Local Lions Clubs recognized

Volunteers at the Lions Field in Wardsville put up protective nets over the bleachers Monday evening. Two of the country’s top Lions Clubs are located right here in Central Missouri, the Wardsville club and the Westphalia club.

Volunteers at the Lions Field in Wardsville put up protective nets over the bleachers Monday evening. Two of the country’s top Lions Clubs are located right here in Central Missouri, the Wardsville club and the Westphalia club. Photo by Deborah Cote.

Two of the top 10 towns in America with the most Lions Club members are located in Central Missouri.

Lions Club International recently reported that Westphalia is No. 4 and Wardsville is No. 9.

With 120 members and a total population of 388, that figures out to 30 percent of Westphalia being in the Lions Club.

In Wardsville, 221 of the 1,517 residents, or 15 percent, are in the club.

Roger Kloeppel has been a member of the Westphalia Lions Club for 25 years.

“It’s a tight-knit community and the club does a lot for the community,” he said. “We’ve always had active participation and that brings a lot of camaraderie with belonging.”

Perhaps the group’s biggest contribution to the community came after it started in 1958 when its first major project was constructed, a ball field just southwest of town, near U.S. 63.

A second ball field and concession stand was added in the 1980s.

Kloeppel said civic groups like the Lions Club are a major part of everyday life in small communities like Westphalia.

“It seems like it’s passed on from generation to generation,” he said. “My father was a lions member and I followed in his foot steps.”

Longtime Wardsville Lions Club member Tim Wilbers said the club began in 1964 with their first project being the ball fields they built off of Route M.

Seven of the original members are still involved with the club.

“There’s lots of camaraderie here,” said President Randy McDonnell. “I was new to the area so it was a great way to get to know everyone in a community and get involved.”

“We’re a very young club right now,” Wilbers said. “We have members from in their 20s on up. Many times whole families, like mine, get involved, generation to generation. Without the facilities the club has provided, there wouldn’t any place for the community to hold events.”

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