Lions members gather to celebrate founding father

The Grand Cayman Lions family recently celebrated the birthday of its founder Melvin Jones with an appeal to help the citizens of the eastern Caribbean islands of St. Vincent and Grenadines, St. Lucia and Dominica.

At the party held at the SeaHarvest Restaurant at Sunset House, guests were encouraged to give generously to aid the islands, the residents of which woke up Christmas morning to a natural disaster as a result of a freak storm.

Twelve people lost their lives and many are without homes, water and basic food items after the storm passed through the area.

During the event to mark the birth of the Lions founder, the Lions Club of Grand Cayman awarded Lion Philip Barnes the Melvin Jones Award, the highest award presented by Lions International.

The Lions Club of Tropical Gardens added to its membership. John Ferguson was inducted by Lion Elva Smith. Mr. Ferguson is the second male member to be added to the club.

The afternoon luncheon included a presentation on occupational fraud by Detective Constables Paul Inniss and Reuben Foster of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service Financial Crimes Unit and recognition of all Melvin Jones and Progressive Melvin Jones Fellows.

The history of Lions began with Mr. Jones, who was born Jan. 13, 1879, in Arizona.

As a young man, Mr. Jones made his home in Chicago, Illinois. He worked in an insurance firm, and in 1913 formed his own agency. He joined the Business Circle, a businessmen’s luncheon group, and was soon elected secretary. This group was one of many at that time devoted solely to promoting the financial interests of their membership. Because of their limited appeal, they were destined to disappear. Mr. Jones, then a 38-year-old business leader, had other plans.

“What if these men,” he asked, “who are successful because of their drive, intelligence and ambition, were to put their talents to work improving their communities?” Thus, at his invitation, delegates from men’s clubs met in Chicago to lay the groundwork for such an organization and on June 7, 1917, Lions Clubs International was born.

Mr. Jones eventually abandoned his insurance agency to devote himself full time to Lions at the organization’s headquarters in Chicago. Under his leadership, Lions clubs earned the prestige necessary to attract civic-minded members.

The association’s founder was also recognized as a leader by those outside the association. One of his greatest honors was in 1945 when he represented Lions Clubs International as a consultant in San Francisco, California, at the organization of the United Nations.

He died June 1, 1961, at the age of 82.