History and Awards Granted

The River Hills Lions Club was formed on March 24, 1975 and chartered on March 28, 1975. It was renamed “River Hills / Lake Wylie Lions Club. Incorporated” in October, 2014.

Officers in 1975

  • President – Jack Rutter
  • First VP – Gene Connell
  • Second VP – Larry Schroeder
  • Third VP – George Beecher
  • Secretary-Treasurer – Harvey Watson
  • Lion Tamer – Dick Michaux
  • Tail Twister – Jack Litton
  • Directors – Dick Berlow, Lee Bullington, Gary Hurt,  Bruce Pickard

The Club started meeting on the second Saturday at 8 a.m. for continental breakfast at the Wreck Center and on the fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m. for dinner at the River Club.

Charter Members Included

  • Richard L. Austin Richard E. Fuller Roger L. Perry
  • Sam T. Ball William H. Geho Bruce L. Pickard
  • George N. Beecher Harold J. Hofsess Stanley R. Roberts
  • Richard Berlow Gary J. Hurt John P. Rutter, Jr.
  • Harold Breitman Robert H. Irwin Michael Schlueter
  • E. Lee Bullington Jack L. Litton Lawrence Schroeder
  • Edgar M. Burkett J. R. Meyer-Cuno Harry S. Summer
  • Eugene D. Connell Richard L. Michaux Harvey L. Watson
  • Robert Enders Robert G. Munroe Ed K. Williford

Gene Connell was chairman for Charter Night on May 9, 1975. The dinner meeting was held at the Regatta Room. District Governor Frank Lineberger presented the Club with it’s Charter and challenged the group to make sight conservation a major undertaking of the Club. The Plaque can be seen in the trophy case opposite the Cove Room at the River Hills Country Club. Harvey Watson accepted a gift of a podium, a gavel and a gong from the Clover Lions Club who was the sponsor of the River Hills group. The speaker for the group was Lion Obe Rosvold, President of the SC Eye Bank in Columbia.

Our speaker at the May 28, 1975 meeting was Larry Harris of the Speaker’s Bureau for the SC Lions Sight Conservation Association. Jack Rutter visited the SCLSCA and the SC Eye Bank in Columbia, SC.

On July 4, 1975 in the area of the General Store complex, the River Hills Lions gave away rolls of candy in the hopes of receiving donations. Most of the donations will go to the SCLSCA and the balance to local community projects such as the Clover Rescue Squad. The first organizer of these projects was Chairman Dick Berlow who was aided by Harold Breitman, Bob Enders, Jack Litton and Dick Michaux.

Our National History

1917: The Beginning – Chicago business leader Melvin Jones asked a simple and world-changing question – what if people put their talents to work improving their communities?  Almost 100 years later, Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, with more than 1.3 million members in more than 45,000 clubs and countless stories of Lions acting on the same simple idea: let’s improve our communities.

1920: Going International – Just three years after our founding, Lions became international when we established the first club in Canada. Mexico followed in 1927. In the 1950s and 1960s international growth accelerated, with new clubs in Europe, Asia and Africa.

1925: Fighting Blindness – Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA, and challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade to eradicate darkness.” Since then, we have worked tirelessly to aid the blind and visually impaired.

1945: The ideal of an international organization is exemplified by our enduring relationship with the United Nations. We were one of the first nongovernmental organizations invited to assist in the drafting of the United Nations Charter and have supported the work of the UN ever since.

1957: Organizing Youth Programs – In the late 1950s, we created the Leo Program to provide the youth of the world with an opportunity for personal development through volunteering. There are approximately 144,000 Leos and 5,700 Leo clubs in more than 140 countries worldwide.

1968: Establishing Our Foundation – Lions Clubs International Foundation assists Lions with global and large-scale local humanitarian projects. Through our Foundation, Lions meet the needs of their local and global communities.

Melvin Jones Fellowship Recipients

The Lions Club was founded in 1887 in Chicago by Melvin Jones. This Fellowship is a token of esteem honoring those members who have toiled diligently and tirelessly over many years for our community and the River Hills Lions Club, and who have demonstrated the highest commitment to our motto “We Serve”. This is the highest award in Lionism and must be authorized and sponsored by the Board.  The River Hills Lions Club bases the Fellowship only on performance and not on monetary contributions.

  • 2017 – Frank Van Leer
  • 2016 – Bruce Roberts
  • 2015 – J.P. Russell
  • 2014 – Neet Rounds
  • 2014 – Bob Daily, First Progressive Melvin Jones Fellow
  • 2013 – Ron Kraft
  • 2013 – Richard Pastor
  • 2013 – Mary Ann Robinson
  • 2012 – Tommy Haughton
  • 2011 – C. J. Nager, Gus Sagos, Dona Van Leer
  • 2010 – David Brown
  • 2009 – RJ Phillips
  • 2008 – Gerry Orlick
  • 2006 – Bob Daily
  • 2005 – Kenneth Shaffer
  • 2004 – Sandy Decker
  • 2003 – David Cox
  • 2001 – Harold Brietman
  • 2000 – Dick Lewis
  • 1993 – Robert Goodell
  • 1992 – Bob Kennedy (Presented to Barbara Kennedy in Bob’s memory)
  • 1991 – Milt Yesek
  • 1989 – Glenn Saunders

Franklin Mason Award Recipients

The Dr. Franklin Mason Fellowship Program is a prestigious way to show commitment to the humanitarian efforts of South Carolina Lions Charitable Services Foundation (SCLCSF) and further support the work of sight and hearing conservation across the state. Districts, clubs and individuals can donate to SCLCSF through the Franklin Mason Fellowship Program. This program was established in 1974 in honor of Dr. Franklin Mason, a Past International Director of Lions Clubs International.

  • 2016 – Gerry Orlick, Frank Van Leer and Dona Van Leer

River Hills / Lake Wylie Lion of the Year

  • 2018 – Mike Heslop
  • 2017 – Rick Thomas
  • 2016 – Dave Allen
  • 2015 – Derek Lewis
  • 2014 – Susan Thomas
  • 2013 – Nick Rounds
  • 2012 – Peg Stoklas
  • 2011 – Steve O’Brien
  • 2010 – Lee Kehler
  • 2009 – Neet Rounds
  • 2008 – Pat Kirby
  • 2007 – RJ Phillips
  • 2006 – Paul Boggs
  • 2005 – Gerald Orlick
  • 2004 – Debbie Dagilus
  • 2003 – Tom Stall
  • 2002 – Ken Shaffer
  • 2001 – Bob Daily
  • 2000 – Dan Johnson
  • 1999 – John Chislett
  • 1998 – Arnie Bendet
  • 1997 – Dick Lewis
  • 1996 – Bill Heflin
  • 1995 – Ruth Dahlstrom
  • 1983 – Steve Wilson

New Lions of the Year

  • 2018 – Barbara Rowley
  • 2017 – Gene Foster
  • 2016 – Neil Nelson and Ed Knoll
  • 2015 – Bill Holleman and David Allen
  • 2014 – Jimmy Lee
  • 2013 – Susan Thomas, Derek Lewis, Kathy and Terry Rapp, Kristi and Matthew Lyons
  • 2012 – Morgan Lombardo
  • 2010 – John Mackay
  • 2009 – Lee Kehler
  • 2008 – Lou Girolami
  • 2007 – Pat Duffy, Ralph Byra
  • 2006 – Tom Grove, Donna Grove
  • 2005 – Peter Rogers
  • 2004 – Brian Kerler, Dona Van Leer, Frank Van Leer
  • 2003 – Patricia Slaymaker
  • 2002 – Barrett Smith

Unsung Hero Award

This award recognizes members of the community who have quietly made significant, long-term contributions to the community.  They need not be Lions Club members.

  • 2017 – Frank Keefe, Bagel Boat Owner
  • 2016 – Kathy and Terry Rapp, The River Hills – RH/LW Emergency Medical Service
  • 2015 – Ellen Gillis
  • 2014 – Judy Brown
  • 2014 – Gene Berris
  • 2014 – Don Long
  • 2013 – Hank Gerald
  • 2012 – Karen Ottenii
  • 2011 – Jack Leff
  • 2010 – Becky Stevenson
  • 2009 – Gene McCarthy
  • 2008 – Bill Martin and Ben Rawls
  • 2007 – Jack Haber
  • 2006 – Jane Chislett
  • 2005 – Stacy Waddell
  • 2004 – Martha Simmons
  • 2003 – Bob Daily
  • 2002 – Larry Edson
  • 2001 – Dick Pastor

Past Presidents of River Hills Lions Club

  • 2017 – Neil Nelson
  • 2016 – Bessie Meeks
  • 2015 – Len Fleet
  • 2014 – Lee Rowley
  • 2013 – Peggy Upchurch
  • 2012 – Frank Van Leer
  • 2011 – Frank Van Leer
  • 2010 – Jerry Epping
  • 2009 – George Gessner
  • 2008 – Dona Van Leer
  • 2007 – RJ Phillips
  • 2006 – Robert Daily
  • 2005 – Paul Boggs
  • 2004 – Bob Tarte
  • 2003 – Dave Brown
  • 2002 – Sandy Decker
  • 2001 – Gerald Orlick
  • 2000 – C. J. Nager
  • 1999 – Russ Leinbach
  • 1998 – Harold Breitman
  • 1997 – Chuck Henry
  • 1996 – David Cox
  • 1995 – Chuck Davis
  • 1994 – Dan Johnson
  • 1993 – Dick Lewis
  • 1992 – Bruce Thurston
  • 1991 – Guy Knouf
  • 1990 – Art Aldrich
  • 1989 – Byron DeWalt
  • 1988 – Lyman Telfer
  • 1987 – Mel Nield
  • 1986 – Don Stewart
  • 1985 – Bob Kennedy
  • 1984 – Ed Jones
  • 1983 – Colin Browne
  • 1982 – Ed Geary
  • 1981 – Glen Saunders
  • 1980 – Bob Hanna
  • 1979 – Howard Erwin
  • 1978 – Bill Herring
  • 1977 – Dick Berlow
  • 1976 – Harvey Watson
  • 1975 – Jack Rutter