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Greater Brewton Lions Club celebrates 75th anniversary

By By Kerry Whipple Bean
Seventy-five years ago this month, 38 men met at the Lovelace Hotel to form the Brewton Lions Club.
Decades later, the group has helped shape the history of Brewton, founding the city’s most popular event, funding scholarships and community service projects, and devoting itself to one of Lions International’s chief aims, sight programs and services.
The Greater Brewton Lions Club celebrated its 75th anniversary last week with a banquet at the Country Club of Brewton. There, President Ken Corbin listed some of the activities Lions have been involved with over the years in Brewton.
The club provides eyeglasses for the needy in the community, donates to sight programs locally and worldwide, contributes to eye restoration research and helps send children with Type I diabetes to Alabama’s Camp Seal Harris. In Brewton, beyond founding the Blueberry Festival, the group raises funds through its annual pancake breakfast and by decorating the community with American flags on patriotic holidays.
The group has even purchased a guide dog named Brewton and provides a scholarship each year to a T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal graduate.
Longtime member Margaret Westrope — the local group’s first female inductee — said she can’t imagine Brewton without the Lions Club — and can’t imagine not being part of the group.
The group meets at 6 p.m. every Tuesday at the Country Club of Brewton.
Wade said he joined as soon as his job in Pensacola switched from shift work to a day position.
Wade was encouraged to join by his longtime friend Hugh Miller, and he was initially attracted to the fellowship of the group. But Wade said he soon discovered the joy in the service projects in which the club takes part.
While the club does not run the Blueberry Festival anymore, it does retain exclusive rights to the T-shirt sales each year.
That fundraiser has joined annual events such as the pancake breakfast and a car show to help support the club’s projects, from giving eyeglasses to the needy to sponsoring East-West baseball in south Alabama.
Looking ahead, Westrope said she hopes the group will be able to continue to attract new members.
New member Bo Bell was inducted last week during the anniversary banquet.
Also during the banquet, Lions honored two of their longest-serving members, Luther Gillis, who has served 65 years, and Charles Northcutt, who has served 63 years.
Lions Club members join by invitation, Wade said, but anyone who wants to join the club can call any current member to express interest.
Wade said the club needs all of its members, new and long-serving, to help fulfill the group’s mission.