Celebrating 75 years
Estherville Kiwanis Clubs celebrated 75 years in style on Tuesday filling over half the big hall at the Estherville VFW.
Hosted by the Estherville Noon Kiwanis, representatives from its in-town satellite clubs-the North Star Nights, the Kiwanis Aktion Club and the Estherville Builders Club-also were in attendance.
Area clubs bringing interclubs to the celebration-with at last four members from each-were the Milford Kiwanis Club, the Spencer High Noon Kiwanis Club and the Spencer Daybreakers.
Former Kiwanis members present included Bob Stevens, George Chipman, Gordy Cornwall, Chris Kjar, Jerry Wallace and Verlyn Vedder.
Three current members-Max Pelzer, Dr. Steve Rose and Dr. Rich Lepird-all have been with the Estherville Kiwanis for over 50 years. Each shared a couple stories of Kiwanis fellowship.
Dr. Lepird said when he first joined Kiwanis-which he put as December 1954 or January 1955-it was unethical for doctors to advertise. Joining Kiwanis and other community groups was a way to get your name out in the community.
Lepird recounted when the Estherville Kiwanis sponsored a Passion Play that was performed at Roosevelt Auditorium.
“A camel got loose and chased Miss Holmes (an English teacher) down the hall,” Lepird said. “This happened only a few months after I was in town.”
Lepird said he was appointed to find lodging for the animals in the play.
“I did find a barn, but guess who had to clean up afterward,” he said.
A second story he told was about former member Pastor Paul Wiegman, who came to town in 1972.
“One day he (Pastor Wiegman) gets up on a chair and says he has an announcement. ‘I’m going to get married. Her name is Linda and she’s got red hair.'” Lepird recounted, noting that Pastor Wiegman also had red hair.
Pelzer talked about how Kiwanis not only raises money and gives money away-club members also “do things.”
He told when the club used to put on travel shows in Roosevelt Auditorium-shows where someone came in and presented a slideshow about a trip they had taken.
“We packed the place and made money for years,” Pelzer said. “Now you can watch TV and see travel shows every day.”
Pelzer also told how Kiwanis members used to make a big sculpture every year for the town’s Winter Sport Festival.
“Doc Lepird would bring his tractor and it was always 20 below,” Pelzer said.
Dr. Rose came to town in 1964. He recounted how he was first asked to join Rotary, but then someone said he couldn’t join Rotary because there was already an optometrist in the group.
Rose also told about a trip he and then Kiwanis member Gene Koons and two others took a trip to Miami, Fla., for a Kiwanis International meeting in 1967. Koons had an airplane of his own and flew the group there.
Rose recounted how he had drank too much coffee at the start of the flight and the troubles associated with that until they reached their first stop in southern Illinois. After their second refueling in Alabama, the plane barely cleared some trees on the takeoff and at 1,000 feet, the engine overheated.
The foursome made it safely to the meeting and Rose described it as a well-organized event.
He concluded by saying, “Kiwanians have a good time and they’ll continue to have good times.”
Norma Beaver talked about some of the contributions Kiwanis had made over the years-from scholarships provided annually for high school seniors to the most recent activity of helping with landscaping at Lincoln Park.
She concluded with a quote, “Children are like wet cement, whatever falls on them, makes an impression.”
Estherville Noon Kiwanis Vice President Tara Paul then presented the “Kiwanian of the Year” Award to Norma Beaver.
Estherville Kiwanis plans a second 75th anniversary event-a family picnic celebration in September.