The Conroe Lions Club was originally chartered on August 22, 1932; however, the club was not successful and its charter was relinquished.
The club was chartered again on March 7, 1939, and has continued to grow in size, activities, and services. In 1986, the club changed its name and re-registered with Lions Clubs International as the Conroe Noon Lions Club (CNLC) to distinguish itself from the Conroe Evening Lions Club.
Rev. R. L. Sturgis, Jr., Pastor of the First Episcopal Church in Conroe served as the Charter President of CNLC. Other charter officers included B.B. Rice, Vice President; Dr. Paul Hicks, Secretary; and George Darden, Tail Twister. The club originally met at the State Hotel which was located across the street from the Methodist Church. The club later moved to the Birch Hotel which was located on Thompson Street at Phillips Street behind the Dr. Tom Falvey home.
In the 1950s, the club moved its meetings to the First Methodist Church located on Phillips Street at Main. At this time, the Methodist Church had only one building, which was located in the center of the block. The church’s Ladies Auxiliary served wonderful meals, and the club’s favorite was their Chicken ‘n Dumplings.
To help support the Conroe community’s new hotel, the club moved to the Hotel Conroe in 1961, where it met for about 20 years. Membership averaged 40 to 50 members until 1973-74 when Lion Frank Krauskopf was the CNLC President. With Lion Gene Tannery as Membership Chairman, Frank set a goal to double the size of the club, and they did! With this growth, the club had, and still remains, the honor of being the largest club in District 2-S2 which encompasses the greater Houston area.
In 1965, a disagreement with the hotel management forced President John Browder to move the club to the Panorama Country Club for about a year. When the membership voted to return to the Hotel Conroe in 1966, 1st Vice President, and Mayor of Conroe, Carl Barton resigned, refusing to go back to the hotel.
During the 1970s, the club built a storage building at the old VFW Hall in Candy Cane Park. The Conroe Service League used the building for the storage of hospital equipment. Later, the club purchased a lot on North 6th Street and moved the building to this location. A second building was built for the storage of carnival equipment. These buildings and lots were later sold, as they were no longer needed by either organization.
In 1984, the club moved its meetings to the Holiday Inn located on Interstate 5. When the Holiday Inn changed management, the club moved again to the River Plantation County Club in November 1987. But, a dramatic increase in facility and meal costs forced the club to move back to the Holiday Inn in July 1997.
By this time, the Holiday Inn had grown too small and in October 1999, the club began meeting at the Golden Corral with the anticipation of a new county facility in the works. Though the meals were ample and tasty with good deserts, the facility was still too small and not well-arranged for club meetings.
In January 2001, the Lone Star Convention Center opened, and since then, the club has been meeting there each week.
District 2-S2 Governors
CNLC has had ten fine District Governors to serve District 2-S2. Reagan Smith served in 1948 and E. H. Stephan served in 1959. Don Buckalew served as District Governor in 1963-64 while representing his home club, at the time, Humble and later as a member of CNLC, he went on to become an International Director from 1974 through 1976. John Burge served as District Governor in 1978-79; James M. Stewart served in 1986-87; Pat H. Brennan served in 1991-92, and was Counsel Chairman in 1995-1996; Judge James E. Cates, DVM served in 1996-97; Glen Starr served in 2010-2011; N.E. ‘Eddie’ Risha served in 2013-2014; and Karl Johnson served in 2018-2019.
Conroe Noon Lions Clubs has sponsored the following clubs:
|Humble Lions Club||February 28, 1946|
|Conroe Evening Lions Club||January 28, 1956|
|Twin City Lions Club||August 23, 1965|
|South Montgomery County Lions Club||May 3, 1969|
|Panorama Lions Club||November 20, 1972|
|Willis Lions Club||October 28, 1975|
|Conroe Lioness Club||August 21, 1976|
|Conroe High School Leo Club||1980 thru 1990|
|Woodlands Lions Club||September 29, 1981|
|Oak Ridge Area Lions Club||March 10, 1992|
|Lake Conroe South Lions Club||June 5, 1992|
|Grangerland Lions Club||September 19, 1992|
|Houston Lone Star Lions Club||August 17, 1997|
|Spring Old Town Lions Club||August 19, 1999|
|Caney Creek High School Leo Club||March 13, 2003|
|Montgomery County Hispanic Lions Club||February 17, 2005|
|Southwest Montgomery County Lions Club||November 8, 2010|
TEXAS LIONS CAMP – The Texas Lions League for Crippled Children was formed in 1948-1949 and thus began the idea for a summer camp for handicapped children. District Governor and CNLC’s Reagan Smith, with the Council of Governors, pursued the idea of a camp for kids from all over Texas to be owned and operated by Texas Lions. With Lion George Darden’s assistance, Governor Smith and the council secured 500 plus acres of Texas Hill Country land from the Veteran’s Administration. Thus, the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, Texas was born. To support the camp, each Texas Lions Club was asked to give $10 per member per year. Governor Reagan Smith insisted that the CNLC would be the first club to contribute to the camp and it was the only club to contribute in 1949. CNLC became the first 100% contributor to the camp and has continuously made its 100% contributions since that time, contributing longer than any other club.
SIGHT CONSERVATION – Since its early days, Conroe Noon Lions Club has had a very active sight conservation program. In cooperation with Conroe area ophthalmologists and optometrists, for many years the club’s Eyeglass program helped pay for eye exams and prescriptions glasses for needy school-aged children.
In 1996, the Montgomery County Hospital Foundation Trustees dissolved the Foundation and contributed $26,000 to CNLC to be exclusively used in its eye care assistance program for those in need in Montgomery County. With these funds, the club formed the Oliver Kneisley Foundation, so named for a past Lion who was a member of the Montgomery County Hospital Foundation, a true humanitarian and support of this club and our community. The funds from the foundation have been invested so that their earnings continuously support the club’s eyeglass program.
After many years of operation, the Texas Telecom Pioneer Recycling Center in Houston closed its doors in 2006. Prior to closing, several members of the Conroe Noon Lions Club worked with the Pioneers to continue the local eyeglass recycling effort, and the club’s board of directors established the Conroe Noon Recycling Center to continue the recycling program. Club members and other community volunteers collect, sort, clean, repair, and categorize used eyeglasses which are collected from Lions clubs, other service groups, and the general public within District 2-S2. On average, the facility will process approximately 120,000 of donated eyeglasses each year. Not only does the Recycle Center save glasses to be reused, it sends the scrap metal and plastic off for additional recycling. This in turn provides funds for the center and saves materials from being dumped in landfills. Since its inception, the Conroe Noon Recycling Center has provided hundreds of thousands of eyeglasses, sunglasses, and cases via mission trips through numerous other charitable organizations. The distribution of these refurbished eyeglasses expands CNLC’s Sight Conservation Program by restoring sight to people around the world via many vision mission trips.
The Conroe Noon Lions Club Recycling Center provides an excellent back drop to initiate new members to the Lions signature service projects for sight conservation. Often the club uses the center for various meetings and events which further reinforces the size and scope of the club’s efforts.
In 2007, an eyeglass manufacturing facility became a reality for the club to provide more eyeglasses for more children. Area students are examined by participating ophthalmologist and optometrists, then prescriptions are forward to the CNLC eyeglass lab. The lab is operated by Lion volunteers who have received special training to operate the digital machines that cut lenses to prescription accuracy. Once the lenses are cut and checked for accuracy, they are mounted in new frames. These new eyeglasses are then returned to the eye clinics for a final student fitting and accuracy testing under the supervision of licensed professionals. Local school administrators, nursing staff, local ophthalmologists and optometrists work very closely with the club to achieve the program’s high degree of success. On average, CNLC assist 160 students each year with a new pair of eyeglasses.
The club also added vision screenings to its sight conservation efforts. In the beginning, the club assisted District 2-S2 on a few screenings around the Houston area using borrowed equipment. After purchasing an auto-refactor for acuity and a tonometer to measure pressures for early signs of glaucoma, a new sight program began. The club has done vision screenings at area clinics, churches, public events, and assisted other Lions clubs in the area. To better serve children, the club purchased a PediaVision machine in 2010. This piece of equipment has allowed the club to screen hundreds of school-aged children for early signs of sight issues. The efficiency and quickness of the camera gun provides a way to screen children in just a matter of seconds. Club members join with the Conroe Service League each October to screen pre-school children for hearing and vision problems at 20+ day care centers in the Conroe area.
Additionally, in 2010 the Conroe Noon Lions Club began assisting the Montgomery County Homeless Coalition by providing vision related assistance. The club provides bi-monthly vision screenings, examinations, and glasses similar to that of the school program.
Through the Sight Conservation Committee, the club annually contributes to the Lighthouse of Houston, the Lions Eye Bank of Texas, Leader Dog, Benevolent Mission International, and other eye care programs.
SCHOLARSHIPS – CNLC has a very active Scholarship Committee, which awards an annual total of approximately $20,000 in scholarship funds. These scholarships are awarded based on academic performance, leadership and activities, the desire to pursue higher education, and financial need. Consideration is also given, but not limited, to those planning to attend a trade or vocational school. These scholarship funds are available to seniors at Conroe High School and seniors of a state-accredited private/parochial school in the Conroe area.
YOUTH CONTESTS – Other scholarships funds are offered through the Outstanding Youth, Drug Awareness Speech, and Diabetic Essay Contest. In each of these contests, candidates from Conroe High School make application and go through a judging process before a panel of membership. The top three students in each contest receives a $1,000 scholarship to be applied toward their college education. Furthermore, if the first place contestant is unable to attend the District contest, the second place contestant is given the same opportunity. The third place contestant would have the opportunity should the second place contestant be unable to participate in the District contest.
DRUG AWARENESS – In addition to the Drug Awareness Speech Contest, CNLC has been actively involved in the community and schools with Drug Awareness projects. For example, the Drug Awareness Committee has placed over 25 McGruff – Crime Dog puppets in area schools, presented special drug awareness programs, participated in Red Ribbon Week, and conducted poster contests.
LEO CLUB – CNLC also sponsors a Leo Club at Conroe High School. With the help of a school advisor, these young people assist CNLC with our service projects as well as developing their own project fundraisers and community service activities.
LIONS PARK – During his tenure, Past President Dale Hamby initiated and promoted an idea of a “Lions Park” he had started in motion avenues of securing land with Moran Estate and the City of Conroe. Unfortunately, Dale and wife Billie met an untimely death in a plane crash; however, his vision for a “Lions Park” continued. Through many years of change, persistence, and working diligently with the City of Conroe, the sponsors of the Lions Park broke ground on June 17, 1997, and opened the park June 1999. The Lions Park is located off Loop 336 in the back of Robinwood Subdivision. Additions to the park include a runny track and covered pavilion.
Fundraising activities for the club in the early years included broom and mop sales, light bulb sales, and selling various candies.
LIONS CLUB CARNIVAL – In the 1950s, Conroe Lions Club started the annual Lions Club Carnival, which was held in downtown Conroe on Main Street every fall. Some of the Carnival traditions included Lion George Darden at the BINGO tables. He always began with, “Welcome to the Lions Club Bingo, under B- Number 12.” Cards were purchased for 10 cents each, which was later raised to 25 cents. Also featured was the infamous Cake Walk, for which each club member was asked to bring two home-baked cakes. In the 1970s this booth was headed by Lion Jimmie Edwards, who was a State Representative at the time.
Lions Myron Coleman and Russ Clanton operated the Candy Game for many years. Myron would bring Whitman Chocolates from his Capitol Drug Store for the prizes. Another crowd favorite was the Over/Under Board, operated by Lion Russ Clanton and Fred Lamp. Though some may have considered it gambling, it always drew the biggest crowds. In the 1960s, Lion Eddie Stephans, Chief of Police at the time, brought this game to an end.
One of the favorite booths for kids was the Duck Pond, “Win a duck! Just ring the neck. 3 rings for a quarter.” All rookie Lions were required to operate the Duck Pond, because it was wet, dirty, and nasty. This game was frowned upon by the SPCA, because winners were given live baby ducks.
Always a crowd-pleaser was the Dunking Tank, as many tried to dunk the Sheriff, Chief of Police, football coaches, cheerleaders, and Golden Girls. The fiberglass tank, donated by Owen-Corning, was about 12 feet in diameter. Although the members rigged it with a hot water heater, it still got cold when the sun went down.
LIONS CLUB RODEO – In 1988, CNLC cautiously sponsored a PRCA Rodeo. After its first-year success, the rodeo was held annually in September. Unfortunately, with wanting attendance and accelerating costs, the Fundraising Advisory Committee recommended that the club discontinue the rodeo in 2005 and seek other forms of fundraising. The club sponsored the PRCA Rodeo for 17 years.
COMMUNITY PARTNERS – The innovative CNLC Community Partners Program was established in 2006. For a one-time contribution at one of three, now one of four, specified dollar levels, an individual or business becomes a sponsor at all fundraising events and, more importantly, is recognized as a partner in the community all year long through all the club’s service projects. In keeping with the club’s sight conservation efforts, the partnership levels are named Knights of the Blind, Guiding Lights, Vision Ambassadors, and Sight Savers.
LEGEND OF THE LION – Dinner/Dance & Auction – With the establishment of the CNLC Community Partners Program the club was looking for ways to expand its annual Kick-off Dance & Auction which was held each year before the rodeo. In 2006, the club held its first ‘Legend of the Lion’ – Dinner/Dance & Auction where patrons enjoyed a wonderful steak & shrimp meal, a live and silent auction, and an evening of dancing. The huge success of the first dance at Haven’s Landing caused the event to be loved the Lone Star Convention Center because of the need for space to host approximately 700 guests. Each year the Dinner/Dance & Auction has become a highly anticipated event of the entire community, and continues its success year after year.
Other major fundraisers include the Lucky Derby truck raffle, which takes place in November. In March, the annual CNLC Clay Shoot is held on the first weekend, and the club mans the concession stands at the Montgomery County Fair during the last week of March each year. Typically in late April or early May, the club sponsors its annual Golf Tournament at one of the many golf courses in the area. Occasionally the club will conduct roadblocks, White Cane Days, and other fundraising projects as needed. These activities allow the club to make its charitable contributions throughout the years, mainly benefiting the Conroe area.
Honors and Awards
J.O. Sehon Award – In 1946, J.O. Sehon sponsored a trophy that was to be given to the “Lion of the Year” for outstanding achievement in citizenship and Lionism. Lion Sehon owned and operated the Conroe Shoe Shop after retiring from Humble Oil and Refining Company. Because he was very active in Lionism and wanted to recognize other Lions for their work in Lionism, he instituted the J.O. Sehon Award. Recipients of this award have been:
|1946||– W.B Weisinger*||1957||– E.A. Stephans|
|1947||– E.I. Conroe*||1958||– Paul P. Hickes*|
|1948||– W.A. Moon*||1959||– D.L. Oglesby|
|1949||– Wallace M. McCudy||1960||– James E. Gibson|
|1950||– J.D. Clayton||1961||– Larry Evans*|
|1951||– Reagan Smith*||1962||– John D. Browder|
|1952||– Bob T. Shaw*||1963||– Aaron Duskin*|
|1952||– J.W. Rose||1964||– W.P. Terrell*|
|1953||– Chester Oliver||1965||– Myron Coleman*|
|1954||– W. Miller||1966||– E.I. “Tubby Stephan*|
|1955||– Jack W. Lowrance*||(Award discontinued in 1967)|
|1956||– Morris Bateman*||(*deceased)|
Stephan-Reagan Smith Memorial Award – Realizing the importance of recognizing the Lion of the Year, the Allied Conroe Bank instituted the E.A. Stephan-Reagan Smith Memorial Award in 1970. The award is given to the outstanding Lion of the Year, excluding the current President of the club, for “outstanding service in Lionism.” This award also commemorates the service of Lionism of two Past District Governors from Conroe- Lions Reagan Smith and E.A. Stephan. Recipients of this award have been:
|1971||– Don A. Buckalew||1997||– Pat McPherson|
|1972||– Charles E. Walker||1998||– Roy Morton|
|1973||– John E. Burge*||1999||– Reid Harmon|
|1974||– O.E. “Gene” Tannery* & James M. Stewart||2000||– Eddie Risha|
|1975||– James E. Cates*||2001||– Dick Giuffre|
|1976||– Sam Lindsey Jr.||2002||– Frank Krauskopf*|
|1977||– Dale Hamby*||2003||– Charlie Irvine & James M. Stewart|
|1978||– James Dinkins||2004||– Suzette Jones|
|1979||– Rolf Lippke||2005||– Holly Hudler|
|1980||– Bill Hanover||2006||– Wes Carr|
|1981||– Richard Grau*||2007||– Tim Cox|
|1982||– R.E. “Dick” Watson||2008||– Cara Canada-McCollum|
|1983||– Pat Brennan||2009||– Charlie Irvine|
|1984||– Jerry Cash*||2010||– Mike Hansen|
|1985||– Pete Brasher*||2011||– Bob Gunter|
|1986||– Hugh Hennessy*||2012||– Warner Phelps|
|1987||– Martin Green & Randy Malouf||2013||– Warner Phelps|
|1988||– Ted Langworthy||2014||– Scott Perry|
|1989||– Bobby Cantrell*||2015||– Gail Cain|
|1990||– Jim Schrock||2016||– Ricky Morton|
|1991||– Helmut Eindorf||2017||– Rick Camp|
|1992||– Charley VanMetre*||2018||– Stacey Jata|
|1993||– Wally Tuttle*||2019||– Jason Miller|
|1994||– Larry Carnes||2020||– Amanda Anders|
|1995||– Ron Buford||(*deceased)|
|1996||– Mike Davis|
“Rookie of the Year” Award- This award was instituted in 1978. It is given each year to the CNLC Lion who displays outstanding service during his first year of service. Recipients of the award have been:
|1978||– Donnie Cates||2000||– Suzette Jones|
|1979||– David McCarty||2001||– James Boyd & Dorothy Wenker|
|1980||– Richard Grau*||2002||– Cara Canada|
|1981||– Jim Schrock*||2003||– Mel Lonon*|
|1982||– Donnie Buckalew||2004||– Christie Sproba|
|1983||– Arthur Drouin||2005||– Tim Cox|
|1984||– Ron Mittelstedt||2006||– Mike Hansen|
|1985||– Ed Helm||2007||– Judi Fetters|
|1986||– Collin Aldrich||2008||– Amber Jordan|
|1987||– Jay Adams||2009||– Warner Phelps|
|1988||– John Mays||2010||– Emily Hamilton|
|1989||– Ricky Morton||2011||– Pete Martinez|
|1990||– Wally Tuttle*||2012||– Loren Zadowny|
|1991||– Hap Wood||2013||– Josh Cummings|
|1992||– Irene Guajardo||2014||– Nate Arrazate|
|1993||– Steve Schneider||2015||– Delma Landaverde|
|1994||– Taylor McGowan||2016||– Rick Camp|
|1995||– Melanie Curtsinger||2017||– Grey Kelley|
|1996||– Joanne Tuttle||2018||– Michael Freeman|
|1997||– Greg Smith||2019||– Jane Copeland|
|1998||– Wayne Mack||2020||– Connie McNabb|
|1999||– Matt Pursley||(*deceased)|
Melvin Jones Fellowship – The Lions Club International Foundation recognized the need to establish a special commendation for a particular dimension of service. As a result, the Melvin Jones Fellowship was created in 1973. It is LCIF’s highest honor, and was created as a tribute to the founder of the Lions Clubs International. CNLC historically considers for this honor only those individuals who have demonstrated the greatest of Lions values through dedication to service, generosity, and compassion for humanitarian service. The CNLC members honored as Melvin Jones Fellowship are as follows:
|1987||– James M. Stewart||2010||– R.A. “Dick” Giuffre|
|1998||– George B. Darden*||– Wayne Mack|
|– Dr. Paul P. Hicks*||– C. Pat Davis|
|1989||– Russ Clanton*||2011||– Glen Starr|
|– Will Terrell*||2012||– Irene Guajardo|
|1992||– Don A. Buckalew||– George Portele|
|– Pat H. Brennan||– F. Duayne Freeman|
|1993||– John E. Burge*||– Almeta Albertson*|
|– Neil Mathena*||– Lowie K. Rice, DVM|
|1994||– James E. “Doc” Cates*||2013||– Michael Stewart|
|– Kenneth A. Albertson*||– Dan Grimes|
|1995||– Morris Bateman*||2014||– Greg Smith|
|– Frank Krauskopf*||– Mack Barnhill|
|1998||– C.T. “Chuck” Stealey*||– Bob Gunter|
|– O.E. “Gene” Tannery||– Gerald Laake|
|– William “Bill” Vittrup||2016||– Tommie Brennan|
|– L.E. “Jimmie” Williams||– Anne Hoffman|
|2001||– V.R. “Pete” Brasher*||– Cara Canada-McCollum|
|– William M. “Billy Mack” Hill||– Christie Sproba|
|2004||– Paul Kleinpeter||2017||– Bob Hataway|
|– Roy Morton||– Rolf Lippke, DVM|
|– Pat McPherson||2019||– Warner Phelps|
|– Charley VanMetre||– Mike Sproba|
|2005||– Joanne Tuttle||– Tracy Irvine|
|– Wally Tuttle*||(*deceased)|
|2008||– Bobby Cantrell*|
|– Neil Melms|
|– Dennis Watson|
|– Ladoris Cates|
|2009||– Ricky Morton|
|– Charlie Irvine|
|– Donnie Buckalew|
|– N.E. “Eddie” Risha|
|– C. Downey Price|
District 2-S2 Distinguished Achievement Award – The Past District Governors of District 2-S2 joined together in 1997 to establish the District 2-S2 Distinguished Achievement Award. The purpose of the award is to “bestow honor upon those Lions in District 2-S2 who have shown outstanding leadership and service achievement to their Club, Community and District.” CNLC is proud to have had the following members honored with this award:
|1997||– Kenneth A. Albertson*||2012||– Morris Bateman*|
|2000||– Roy Morton||2014||– Wes Carr|
|2003||– N.E. “Eddie” Risha||2015||– Tim Cox|
|2004||– Ladoris Cates||2016||– Donnie Buckalew|
|2005||– R.A. “Dick” Giuffre||– Scott Perry|
|2007||– V.R. “Pete” Brasher||2018||– Karl Johnson|
|2008||– Wayne Mack||2019||– Ricky Morton|
|2009||– Glen Starr||2021||– Warner Phelps|
|2010||– Debi Harrell||– Inge Merle|
|2011||– Charlie Irvine||(*deceased)|
Traditionally, CNLC hold its Annual Christmas Party in December to promote fellowship and fun for its members. The Annual Installation Banquet is held each year in June, at which new officers are installed and members are recognized for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. From 1996 – 2013, the Club held a Lions Family Picnic each October; where members fellowship with their families over a pot-luck meal, games, and activities for the whole family.
CNLC celebrated its 75th Anniversary on June 26, 2014, at Amber Springs – Stonebrook Hall, Montgomery, Texas. The anniversary was celebrated in a gala fashion with approximately 150 people in attendance, with several special guests from around the district and state. The program consisted of special recognition from Lion Downey Price, MD, for the club’s eyeglass recycling program, a Proclamation from the City of Conroe by Mayor Web Melder, and a special anniversary recognition from club member and District 2-S2 Governor Eddie Risha. The key-note speaker was PID Lion Joe Al Picone of Brenham, Texas. In recognition of the theme ‘Celebrating Lions Legacies to Come’, special Lion medallions were presented from club family members representing one generation and passing on Lion service to the next generation of Lions in the club. The club’s Presidents lapel pen, which is believed to be the original, was handed from all Past Presidents in attendance to the new incoming President commemorating the traditions of the past to be handed over to the Lions of the future.