This is the 38th year of the Moultonborough Lions Club,
serving the community proudly and proving the gathering place for
many of the town’s community events. In 1963, 21 members of the
Lions Club of Laconia/Gilford, who resided in Moultonborough,
Center Harbor, Tuftonboro, and Sandwich met and decided to form an
“Service Club” on this side of Lake Winnipesaukee.
As required by the Lions
International, in Oak Brook, Illinois, the 21 members formed an
“Independent Service Club” and applied to the Lions Club of
Laconia/Gilford for sponsorship. The Moultonborough Lions Club was
granted it’s charter on October 29, 1963. In a ceremony held on
December 7, 1963, the first elected President of the
Moultonborough Loins Club, Russell Lamprey, was presented the
The early meetings of the Loins Club
were held every third Monday at the “Country Fair Inn”, at the
intersection of Route 25 and Route 109, currently known as
“Maurice Family Restaurant”. The members discussed how the role of
the Lions Club could fit in the community, by taking care of some
needy residents and the community as a whole. Most of these
members were already active in community affairs outside the Lions
Club, and had many ideas in what they would like to do to improve
the quality of life of the needy and the community.
The first obstacle became apparent
very quickly. They needed to raise money if they were going
accomplish any of their goals. After considering a number of
ideas, they decided Bingo was the best function to accomplish
this. They looked at Bingo as not only as a way of raising money
but also as a fun activity to bring the community together for a
regular social event. After reviewing several locations around
town to hold Bingo they were presented with their second obstacle
– a place that could comfortably accommodate 150 to 200 people. In
the late 1960’s there no place in town for this activity.
In late 1968, early 1969, the Lions
Club found a 22+ acre parcel of land at the junction of Bodge Hill
Road and Route 109, which was affordable in a central location of
town. The club not having the funds to pay the $16,000 cost of the
land, four members took mortgages on their homes to secure the
loan from Meredith Village Savings Bank. This purchase was
completed in 1969.
The foundation and building, alone
with the electrical, plumbing, and heating were completed by local
professional contractors. The interior walls, ceilings, along with
all the painting were completed by volunteer Club members.
In the summer of 1970, the Lions
Club Hall was open and Tuesday Night Bingo began. In 1970 and
throughout the 70’s, Bingo was very popular around the country,
and consider somewhat of a pastime. As expected the crowds were
150 or more every Tuesday night enjoying a night of fun and
excitement. It also was very successful in raising money and
quickly became the primary source of income for the Club. As the
Bingo interest faded most everywhere, the crowds also faded at the
Moultonborough Lions Club. So after thirty years of being a staple
in town, Tuesday Night Bingo came to a close in 2000.
With the Club hall, which included a
kitchen, the members met twice a month. The first Monday of the
month, the Club held it’s business meeting. On the third Monday of
the month, the members held their Dinner Meeting. A Kitchen
Committee was formed, who decided the menu of the month, cooked
the meal, and served it. The monthly meal meeting was nothing
fancy. Just the bare tables with a few set up with plates, forks
and knives. The Treasurer would collect four or five dollars from
the members to cover the cost of the meal. Most of these meetings
would last about an hour, however there were times that long
discussions were required to resolve some issues.
Almost immediately the Club Hall
became the community center for several non-profit organizations.
The use has grown steadily through the years that today the Lions’
use of the Club Hall is only 10%. The gatherings of other
organizations, weddings, reunions, and private functions utilize
the other 90% of the Club Hall use. The biggest day of the year
for the Club Hall is when the entire community converges to
celebrate the birth of America, on the Fourth of July, where town
parade ends. The Lions membership cooks and feeds well over 250
people for this celebration.
In 1976, Lion Joe Rembaum, led the
membership in starting up the “Bicentennial Trust” charitable
endowment fund. This is a perpetual fund that has a current value
of $36,000, used to award High School seniors scholarship grants.
There were two grant winners for last year’s class of 2000, each
receiving $1,000 scholarships.
In eight short years the Lions’
activities had grown to the point the Club Hall needed to be
expanded for storage. In 1977, two wings were added on, going out
the back of the hall. One wing was for the “Lions Den”, for a
secure room to hold exclusive Lions meetings. The other wing was
for much needed secured storage.
The next major change for the Lions
was not decided by them but by the State of New Hampshire. There
had been a number of traffic on Route 109 at the bend in the road
near Bodge Hill Road. In 1985, the state decided to reroute Route
109 by putting an extension in that went directly to Route 25. For
this road work to be done, the state had to take two acres of the
Lions property, of which the Lions was paid $1.00. There was
another three acres separated from the Lions by Route 109. The
three acres were sold to the neighbor for $800.
While doing a drive by, in the Fall
of 1986, Lion Mort Connors saw flames coming out the kitchen side
of the Club Hall. He rushed to the firehouse and called the alarm.
The firefighters came a running and saved the Club Hall. With the
money from the insurance, and a lot of hard work of many people of
the community, members and non-members, the Club Hall was
restored, with a more modern kitchen.
The next major program the Lions
became associated with was the
“Meals on Wheels”. The North Country Elderly Programs,
based in Berlin, had previously served some meals out of the Club
Hall. They approached the Lions to use the Club Hall and Kitchen
to serve the elderly of Moultonborough and Sandwich daily meals in
the Hall and deliver to the shut-ins. To meet the requirements of
this program, another addition to the Club Hall was needed to
store the food and supplies. The Lions whole heartily welcomed the
program, and with a $16,000 grant from the Doris L. Benz Trust, a
400 square foot addition was built and deeded to the Lions. The
program went into full swing in 1989 and is going strong today.
The Moultonborough Lioness Club and
the Ossipee Valley Lioness, were both founded by the
Moultonborough Lions Club, after Lions International inaugurated
the Lioness program in 1968. By the 1990’s, the International
Lions had begun inducting women. It became clear it wasn’t
necessary to have three separate clubs with redundant programs. So
the two Lioness clubs voted to dissolve their clubs and join the
Moultonborough Lions Club. The merger of members allowing the
women to join the previously all male club, did cause one of the
male members to resign, but the rest of the membership considers
the merger a big success. The membership has flourished since the
merger and in the year 2000, the ladies comprise one third of the
membership. The first woman president of the Moultonborough Lions
Club was, Betty Wasson, elected for the 1997 term.
The Summer Concert Series, sponsored
by the Moultonborough Lions began in 1995. Lions Loretta and Tom
Reed presented the concept to the membership from an idea that
came from them organizing the town’s 4th of July
parades. The concept was adapted with overwhelming enthusiasm by
the membership and the community. The Lions reached out to the
local businesses to build a gazebo for the bands to stage
themselves for the listening pleasure of the audience. Again the
local support was fantastic. The supplies and labor were all
provided to build one of the largest and most unique gazebos in
the entire state. The “Community Bandstand” was dedicated by 4th
of July Parade Grand Marshall, Annie Forts, on July 4, 1997.
Wednesdays in Moultonborough, during the summer, are now know as
“Concert Night”. A great time to be had by all.
Also in 1997, the Moultonborough
Lions Club helped to launch the “UP Syndrome Fund”, with one of
the biggest events in the history of the town. The Lions inducted
Annie Forts into the membership and agreed to start a charitable
endowment fund to support Annie Forts’ projects with Down
Syndrome. The big event to kick off this effort was held on March
10, 1997, in celebration of Annie’s 30th birthday. The
program became so successful that it is now a program of it’s own,
with a fund of over $150,000.
Over the last 38 years the Moultonborough Lions Club has had
good times and bad times, as any organization would. Luckily
for the Lions and the Community it has been more good to great
times, to become of the most respected organizations in not
only the area, but the entire state. There are many programs
and people who are not mentioned in this history due to the
lack of space, which are as significant as those mentioned
here. Several members have risen in the ranks of the state
leadership, and have represented the local and state Lions at
the national level. Their work continues and their history is
long from being over. They continue to up hold their honored
motto – “We Serve!”