History of the New Britain Lions Club

The New Britain Lions Club was organized July 11, 1922, one of the original five clubs in Connecticut established between 1921 and 1922.

From its inception, a priority for the club has been helping to meet the needs of children, although the club has touched the entire community of New Britain. The President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, in 1930 sent the following telegram to the club:

“There is hardly an institution or community effort where the New Britain Lions Club has not been involved, including the library, both museums, the YMCA, New Britain Symphony, food banks, Salvation Army, Scouts, sports, TheAmerican School for the Deaf, community festivals, and literally scores of others.”

There were several members through the years who displayed extraordinary leadership ability. The New Britain Lions Club has been home to a total of ten District Governors.

Among those who left their mark, PDG Thomas Leonard was one of the founders of CLERF. PDG Howard Wry, who began the annual eyeglass collection, promoted flood relief following Hurricane Diane in 1955, initiated the New BritainLions Emergency Food Bank in 1981, and organized the New Britain LionsCharity Golf Tournament also in 1981. Lion Howard was also responsible for the Lions Leadership Seminar, which was ultimately expanded to serve clubs throughout the state. It is noted that when Lion Howard passed away in 1984, the flag over city hall was lowered to half-staff.

W. Keith Wuerthner, as one of his projects as District Governor, initiated the Fidelco van replacement program. PDG Alan Daninhirsch, for many years has been responsible for the success of the Connecticut Lions Teenage Dances at our International Conventions and the club’s most recent District Governor, Lion Stephen N. Polezonis, assumed the position in July 2007.

Lion Otto Strobino served as District Governor in 1981, and also served as the President of the Connecticut Lions Eye Research Foundation. In 1983 Lion Otto was the force behind having the Main Street Bridge in New Britain named the “Lions Memorial Bridge” and this may be the only bridge in the United States so named.

Lion Otto initiated the planting of the Lions Memorial Forest at the University of Connecticut, was the driving force in producing the first Connecticut Lions History in 1984, and was project manager of the current Connecticut Lions History prior to his death in March 2007.

He became an International Director in 1990 and served as Financial Chairman during his tenure on the board. He was also responsible for establishing the New Britain Lions Community Eye Clinic, which has provided free services since 2000 and serves over 300 people a year. This is one of the New Britain Lions Club’s major service project.

The New Britain Lions Club has set the example of excellence in Lionism. It has served the people of New Britain and has served Lionism in its finest tradition. 

an excerpt from A Brief History of Lionism in Connecticut 2007 - see the website

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