FAIRFIELD — The “greatest bunch of secular saints in the world” – as the mayor’s proclamation called them – gathered Friday to mark 90 years and recall days when the club’s board of directors and the Fairfield City Council were the same.
The Fairfield Host Lions Club, chartered in August 1924, celebrated nine decades of service and a history of civic leadership so rich that a decade after its founding, club directors would adjourn to begin meeting as the City Council, noted Henrik Hansen.
The emcee of the event, Hansen said before the gathering that he joined the club 35 years ago after attorney Wayne Knight invited him to a meeting.
“I liked it,” Hansen recalled. “I liked the people. So I joined.”
“I thought, ‘This is a really good organization,’ ” he said.
He was also impressed by the civic influence the service club enjoyed.
“I noticed everybody who was anybody in Fairfield was a member,” Hansen said.
Paul Ligda, who served as public defender for Solano County from 1968-88 and is a 40-year member of the Fairfield Host Lions Club, said the group helped him serve the community.
“If I belonged to a club,” he thought, “I’d do my share.”
For the Fairfield organization, that’s included contributions to help people with vision problems – long a mainstay of Lions clubs – as well as a 1985 effort that raised thousands of dollars for a 6-year-old who lost his hearing after contracting meningitis.
Fairfield Host Lions Club helped the child get a cochlear ear implant.
Terry Meader, a certified public account and member of the service club, said the lure of the Lions is fundamental.
“I like to help people and the Lions Club likes to help people,” he said.
Fun has been part of the story, too, even when events went a bit off the rails.
Hansen remembered renting a lion costume for Fairfield’s Fourth of July parade – the last time anyone undertook that task, he said, after the furry garment left him soaking with sweat as he waved to people in the summer sun.
He said while almost everyone is aware of service clubs like the Lions, what the organizations are involved with is often unknown.
“It’s low on the radar,” Hansen said. “They have no idea of what we do.”
The more than $200,000 raised over a decade for the annual Fun on the Run event is part of what the Fairfield Host Lions Club does. Financial support from the club includes contributions to the Fisher House at Travis Air Force Base, where military families in need can stay without charge when one of its members is hospitalized; the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of America; The Salvation Army and Mission Solano.
Rep. John Garamendi, Fairfield Mayor Harry Price, Police Chief Walt Tibbet and Capt. Darrin Moody were among officials at Friday’s event.
After an invocation, the singing of “God Bless America” and saying the Pledge of Allegiance, a candle was lit at an empty table with a chair and a dinner place setting to remember Lions who have since died.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]