Lions Clubs International
The International Association of Lions Clubs began as the dream of Chicago
insurance man Melvin Jones, who wondered why local business clubs -- he was an
active member of one -- could not expand their horizons from purely business
concerns to the betterment of their communities and the world at large.
Jones' idea struck a chord within his own group, the Business Circle of Chicago,
and they authorized him to explore his concept with similar organizations from
around the United States. His efforts resulted in an organizational meeting at a
local hotel on June 7, 1917.
The 12 men who gathered there overcame a natural sense of loyalty to their
parent clubs, voted the "Association of Lions Clubs" into existence, and issued
a call for a national convention to be held in Dallas, Texas, USA in October of
the same year.
Thirty-six delegates representing 22 clubs from nine states heeded the call,
approved the "Lions Clubs" designation, and elected Dr. William P. Woods of
Indiana as their first president. Guiding force and founder Melvin Jones named
acting secretary, thus began an association with Lionism that only ended with
his death in 1961.
That first convention also began to define what Lionism was to become. A
constitution and by-laws were adopted, the colors of purple and gold approved,
and a start made on Lionism's Objectives and Code of Ethics.
One of the objects was startling for an era that prided itself on mercenary
individualism, and has remained one of the main tenets of Lionism ever since.
"No Club," it read, "shall hold out the financial betterment of its members as
Community leaders soon began to organize clubs throughout the United States, and
the association became "international" with the formation of the Windsor,
Ontario, Canada Lions Club in 1920. Clubs were later organized in China, Mexico,
and Cuba. By 1927, membership stood at 60,000 in 1,183 clubs.
In 1935, Panama became home to the first Central American club, with the first
South American club being organized in Columbia the following year. Lionism
reached Europe in 1948, as clubs were chartered in Sweden, Switzerland, and
France. In 1952, the first club was chartered in Japan. Since then, the
association has become truly global, with clubs in more than 170 countries and
geographical areas worldwide.
The proper name of the association is "The International Association of Lions
Clubs." Many Lions, however, prefer the use of the shorter form of "Lions Clubs
Throughout the world, Lions are recognized by the emblem they wear on their
lapels. It consists of a gold letter "L" on a circular purple field. Bordering
this is a circular gold area with two lion profiles at either side facing away
from the center. The word "Lions" appears at the top, and "International" at the
bottom. Symbolically, the lions face both past and future -- proud of the past
and confident of the future. Lions wear their emblem with pride.
The motto of every Lion is simply "We Serve". What better way to express the
true mission of Lionism?
The slogan of the association is "Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation's Safety
The royal colors of purple and gold were selected as the official colors when
the association was organized in 1917. Purple stands for loyalty to friends and
to one's self, and for integrity of mind and heart. Gold symbolizes sincerity of
purpose, liberality in judgment, purity in life and generosity in mind, heart
and purpose toward humanity.