Well, we had quite a day at the Pascagoula Kiwanis Club on January 21. The long-time local civic club held a Past Presidents Day to honor those who had served in that capacity over the years, and it was a wonderful moment for those guys and gals, as well as for the club itself.
The Kiwanis Club of Pascagoula was created in 1945, making this year the club’s 75th anniversary. My father, Max Lucas, was one of the original members, and was president in 1951-52. As I was growing up, I saw how much he enjoyed being a Kiwanian, and how much good the club did for the community.
Therefore, when I came back to Pascagoula after college and established myself in the business scene, it was only natural that I would choose Kiwanis as my civic club of choice. I have been a proud member since 1977, and, following in my father’s footsteps, served as president in 1995-96. So, hey, I’ve been a “Paskiwanian” for 43 years now.
Our Past Presidents Day was nothing short of a huge success. We had 21 past presidents in attendance, really a huge number considering the average at such events.
Man, it was good to see some of the old heads make it back for a visit. Judge Dale Harkey, who I came up in the club with; Steve “The Cutter” Vlahos, one of our most unique leaders; Rick Arevalo, the best Santa Claus portrayer you’ll ever see; Rogena Woods-Mitchell, who brought (and still brings) energy and panache to the club. Then there was Woody Wood, kind of our version of Mr. Kiwanis, and K.C. Mangal, as dedicated a member as you’ll ever see. For me, there was a special feeling of seeing Jen Robertson, who graduated from PHS with my son Wesley and is now a club stalwart, and Allison Cook, who was so valuable as my assistant at SRHS a while back and is now a community leader in her own right. I could go on and on, with stories about each of the former presidents who were there and whose friendships I cherish.
Speaking of stories, each of the honored group got up and spoke, all with wonderful and often humorous memories of their time with Kiwanis. There was a lot of emotion in everyone’s voice, and the thread that ran through all the comments was how much being in the club had meant to them.
So, it was a day of great joy and of meaningful reflection. Yeah, I’m biased, but the Kiwanis Club of Pascagoula has done some really amazing things for our community over the past 75 years. Our emphasis has always been on youth, and the children and young adults of the Pascagoula area have been served extremely well.
Maybe in another column, I’ll be more specific and detailed about all the positive projects that Pascagoula Kiwanis has contributed over time. For today, I just wanted to speak to the worth of civic clubs in general and Kiwanis in particular, and to the camaraderie being in such groups produces. Back (way back) in the day, we used to sing a song at the club meetings, “I’d Rather Belong to Kiwanis.” At our recent gathering of past presidents, I swear I could hear that old, once familiar tune wafting through the air, ringing out in the background.
Richard Lucas may be contacted at [email protected].