Our History

The Albany Host Lions Club and the Troy Lions Club were both founded in 1925. The two clubs joined forces in July, 2006 to become the Albany & Troy Lions Club. Here are histories of the clubs before the merger.



The Lions Club of Albany was organized on May 14, 1925, with meetings set for every Wednesday at 12:15 A.M. at the former Keeler’s Restaurant on State Street.  The first president was Dr. E. Lester Jones, Jr., an Albany dentist.  The Secretary was Edgar G. Luby and the Treasurer was Charles H. Bissikummer, Jr., both of Albany.

The Charter, dated October 2, 1925, was officially presented at a gala Charter Night Dinner, October 7, held in the famed ballroom of the Hotel Ten Eyck.  Mayor William Hackett, in extending the official greeting of the City of Albany said, “I know that this good old city of ours will be a far better city and that it will accomplish far more good because of the Albany Lions Club.”  The Presidents of Rotary, Kiwanis, Exchange and Reciprocity Clubs brought greetings from their organizations.  The Albany Chamber of Commerce extended a welcome, and there were large delegations from Troy and Schenectady in attendance.

The Albany Lions were honored to host three State conventions; the first was in June of 1942, the second in May of 1983, and the third in May of 1999.  At the Club’s 20th Anniversary in 1945, they were honored by the presence of Melvin Jones, Founder and Secretary General of Lions International.  In 1954, the Club sponsored both the Bethlehem and Colonie Lions Clubs.  The Bethlehem Club is strong and active, however the Colonie Club disbanded in 1989.  The Albany Club became a charter member and primary organizer of the Sight Conservation Society of Northeastern New York in 1950.

The Club also helped to establish RISE, the radio reading service for blind and visually impaired people with the public radio station WMHT.  The Albany Lions were involved with the Lions Eye Institute at Albany Medical Center.  The Club raised approximately $10,000 to help with the multi-district project to raise $1 Million to increase and improve eye services in the Capital Region.

The Albany Club has produced five District Governors, two of which, Henry McFarland and James Kent, went on to become International Directors and served with great distinction worldwide.  Our recently deceased member and poet laureate, Walter Holmes, was District Governor and International Counselor before coming to Albany.  We have eight former Presidents currently in the club.  Lion Irving Richter, a former dentist, was president in 1953 and is still a member of the club. Five of our current members are Melvin Jones’ Recipients: Lion Jack Elliott, Lion Rod Kermani, Lion Larry Krug, Lion Harvey Lifset, and Lion Art Pitts.  Located in the “Capital City”, we have had the opportunity to host Governors, United States Representatives, State Senators and several Mayors. The Honorable Gerald D. Jennings, Mayor of Albany, is a current member of the Albany Lions.

Over the club’s 81-year history, The Albany Lions have performed countless deeds and taken on too many projects to enumerate.  However, some of the Club’s more innovative and successful projects include, in the early years, a Soap Box Derby, Babe Ruth Baseball League sponsorship, parades and Christmas Carol singing at the State Capitol.

The Club helped the Northeastern Association of the Blind with many projects over the years, from the buying of a station wagon to the purchase of new equipment for its workshop.  In addition to NABA, the Albany Lions have supported the Albany Boys & Girls Clubs, Adirondack Experience Program, WGY Christmas Wish, YMCA, Salvation Army, Camp Pinnacle and other camp programs.  The Albany Club succeeded in having the long neglected Washington Park Boathouse renovated and revitalized to promote our Winter Carnival in 1980.  In the past, the Club has sold high efficiency light bulbs and sponsored swim-a-thons. The club continues its annual holiday evergreen sale and most recently participated in the “Garage Sale of the Millennium," sponsored by the Times Union at Colonie Shopping Center.  In 1992, a scholarship program was instituted to assist blind and/or deaf college students toward their academic goals and/or college students in a curriculum to aid the visually or hearing impaired.  The Club continues to provide eye exams and eyeglasses to a vast number of children and adults throughout the Albany community.

Over the past three years, The Albany Lions have supported: MD20 Youth Band, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Lions District 20-Y2 Tornado Relief, Lions Eye Institute, Camp Badger (ESSH), Guide Dog Foundation, NYS & Bermuda Foundation, The Sight Society of NYS, Inc. and LCIF.

The Albany Lions Club has labored hard to live up to the dream that its charter members had 80 years ago.  In 2006, with a dwindling of members attending the meetings and participating in fundraisers, the decision was made to merge with the Troy Lions Club.  The Albany Lions Club and the Troy Lions Club had come together in recent years to have joint meetings and work on fundraisers as a group.  It seemed like a perfect fit since both Clubs work well together and also celebrate the same Charter Anniversary in 1925.  


Ever since August 1925, when a dedicated group of 37 men met to form what was to become the Lions Club of Troy, the Troy club has been a leader among its peers. We received our charter from the International Association of Lions in June of 1926, when Dr. D. A. Calhoun was starting his term as president.

In 1937, we sponsored and hosted the New York State Lions Convention, chaired by James T. Whitehurst under the presidency of Clarence G. Simmons, Sr., and in 1956, through the efforts of Lion Simmons, the Troy Lions became incorporated by the State of New York. In 1987, when Jerome C. Ochs was president, the group voted to accept qualified women members.

Our activities are all geared to accomplishing the goals of sight preservation, aiding the blind and community betterment. Over the years, the Troy Lions Club has:

  • Raised funds for servicemen overseas during World War II

  • Contributed significantly to the building of the Lions Eye Institute at Albany Medical Center

  • Sponsored awards at local high schools

  • Collected donations for the Salvation Army by bell-ringing at Christmas

  • Supplied visual testing and screening for pre-school children and senior citizens

  • Supplied eye examinations and eyeglasses for needy individuals

  • Assisted in providing and training a guide dog for a local blind person

  • Provided eight special receivers for RISE listeners

  • Donated two Braillers as transcribers

  • Provided food, clothing and gifts at Christmas for needy disabled persons

  • Collected eyeglasses and hearing aids for re-use and fund-raising

  • Donated funds to install a Hearing Access program at Samaritan Hospital to make the hospital more accessible to the hearing-impaired

  • Donated to the Hearing and Speech Assessment & Rehabilitation Center to establish a loan-out center at Samaritan Hospital

  • Contributed to disaster relief both locally and internationally

The Troy Club assisted in the formation of the Sight Conservation Society of Northeastern New York and continues to be a liberal supporter. Three past presidents of the Society have been Troy Lions, and we currently have members serving on its board, and on the board of the Hearing Conservation Society.

We have made substantial cash contributions to the Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany (NABA), Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF), Sight Society of Northeastern New York, Lions Hearing Conservation Society of District 20-Y2, Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the Lions Quest Program.  The Troy Lions initiated multi-club participation in performing vision screenings at the Hadassah Health Fair at Colonie Center, and they were the prime mover in a multi-zone project to provide assistive-listening devices and Braille signage to the new Junior Museum.

We raise funds for these programs through our Journey for Sight, Seal campaign, magazine subscriptions, sale of energy-efficient light bulbs, 50-50 raffle, sale of Lions mints, sale of Entertainment  books, “Moonlight Scramble” night golf game, popcorn sales at Troy’s Victorian Stroll and other community events, and our annual auction.

The Troy Club meets September through June on the third Wednesday evening of each month at the Red Front Restaurant in downtown Troy; board meetings are on the first Wednesday. The club’s newsletter, Rare Meat, is distributed to the membership monthly. The Club phone number is 518-266-7788, our e-mail address is info@albanytroylions.org and our web page is at AlbanyTroyLions.org.

Throughout the years, our Club’s goal has been to conform to Lions International principles. In doing so, we have endeavored to the best of our ability in financial and manpower aid to make life a little more pleasant for the blind and needy in our community.

A new phase of our history began in July 2006, when we merged with the Albany Lions Club to become the Albany & Troy Lions Club. We enter the 2006-07 Lions year remembering our past, as we build for the future.