Nancy Shepherdson 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Dads Who Were Lions Often Pass on a Special Legacy to Their Children Barbara Cathey Washington Raised near Seattle, Barbara Cathey was 12 in 1943. At the family Christmas party that year, her father proved to Barbara and her two sisters that he was still young and vibrant, even at age 40. First, an also not-so-young aunt showed off her vigor by standing on her head. Then it was her dad’s turn. He did the “wrestlers’ bridge”–he arched his back and, flinging his head and body back, exultantly slapped his palms on the ground. “My father was an extrovert. He liked to sing. He danced. He taught me the fox trot,” says Cathey, 81, of Colville, Washington. Cathey’s father, Bruce Wallace, was always crazy busy, first with his diner, which was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, then with a roadhouse he built from Quonset huts and at hotels he later managed. But he wasn’t too busy for Lions. His Lions club met in the back room of his restaurant. “I think he put that room on just so the Lions could meet,” says Cathey, who worked at the diner as a girl and served food to the Lions. When Lions went bowling, she tagged along. “I don’t think my dad missed going to many things. I didn’t miss many things, either.” A hard worker with three daughters to feed, her father especially enjoyed the social aspect of Lions. “I think he was interested in the kind of person who gets involved in Lions. They want to get something out of life. They’re active people. They enjoy life,” says Cathey, a former physical education teacher. The Lions club was a perfect outlet for her father’s high spirits. He regularly served as tailtwister and handed out gifts as Santa at Christmas time. He peppered Lions with his sleight-of-hand tricks and corny jokes. His cheerful demeanor masked a terrible hurt. When he was at school as a boy, his little brother accidentally drowned. He rarely talked about it. But that tragedy surely drove him to connect with others, Cathey surmises. In 1971, Wallace traveled to his treasured small cabin to celebrate Thanksgiving, as he always did. He unexpectedly passed away. His legacy as a Lion lives on with Cathey. Her son, Warren, is a Lion in North Carolina. Her own husband became a Lion, through which she befriended Lions in Australia. That friendship led to an indelible Lions-type moment for her in which borders are erased and the world shrinks to a friendlier, more compact place. The club of an Australian Lion she knows is famous for its bread pudding sale and Cathey heard the club’s prized product advertised on a Canadian radio station. Cathey has great respect for Lions. “They’ve lasted a long time. They look at what the need is and they fill it,” she says. Cathey herself has been a dedicated fundraiser and volunteer. She has volunteered at food banks alongside Seattle Lions, collected money for cancer prevention, served as a den mother and a political organizer, and even coached Little League. “I was very aware of what I learned through watching my dad be a Lion: service makes your own life better and so does having a good time,” she says. “I think he was interested in the kind of person who gets involved in Lions. They want to get something out of life. They’re active people. They enjoy life.” Becky Seitel Alabama Becky Seitel grew up in the small town of Carbon Hill, Alabama. Her father, Carl Barker, served as a Lion from 1941 to 1975. Barker died in 1991. Now living in Birmingham, Seitel still has his Lions jacket, tie and pins. Service was part of her father’s identity. He was mayor and also was on the school board and town council. He was so dedicated that he was staffing a Lions club concession stand at a local ball game when his wife went into labor with Seitel in 1955. Her father learned to give back from his own mother. As a youth during the Depression, hobos came to their back door and his mother served them a meal and a kind word. Illness and premature death clouded Barker’s life. His mother and three of his siblings passed away while he was still young. Barker served his community despite battling illness himself. A rheumatic heart condition caused by a childhood illness slowed him down. Perhaps it was his own ordeals that sensitized him to the needs of others. “One thing he often said was that you need to be courteous and kind to everyone because you don’t know what they have been through that day or in their lives,” says Seitel. When Barker died of multiple ailments two decades ago, it was discovered that he had signed an organ donor card. Because of his health, the only thing he could give was his corneas. That was so fitting, says Seitel, because he loved to read. He gave the gift of sight to two people. Her father’s ideals made an impact on Seitel long after he died. Seitel didn’t know a single Jewish person until she went to college. She ended up marrying a Jewish man and once attended a Yom HaShoah service commemorating the Holocaust. Deeply moved, she and her husband created a photographic and art exhibit that told the story of 20 Holocaust survivors living in Alabama. She wondered what her father would have thought of that. She soon found out. “One Veteran’s Day, we were watching a war movie and I recalled that Daddy had a collection of Stars & Stripes newspapers, which I had stored in our cedar chest,” Seitel remembers. She had never really looked at them and had nearly forgotten about them but felt drawn to take them out that evening. “The stories in them were all about the liberation of the concentration camps–many beautifully written by Andy Rooney–and I felt he had led me to them,” she says. Somehow, she believed, her father was reaching out to her and delivering a smile of approval. The sense of his presence overwhelmed her. She wept. “He was such a happy, positive person,” she says. “He was always saying ‘things are going to be all right.’ ” Mary Vande Poel Michigan In the 1940s Mary Vande Poel and her two siblings walked home from school for lunch and ate with their father, who walked home from his business. Except on Tuesday. “That was the day the Lions met. He never missed that,” says Vande Poel, 75. Russell Vande Poel was a charter member of the Holland Lions Club. He joined in 1926 and had perfect attendance for more than 50 years. Lions were part of the Vande Poel home. Young Mary flipped through the LION Magazine, curious about the photos. Her mother, though afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis, cheerfully made calls to gather volunteers for Lions’ projects and the famous Tulip Festival, which her husband chaired for several seasons. “He considered the Lions club an extension of his business and community activities,” recalls Vande Poel. “His business, his community, and the people he met were his fun. The hard work of making things happen was what he liked best.” Russell ran the Superior Sports Store. Knowing that few people could afford a radio at home, he regularly dashed across the street to the phone company and posted the sports scores he gathered on a big board at his store. Men also hung out at the store playing a pinball machine for a nickel. The store once had sold cigars. The building still seemed to emanate a male-only atmosphere and women stayed away. Yet as a girl Mary and her sister were free to roam the aisles. “We were always welcome,” she says. “My dad was a soft touch. If mom said no to something, we’d go to him.” Vande Poel was a driving force behind the sports scene in Holland including the semi-pro Flying Dutchmen baseball team, city leagues, Little League and Rocket football. He was outgoing and approachable. But he took his job seriously. He wore a suit and tie to work. Even as the world became less formal, he never wore anything more casual than dress pants and a sweater to sell basketballs and fishing poles. Mary Vande Poel taught school for 42 years overseas for the Department of Defense. In Ankara, Turkey, she soon learned where the Lions met. When her dad visited, she encouraged him to attend a meeting. “He didn’t go. I think he was worried they didn’t speak English,” she says. Vande Poel died in 1978, a Lion to the end. Son Jim runs the sports store. Back in the States now, Mary owns the land and visits the store almost daily. The store has lots of good memories of a happy childhood and a father fulfilled by his family, business and community service. Rick Trenary West Virginia Fall meant the end of the hot sticky summers, the humdrum routine of school days and then the burst of color among the trees for Rick Trenary, who grew up in far eastern West Virginia. It also meant working next to his dad and brother making apple cider. The annual cider fundraiser of the Bunker Hill/Inwood Lions Club was a fall ritual of Trenary’s boyhood. The Lions made it themselves and poured it into jugs. By the time they got done, Trenary and his brother, Randy, were always covered in sticky cider residue. Their dad, Richard, would then pile with them in the back of a pickup truck and drop them off in a neighborhood to sell the cider door-to-door alongside him and other Lions. “Nearly every house we stopped at in Inwood bought some,” remembers Trenary, “and then we’d go to a local restaurant for burgers and fries with the Lions. We felt like we were part of the group–we grew up in the Lions club.” The Trenary brothers spent many days side-by-side with their dad as he raised money for Lions’ charities, manning the concession stand at athletic events and even selling brooms door-to-door. Trenary is certain his Lions’ upbringing greatly influenced his later life, although he and his brother took very different career paths than their dad. His father, a “whiz with numbers,” ran a local finance company that made personal loans. Trenary and his brother decided they’d rather work with their hands: Trenary became a construction contractor and his brother an ironworker. But being involved in Lions left its mark. “We were in the public eye in our small town from a very early age and my dad made sure we minded our manners and learned how to sell,” he says. The brothers also decided that being a Lion was a way of life that “felt right,” says Trenary. Not all Lions kids become Lions themselves but the two brothers (and Rick’s wife Cindy) found it a natural step to take. The senior Trenary, a past district governor, was a Lion from 1964 until he died in 2010. He was sight chairman of his club for 23 years and now Rick has held the same position for the past six years. Randy runs the club’s monthly Antique Car Cruise fundraiser. “In a way, it’s just an extension of selling cider door-to-door,” says Randy. Now that Bunker Hill/Inwood is a Washington, D.C. bedroom community, they’ve just changed the way they raise money. “But we’re still reaching out to our community in every way we can, just like Dad did,” Randy says. Kathy Kolling Illinois Children often think of their father as a larger-than-life figure, a leader, a hero, a man as respected and admired outside the home as he is at home. For Kathy Kolling and her three siblings, the image matched reality. All his life, Eugene Kolling built community and brought people together. He even started a town. In 1969, he was one of the incorporators of Darien, a Chicago suburb. Farmlands sprouted into subdivisions. Early residents self-mockingly wore T-shirts that read: “Where the heck is Darien?” Kolling helped put it on the map. He served on Darien’s first planning commission and as its first police commissioner. “If you see something that needs doing, just do it,” was his philosophy, says Kathy Kolling. Kolling started Darien Bank (now West Suburban Bank) in 1973 to help finance the building boom that the town’s incorporation set off. He was the bank’s first president. He made it his mission to get to the bank first every day and greet employees and customers as they came in. “His goal was to make sure the community always knew there was a local, friendly banker in town,” says Greg Ruffalo, a former teller. Kolling wanted Darien to be a place where kids would be able to afford to stay and raise their own kids. He saw the town grow and fulfill his dream. The population shot past 20,000. Couples with young children flock to the suburb and its good schools, safe neighborhoods and active civic life. Kolling enjoyed being busy. He worked two jobs when starting out and then went to school to get an education in banking. He taught himself the guitar and the organ. “But he always found time to toss a ball to us in the backyard,” says Robert, his son. His favorite place in the evenings, though, was his recliner. To rest? Hardly. Until precisely one in the morning, day after day, he devoured westerns, thrillers, spy novels and war stories. “He was a man of action, even in his recliner,” laughs Robert. In 1971, because he saw unfilled needs in his new community, Kolling became the charter president of the Darien Lions Club. “He said he only did what any Darien Lion would do, which was serve his community in any way he could,” says Kolling. She remembers him constantly saying he had to go out and “rattle his can” for Lions Candy Day. He served on 34 major committees as a Lion and made it his priority to help the club leadership improve club practices and policies. Over his 40 years with the club, he sponsored and mentored 11 new members and helped build the Darien Fourth of July parade and Halloween party into huge community events. The Darien Lions started with 45 members in 1971 and has more than 150 now. Kolling liked to say he wanted to make the Darien Lions into a “social club with a purpose” and he was rewarded with many Lions’ awards. Still, says his daughter, the pressure of leading all those enterprises never seemed to frazzle him. “He was always home for dinner and always had time for us,” she says. Then he’d just go work on something new, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Kolling’s beloved wife, Mary, died in 1995. Every single day, he visited her grave. Then own his health declined last fall. He died in November. “Gene Kolling simply was a civic treasure,” Lion Ralph “Cash” Beardsley posted online to the local newspaper. “He really put the lie to the saying that ‘nice guys finish last.’ His many positive impacts on daily life here in Darien will last for as long as Darien does.” Now it’s time for Kolling’s children to trek to the local cemetery. The quiet plot is just a few minutes away from their former home, the bank he founded and the restaurant where Darien Lions met.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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