Jay Copp 2014-03-12 05:27:43
Names often are appropriate to a person. Sports are a prime example. Baseball has Matt Batts and Bob Walk. Football includes Takeo Spikes and Mac Speedie. Don’t forget golfer Chip Beck, high jumper Nathan Leeper and sprinter Usain Bolt. So what are the best names of Lions? With 1.35 million Lions, there are plenty of aptronyms, names suitable to their owners. There also are plenty of names, period! The membership database at Lions Clubs International lists no less than 11,057 Smiths*. John Smith is the most common name with 216 listings. William Smith is right behind with 214. But Lions take pride in being informal and casual. So it’s no surprise another 64 Lions identify themselves plainly as Bill Smith. The Smiths of the world must tire of being confused for someone else. But their name problems pale in comparison to the Kims. That’s the most common Korean surname, comprising about 20 percent of the population in Korea. The Lions’ database counts exactly 55,237 Kims. Most but hardly all are from Korea. You can go ask Alice: Alice Kim of Zion Township in Illinois. If you’re a Lion, it’s not easy to keep up with the Joneses: all 5,441 of them. Start with Aaron Jones of the Daleville Lions in Alabama and finish with Zelda Jones of the Vera and District Lions in Spain. Melvin Jones, the founder of Lions Clubs, died in 1961. But Melvin Jones Jr. (no relation) is alive and well in Georgia. In fact, he’s the president of the Camilla Lions. Definitely related to him is his father, Melvin Jones Sr., also a member. True to the leadership skills of his famous namesake, Melvin Sr. once served as club president. Speaking of service leaders, nine Lions are named Paul Harris. Mr. Harris founded Rotary. We’ve haven’t heard if these Lions are regarded a little coolly at their clubs but maybe that’s just because the tailtwisters, asleep at the switch, aren’t up to speed on Rotary history (nor should they be!) Famous names are shared by Lions. You name it, and a Lion probably has that name. John Wayne rides the range as a Durbin Lion in West Virginia. Charles Dickens may or may not write the club bulletin, but he presides as president of the Lower Valley Lions in New Mexico. Lions can wax poetic about volunteering. It’s a good bet a few of the 11 Robert Frosts are willing to do just that. At least one U.S. club holds a madcap chariot race as a fundraiser. The Sacramento Sierra Lions in California don’t. But maybe they should: one of its members is–no kidding–Ben Hur. Sing, Lions, sing. Lions love to belt out a tune or two. So it’s no wonder there are 12 George Harrisons, two John Lennons and even a Bruce Springsteen of the Dowagiac Lions in Michigan. Rock n’ roll Bruce famously sings of escaping down Thunder Road, but the musical Bruce was tooling around the Jersey Shore on his Schwinn when our Bruce took the pledge in 1964. The name game can get kind of crazy. The Lions claim almost as many as Elizabeth Taylors–six–as the actress had husbands (seven). You can also say Taylor was far more than Richard Burton can handle because there are only three of his name in the Lion kingdom. Sports are an especially fertile ground for Lions to make their mark name-wise. We count 19 Michael Jordans, just a few more than the hits he accumulated in his inept baseball career. There are only two Mike Jordans, calling into the question the slogan to “be like Mike.” Five Larry Birds turn up in the database including the actual Boston Celtic legend. The so-called Hick from French Lick was once a proud member of the French Lick West Baden Lions in Indiana. He retired from basketball prematurely because of back problems, so we can cut him some slack for quitting Lions. We are getting off course here on names. What counts are not famous names but names suggestive of what Lions do and who we are. So it’s nice to know 34 Lions are named Nice. It’s also no surprise that Nice, France, contains 17 clubs, whose members surely are uniformly nice, relatively speaking (Nice, of course, is pronounced as “niece”). To get back to indicative names, 15 Lions are named Kind and another 15 answer to Mr. or Mrs. Mercy. Here’s a good one: 342 Lions are named Good. Well done, Lions. Of course, the descriptive power of that word goes further. Alex Goodman of the Mamakating Lions in New York is one of 10 with that suggestive last name. Another Lion whose reputation precedes him is David Goodfellow of the Montgomery Lions in Minnesota. Jo Ann Goodfellow of the Dupo East Carondelet Lions in Illinois, on the other hand, surely has already heard all the jokes that can possibly be generated by a gender-specific name. Names are good, bad and ugly. But it’s good to know the good seem to outnumber the others when it comes to Lions. Consider Jim Goodheart of California and Anthony Goodheart of the Springfield Franconia Host Lions in Virginia. Yes, those are just names, but there may be something to the notion that a name is destiny. We suspect Jim, for one, is true to his name: he not only is a district governor but he also belongs to the San Jose Scales of Justice Lions Club. For his part, Anthony has given his life to service as he became a Lion way back in 1954. Heck, that’s so far back that the Detroit Lions were good then, too. Lions' names are downright Biblical, and we don’t mean Abraham, Job or Isaac (though there are 410 Lions with the first name of Abraham, 531 with that last name and exactly one Abraham Abraham of India). The Bible speaks of faith, hope and charity, three virtues prized by any religion. There are 207 Lions with Faith as a first or last name, 231 with Hope as a name and, coming out on top, 321 Lions named Love– 15 with that as a given name. So Lions are proof of the truth of the Biblical passage that there are faith, hope and charity and the greatest of these is Love. Speaking of Charity, 13 Lions bear that surname and 17 more have it as given name. Among the giving crowd is Charity Good of the Tri City Professional Lions in Florida. She joined Lions in 2010, and we’re happy indeed Charity Good serves. We can go on almost forever with aptronyms. Three Lions–Alan of Australia and Clifford and Gerald of Canada–not only aid their community but can also be properly greeted as “Mr. Helps.” Lions light up the world, and 64 members are completely correct in saying they are among the Lights of the world. We have legions of Knights as well. Yep, we ride into towns on our white horses and screen kids for sight. So the most memorable Knight is David Knight of the Yukon Territory in Canada. He’s from–no kidding–Whitehorse. Sometimes names invoke meetings and Lions’ practices. These names can ring a Bell–1,257 spell their name thusly. Singing trumps roaring, at least in terms of monikers. Ninety-nine Lions are Sing, but the only Roar is Jesper of Denmark. Lions focus on eyes. H. Luke Eye has focused on the Franklin Lions since 1988. The secretary for the Franklin club, Jane has an eye for detail and one as a last name. That gives the club a set of Eyes. And, surely, we’re not joking about this: Shirley Eye is a proud member of the Fredericksburg Lions in Virginia. Lions are no different than anyone else. We hear athletes praise a teammate or a competitor as a “pro’s pro” and men salute a buddy as a “man’s man.” In turn, Lions boast that a colleague is a “Lions’ Lion.” Well, that is sometimes literally true. There are Lions from Lyons in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Wisconsin. Yep, Lyons Lions clubs. Add to that list the Lyons Muir club in Michigan and the 18 clubs in Lyon, France. So there you have it–or them, actually. But we saved the best for last. Our database shows 137 members with the last name of Lion. Alas, it’s unproven if any of these members are real people. Lions are notorious jokesters. Clubs file membership lists with names such as “Joe Lion.” A quick check of the handful of U.S. entries show these are tonguein- cheek. Nearly all of the other “Lion” last names are from clubs in Indonesia, India and Pakistan. A check of the address list for these entries or membership dates reveals these also are most likely spirited gestures of Lions’ solidarity, not real people. So we think it’s mean-spirited to conclude that the Lions are lying about their inauthentic Lions. We did find a member with a bona fide Lion name: Robert Lion, past president of the Waldwick Lions Club in New Jersey. He served as a Lion for 17 years before “retiring my number,” as he puts it, last August. But he’s still president of the Waldwick Volunteer Ambulance Corp., so he’s not only still a Lion in name but a Lion in spirit. But even if we can’t put our finger on a Lion among Lions we can find the fundamental spirit of Lions in names. Go west to Delta, Colorado, and head to the homes of Lions’ first family of service: Nick and Dana Serve. She’s a past district governor, and he’s the club president. Oldest son Chris Serve also serves as a Delta Lion, as does his wife, Dana Serve, and second son Nathan Serve. A grandson, Nicholas Michael “Scooter” Serve, also attends meetings. As district governor, Dana “got teased a lot” about her name. She was fine with that. “That’s right. That’s our name. We serve,” she good-naturedly responded to Lions. A name like that has its advantages, says Nick. “It screens out the salesmen,” he says. Yep, the actual pronunciation of the German name is “sir-vee.” So even among those named Serve what really counts is not a name but the spirit of service that Lions embrace. *The membership database records we accessed included Lions who left the association in recent years. So some summary numbers cited in this story may be higher than actual totals of current members. But for comparison purposes the larger numbers cited are revealing, and any Lions listed by full name are current members as of press time. Note: LCI membership totals are accurate. There are 1.35 million Lions with active membership.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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