Gagewood Lions Club History
Lion Robert Depke of the Gurnee Lions Club and a resident of the Gages Lake – Wildwood area contacted his friends and neighbors to form a Lions Club. The first meeting was held at Corsi’s Barber Shop in Wildwood and the Club was named GAGEWOOD by taking part of the names of the communities involved.
Gagewood Lions Club was chartered May 20, 1959 with 39 members and sponsored by the Gurnee Lions Club. Meetings were held on the 1st and 3rd Mondays at 8:00 p.m. at Brae Loch Country Club. Richard L. Hamel was Charter President, Richard D. Sorenson was Charter Secretary, and Roy Horton was Charter Treasurer.
Projects started in the early years of the club are: Bratwurst Stand, Lake County Fair; Christmas Tree Sales; Easter Egg Hunt; Little League Baseball.
Gagewood provides eye testing equipment for our local schools and eye exams and eye glasses for needy students. Four Glucometers were purchased for diabetes testing in the schools. Juvenile diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in U.S. This successful project ended when fear of contacting AIDS from a contaminated needle caused the schools to discontinue.
The Lions of Illinois Foundation Campaign to raise $5 million to finance construction of the Lions of Illinois Eye Research Institute, as well as the related campaign to raise $1.1 million to finance the Charles I. Young Professorial Chair were supported by Gagewood Lions with pledges of $5000 and $1000 respectively and payments were made in excess of the pledged amounts.
Lions Quest, a drug awareness program for the 6th to 8th grade students to teach responsibility in all decisions and including a parent workshop was embraced by the Gagewood Lions. Funding for teacher education, required manuals for both Viking and Woodland Schools was provided in full, for several years.
Campaign Sightfirst, a 1989 Lions Clubs International Foundation Project to alleviate all preventable and reversible blindness worldwide, was supported by Gagewood with a pledge of $1000 per year for 5 years. The pledge was met and Gagewood has continued to donate to this project each year. A Melvin Jones Fellow recognition is presented to a club member for each $1000 donated.
The Lions of Illinois Foundation began awarding Lions of Illinois Foundation Fellow Awards in 1996 for each $500 donated. The money is used to provide statewide services to the blind and deaf in Illinois. Gagewood has voted to award 2 LIF Fellow awards per year for the next 5 years.
Warren Township Special Education District was rehabbing their existing facility and needed an addition to the building for an access lift. Lion Robert Depke, Warren Township Supervisor, approached the Gagewood Lions for $100,000 to build this addition and provide the Lions with a lifetime meeting room. The Gagewood Lions meet on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday and the Gagewood Lioness meet on the 4th Tuesday in the Gagewood Lions Den at the WTSED building.
“GALS” Gagewood Auxiliary to the Lions was also formed in 1959. During the 1975-76 Lion year, the Auxiliary was chartered by Lions Clubs International as a Lioness Club. When International President Don Banker dropped the Lioness program, the Lions of Illinois (MD-1) adopted the program for the Illinois Lioness.
In the year 2000, the Gagewood Lioness disbanded and members were invited to join the Gagewood Lions Club that had been previously an all men’s club. Now the club is almost half women which include many couples.
Some projects have been dropped such as the Brat stand at the Lake County Fair due to much competition in food sales and lack of profit. But many one and two day events have replaced it such as Gurnee Days and Fireman’s Expo to name a few.
A club newsletter has kept the club and District informed for the past 10 years and with new technology, the club keeps in contact thru e-mails and internet web site.
Our goals have remained the same though. Service to the community with projects such as Pads Meals, Senior Citizen Lunches, donations to Special Olympics for uniforms, Wildwood and Gages Lake park donations for playground equipment and handicap accessible paths and piers. Eye glasses and hearing aids for residents in need are just a few humanitarian projects that we embrace.
District wide we help other clubs and support their functions. Our club members have been District Governors’, CST’s, Sight & Sound Chairmen, and Zone Chairmen.
We still participate in Melvin Jones Foundation and Lions of Illinois Foundation donations and Tootsie Pop and Candy Day drives.
As we ushered in the new century, we kept an eye on our past heritage, but looked forward to a new future with even better ways to serve as proud Gagewood Lions.

More than 50 Years of Service

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