History of Wichita Downtown Lions Club


                In the fall of 1919, Miles LaSater, an Oklahoma City Lion, was sent to Wichita to become president of the Federal Land Bank. He discovered there was no Lions club in Wichita, but being a Lion at heart, he requested George Cunningham, to come to Wichita and help organize a Lions club.

                Thus it was through the combined efforts of LaSater and Cunningham that the first Lions club in Kansas came into existence in Wichita. It was chartered with 40 members on December 4, 1919, as the Lions Club of Wichita. John H. Boys, first vice president of the Central State Bank of Wichita, was the charter president.

                On January 14, 1936, the club was incorporated and on June 8, 1960, the official name was changed to Wichita Downtown Lions Club.

                But even before 1919, Wichita was exposed briefly to Lionism. A Lions club had been chartered October 11, 1916, but at its second meeting the members decided to devote their efforts to a stronger commercial alignment. Reports are the club disbanded, then reorganized into a group that became the forerunner of the present Wichita Chamber of Commerce.

                Charters granted in 1916 and 1919 are part of Wichita Downtown Lions Club archives.

                New clubs we have sponsored include: Augusta, Burrton, Caldwell, Clearwater, Great Bend, Halstead, Wichita East, Wichita South, and McConnell Air Base.

                As far as we know, there is no other club in the world that has provided two international presidents – Charles H. Hatton in 1932 and Claude M DeVorss in 1964 – and three international directors.

                One of the outstanding events in the history of our club took place in October, 1954. International officers and the Board of Directors met in Wichita for Lion Claude’s first board meeting. On Wednesday, our regular club meeting time, members of the Executive Board of Directors were guests of our club, the first time that this organization of the International family of Lionism so honored an individual club.

                Today the Wichita Downtown Lions Club co-owns Camp Hyde, located 20 miles southwest of Wichita , with Greater Wichta YMCA.  The Wichita Downtown Lions Club and the Wichita YMCA have been partners in Camp Hyde since is was founded in 1923.  The partnership was forged through the relationship developed with A.A. Hyde and club president John Boys as board members of the YMCA.  The original camp was operated on 18½ acres along the Arkansas river near north of Wichita. The  camp was named after A.A. Hyde, president and founder of the Mentolatum Company in Wichita.  Mr. Hyde was a big supporter of the YMCA and was one of those responsible for donating land for the YMCA camp in Estes Park, Colorado.  Camp Hyde operated in its original location until 1951 when the Wichita Valley Center Floodway was constructed in the area.  Mr. Hyde again stepped forward and donated land for its current location southwest of Wichita.    [History of work with Camp Hyde , however, goes back to 1923 when the first Camp Hyde was created at a location then about 4 miles north of Wichita in what is now the 1200 block of Sullivan Circle. The undeveloped 18 ½ acres were donated by A.A. Hyde, president of the Mentholatum Co. in Wichita. The camp was operated until 1951 when the Wichita Valley Center Floodway was built in that area. The present Camp Hyde property was also given by A. A. Hyde.]

                We organized and operated the Workshop for the Blind which is now called Envision. We also organized and  support, along with area clubs in the county,  the Vision Impared Program.

                The Wichita Downtown Lions Club serves today – supported and challenged by a rich heritage of commitment and accomplishment. 

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