BUSINESS

Greencastle Lions Club makes huge donations

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Greencastle Lions Club secretary Terry Musselman presented a check to Besore director Laura Bailie, left, and capital campaign chair Patti Divelbiss.

Recipients of donations from Greencastle Lions Club Inc. were astounded with the size of the checks they received Thursday night. Literally and figuratively.

Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library was presented an outsized check for $108,000. The Jerome R. King Playground Association got $72,000. The money came from, in the words of Lions Club president JoAnn Williams, "the courage and vision" of members in the 1970s.

The history of Greencastle, the two organizations, and the Lions Club intertwined for decades, noted club secretary Terry Musselman during the annual banquet. A series of events led to the sum of $180,000 being available for charitable distribution.

Two Lions

"This is a momentous occasion for the Greencastle Lions Club," said Musselman. "It is a milestone in the history of the Lions and the community."

The path to the huge donation began in 1859, when a tavern opened at the corner of what is now North Washington and East Baltimore streets. In 1904 Harry McLaughlin purchased the site to construct a hotel. The Lions Club, formed in 1944, bought the property in 1975 and called it the Antrim House.

"They tried to operate the restaurant without much success," quipped Musselman. "We couldn't cook."

The club leased the business to Don and Ann Hummer in 1979, and they bought it outright in 1981. On the advice of Lions International, the club created Greencastle Lions Club Inc. as a separate entity to handle the finances of the sale and management of the apartments on the upper levels. Money started accumulating.

Don Hummer spoke of his days at the popular restaurant. It took off immediately for him.

"It just blossomed. I loved it there."

He recalled regular customers, particularly Floyd and Cora Crider, who dined at the Antrim House three times a day. The Lions Club met there, and Hummer knew what the members would order.

They sold the business in 2005, but Hummer concluded, "The Lions have always been special to me."

In the meantime, the Jerome R. King Playground opened in 1923, and the Besore Library in 1963. They had been founded based on individuals who came home during Old Home Week and realized they wanted to fund projects to benefit the community.

The Inc. bylaws allowed board members to select recipients of the hefty bank account. The legal entity put the money into the Lions Club coffers and disbanded in early 2013. Musselman said the park and the library both exemplified the motto of the Lions, "We Serve".

Reaction

Patti Divelbiss, capital campaign chair for the Besore expansion project, was thrilled with the donation. It brought the fund to about $900,000 of its $1.2 million goal. The new wing was due to be inspected this month, and would hopefully be open to the public at Old Home Week in August.

"You have made it possible, with the community, over the past three years. Thank you."

Lon Barkdoll, president of the playground association board, was shocked at the amount. He acknowledged that both recipients were staples of the community.

"I had no idea it would be near this much money. It's overwhelming. We'll do something special with it. Thank you very much."