Sister Lakes, Dowagiac and beyond.

Today, the club is responsible for organizing activities such as the annual Fourth of July Fireworks show, held at the park ground, as well as for assembling and donating food baskets for hungry Sister Lakes families during the Christmas holiday every year.

In his remarks to the audience, founding member Cooper urged his fellow Lions to continue recruiting new people into its ranks so the club can continue its mission to improve the lives of others.

“We gotta get people to get involved in the community where we can,” Cooper said.

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