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Perham Lions honor charter member

Marie Nitke/FOCUS The Perham Lions Club celebrated its 40th anniversary with a special gathering during Turtle Fest. Charter member John Knight, right, was honored as a special guest (he is the only charter member still on the club's roster). Pictured with him are the current and incoming club presidents, Earl Rydell and Diana Osterfeld. The event took place on June 23 during Art in the Park. It's the first time the Perham Lions Club has held a celebration of this sort to mark an anniversay.

The Perham Lions Club marked its 40th anniversary with a celebratory gathering during Turtle Fest.

John Knight, the only charter member of the club who is still on the roster, was honored as a special guest. The event took place Saturday, June 23, which also happened to be Knight's 87th birthday.

Knight has held high-ranking roles, including District Governor, during his 40 years with the Lions. He is well known in the Perham community for his active involvement in the local Boy Scouts, for his frequent singing performances around town (especially at area nursing homes), and for the many years he taught shop class at Perham High School.

"He's been very well thought of in Perham," said Larry Olson, a fellow Lion and friend of Knight's.

Others agreed: Both Bonnie Genin, a Lions District 5M9 Co-Chair, and Donald Hendrickx, the current 1st Vice District Governor, said they owed their involvement in the Lions to Knight, who installed them as new members.

"I never would be where I am today if it hadn't been for John," said Genin.

Others present at the celebration called Knight "a pillar" of the community and the Lions Club, and described him in terms like "very friendly" and "always smiling."

Olson said Knight actually started the Boy Scouts in town, and got the demo derby races rolling for both the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. He was also active for years with Calvary Lutheran Church.

Knight said the Perham Lions Club has changed and grown quite a bit since its beginnings. Forty years ago, he said, the club's main objective was to sell light bulbs for the "Good Sight Program."

Today, the Perham Lions contributes more than $120,000 a year to various causes, and its more than 40 members donate hours of their time to community projects. Over the years, the Perham club has received state and national attention for its efforts.

The 40th anniversary gathering took place at old St. Stanislaus Church - soon to be the Perham Center for the Arts - during Art in the Park last Saturday afternoon. According to incoming club president, Diana Osterfeld, it is the first time the Lions has held a celebration of this sort in honor of a noteworthy anniversary.