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Linton Civitan celebrates 50 years of helping others

Friday, November 9, 2012

Joyce Illingsworth addresses the gathering after receiving the Civitan's highest member award ---- the Club Key. She was recognized as the "backbone" and untiring supporter of her husband Ralph's involvement in Civitan Club operations on the local, state and national levels for decades.
(By Nick Schneider) [Order this photo]
A half-century of service, dedication and contributions to the Linton/Greene County community were recognized Thursday night as the Linton Civitan Club celebrated its 50th anniversary.

A group of 25 men from the Linton-area hosted the club's first charter night banquet on Nov. 8, 1962 -- exactly 50 years to the day prior to Thursday night's gathering at the Saron United Church of Christ.

The first dinner was conducted in the Glenburn Rest Haven dining room.

Kenneth Medlock, (at left) a 48-year member of the Linton Civitan Club greets one of the club's charter members, Ray Correll, of Linton, at Thursday's 50th anniversary program.
(By Nick Schneider) [Order this photo]
Representatives from Civitan chapters in Vincennes and Sullivan helped the Linton club organize and receive its charter.

Eight of the charter members are still alive and one, Ray Correll, attended the banquet.

The club's two longest standing charter members, Edgar Green and Clarence Creager -- with 50 years of membership each -- were both unable to attend. Both received special plaques from Civitan International denoting the half century of membership. The two men will receive the awards at a future meeting.

Linton Civitan member Ray Spencer, at left, chats with Barbara Reed at Thursday night's Civitan 50th year celebration banquet at the Saron United Church of Christ in Linton. A variety of historical items related to the club's founding and activities through the years was on display.
(By Nick Schneider) [Order this photo]
Ershel Miller, a teacher, served as the club's first president. The occupations of the charter members were diverse -- a chemist, a forester, meat cutter, several salesmen and merchants, an engineer, church pastor, a farmer, a barber, a realtor, and two jewelers.

Correll said it's been 40 years since he was a club member, but he has fond memories of those 10 years that he did serve.

He recalled the club started to help others and not themselves.

Wendy Spurlin, at right, presents Joyce Illingsworth with the club's highest award ---- a Club Key.
(By Nick Schneider) [Order this photo]
He remembered that the club met at the old library building and a member even had to crawl through the window one cold morning to unlock the door when members arrived before the library officially opened.

He reminisced that the early day club bought three dozen of donuts for $1 at Johnny Padgett's Bakery to enjoy at their meetings.

The service mission of the club to help its community hasn't changed.

Keynote speaker of the night Marta Ford, a Michigan resident, who serves as Civitan's North Central District Governor, applauded the Linton club for its longevity and exemplary service to its community.
(By Nick Schneider) [Order this photo]
Correll said one of the first projects during the new club's first 10 years was Toys for Tots, which is still the bread and butter project of the club.

"We thought that was an original name, but later on found out that the Marines have a Toys for Tots program. I don't know which one of us was first," Correll said. "Two or three months before we would have a drive for used toys from the community. We repaired things and painted them."

Another of the larger early projects took on by the Civitan Club was the purchase of and installation of street signs for the city of Linton.

Linton Civitan Club President Kevin Cross shows a 50-year token and certificate sent from Civitan International commemorating the half-century of community work.
(By Nick Schneider) [Order this photo]
"We worked on Saturdays to install them and get the job done. I'm pretty sure most of our citizens today don't know that we accomplished that project," he said.

"Looking around here tonight, I'm proud of all of you."

Other charter members included: Robert L. Cravens, Ronnie D. Luxton, James M. East, John F. Datena, Kenneth F. Barnes, the Rev. Harold E. Scott, Keith Thornton, Douglas Trusty, Cecil F. Shelton, Richard R. Fields, Richard D. Jerrels, Wayne O. Weaver, Robert Jerrels, Darrell L. Gabbard, Fred J. Allen, Con Butler, Jack Shelton, Wayne W. Wakefield, Ronald R. Sparks, and Harold Powell.

A special presentation was the highlight of the anniversary program.

Joyce Illingworth, of Linton, was the recipient of the club's highest honor given to a member -- the Club Key, presented by former president Wendy Spurlin.

Illingworth was described by Spurlin as the "backbone" and untiring supporter of her husband Ralph's involvement in Civitan Club operations on the local, state and national levels for decades.

The Illingworth's, who formerly operated Illingworth Pharmacy, are re-locating to Lafayette, where they are already making plans to form a new Civitan chapter in that city.

Illingworth said she was "speechless" after receiving the award and thanked the club for the recognition.

"I thank you for this honor," she said.

On the international level, Civitan's major focus is toward helping people who are mentally and physically disabled.

Civitan funds the Civitan International Research Center, a research and treatment facility for mental retardation and other developmental disabilities (MR/DD). However, on the local level, clubs are involved in a variety of fundraising and service projects.

Keynote speaker of the night Marta Ford, a Michigan resident, who serves as Civitan's North Central District Governor, applauded the Linton club for its longevity and exemplary service to its community.

She told the gathering that the Linton Civitan has given 340,180 days of service to the community in 50 years.

Ford pointed out that the club has 57 current members and those members have 932 combined years of service through Civitan.

"We need all of your numbers because that is what brings this club together. It is your experience, your excitement, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and the blending of ideas that make the Linton Civitan Club," Ford said.

She recounted the success of the local Toys for Tots/Clothe a Child program, which has gathered $399,715.57 in the last 11 years.

"That's a lot of money. That's a lot of work and effort that paid off for you plus 6,438 children. Linton you are amazing. You are an amazing organization," she said.

Ford said while the Toys for Tots/Clothe a Child project, which was founded in 1968, has touched thousands of lives, her favorite project sponsored by the club is its own sponsorship of two junior Civitan Clubs in Linton-Stockton High School and Linton-Stockton Junior High School.

"Sponsoring a junior club is an investment in our future," she stressed. "You are giving the young people in your community the chance to pay back with the opportunity to serve others."

The club's current president, Kevin Cross, summed up the gala evening by saying, "As we look over everything that has happened tonight, we think about everything that this club has done so far in our community it is very humbling. I think it's very awe-inspiring to see how much Linton Civitan has accomplished in this community in the realm of history. Even so, we still have to look forward to the future. We've had 50 great years here at Linton Civitan. We are constantly looking for more and more people to be involved in this great organization."

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