The Kiwanis Club of Paris was chartered on March 16, 1945 with 52 members. The club president was Jimmy Lawson of radio station KPLT.
The club started the Rural Urban Dinners in the county. Their purpose was to get rural and city men together for an evening of fellowship. Kiwanis members took covered dishes to the first one held in Cunningham.
The club also began a campaign to lift the rural communities out of the mud. Later, the project became known state wide as the Farm-to-Market Highway program.
It initiated what later became known as Paris Parks System by cleaning up and placing playground equipment in the area now know as Culbertson Park.
The club held “Go To Church Sunday” drives for a number of years to encourage attendance. These were very successful.
· Odis Rucker – 1946 · Paul J. Files in 1947. Club letterhead on documents dated in 1947 show that the club was meeting on Tuesdays at 12:05 p.m. at the Gibraltar Hotel. · Aubrey R. Cartlidge 1948 · Jack T. Adams 1949 · L. B. Killebrew 1950 · Noah Cleveland 1951. The first Key Club in Lamar County was organized at Cunningham. Lonnie Kennedy was its first president. · Ray Sissel 1952 · Jesse Thrasher 1953. Annual Pancake Day began in 953 with 58 club members and wives doing the chores..one day event raised 235.88 profit. Fed approximately 350. · Gyles Norwood 1954 · Ray Wunch 1955 · Wm. C. Ragan 1956. Paris High School Key Club was organized with Joe Monk as its first president. · Fred Clemons 1957 · Jack Mackey 1958. In 1958 the club was meeting at the Nicholson House on Bonham St. · C. B. Coons 1959 · Dean Aikin 1960 · Jeff Methven 1961 · Randy Morphew 1962 · J. B. Bankhead 1963 · Marshall Nichols 1964 · Richard Babb 1965 · Grady Morphis 1966. During Grady’s tenure as president he attended Kiwanis International conventions is Austria, and Portland, Oregon. The first round pancake grill was manufactured. John Tower, a Kiwanian and first Republican Senator from Texas came to Paris, was hosted by our Kiwanis Club, where he delivered a speech. · E. L. McEver 1967 · Vernon Daniel 1968, this year the club was meeting at the old Holiday Inn on Hwy. 271. · George Roper 1969. North Lamar Key Club was sponsored. · Jimmy Guthrie 1970 · Bill Phillips 1971 · Paul D. Payne 1971-72 · H. (Jay) Thomas 1972-73 · Roy M. Welch 1973-74. The first Keywanette Club in T/O District was organized at North Lamar. · Eugene Thomas 1974-75. Starting this year and for at least 20 years the club provided the award for the Lamar County Food & Fiber Producer recipient, and honored farmer and ranchers with a “Washpot Chili” feed. · Walter Franklin 1975-76 · James Allcorn 1976-77 · J. L. McVay 1977-78 · Albert Ware 1978-79 · Don Viergever 1979-80 · W. G. (Hoot) Gibson 1980-81. With about 80 club members Pancake Days grossed about $22,000. A special service project that year was to collect moneys for the restoration of the Statue of Liberty. This was a county-wide project. Later Hoot would help to start Lamar County Crimestopper in January of 1986. · Lonnie Kennedy 1981-82 · Charles Christian 1982-83, for years the club membership had been fluctuating between 30-40 members. As a club project Charles organized a Member Recruiting Committee. This committee was very successful and our Club membership was increased to almost 100 members. On Tues. June 14th 20 of the new members were inducted into the club. The Club was meeting on Tuesdays at the Quality Inn. During his presidency Charles and wife went to Washington D.C. hosting 38 youth. · Herbert (Hub) Martin 1983-84 · George Kimbrough 1984-85 · Ed Atkins 1985-86 · Hamburger Hindman 1986-87 · Joe Iglehart 1987-88 · Gary Pirtle 1988-89 · Frank McHam 1989-90 · Don Pryor 1990-91 · Ray Banks 1991-92 · Gary W. Ballard 1992-93. During this year the club meetings moved from Sizzlin Sirloin on Lamar St to the new Holiday Inn on Loop 285 and Pine Mill Rd. · Larry Tischler 1993-94, the club meeting moved to the Sirloin Stockade at Lamar and 12th Street. The club fed 4656 paid customers at Pancake Days. · Russel Figgins 1994-95, this was a memorable year for the Kiwanis Club of Paris. Our club celebrated its 50th anniversary. During a celebration banquet, at the Love Civic Center the first lady members of the Kiwanis Club of Paris were inducted. Also on this anniversary none of the charter members remained in the club. Only two were alive (Odis Rucker and Ray Sissel). Current membership was 125, a new high in membership for the Club. · Bob Phillips 1995-96 · Doug Sims 1996-97 · Tim Masters 1997-98 · Todd Varner 1998-99 · Joe Farmer 1999-2000 · Linda Suarez 2000-01, Linda was the first female Club President and she went on to be Division Lt. Governor 2001-02. · Ronald Stripland 2001-02, during Ronald’s term our club meetings moved to Chili’s and then to the PJC Ballroom. · Rickey Mackey 2002-03 · Phil Payne 2003-04 · Don Wall 2004-05 · Jon McFadden 2005-06 · Darrell Hawkes, Sr. 2006-07 · Tish Holleman 2007-08 · Rudy Kessel 2008-09. This year the annual Pancake Days fundraiser served a record 6640 people.
* Lynn Patterson 2009-2010. Ramp Project becomes big service project.
* Robert High 2010-2011. Another record year for Pancake days, extra day added (Thursday). Imagination Library project started.
* Johnny Williams 2011-2012. Another record year serving Pancakes. Club grows, and conitues to serve Lamar County.
*Jerry Williams 2012-2013. Another big year for Pancake Days. Positive growth in the Club. Paris Club sponsors new Aktion Club, chartered in September of 2013.
*Thom Callaway 2013-2014. Another record year for Pancake Days 8378 served. Club signed pledge for Elimintae project to be a Model Club (pledged $82,500 over next 5 years). Awarded 18 Zeller Fellowships.Chartered new K-Kids Club in August 2014 at Crockett Intmd School campus.
*Claudia McKinney 2014-2015.
*Don Dickerson 2015-2016.
Even though we have held many successful projects, we have had some “flops”. A “one time” project was a Kiwanis Donkey Baseball Game even though the club won. Another was the Gainsville Community Circus where the club made $80 profit.
The club held a variety of fund raising projects during its first 50 years that enabled it to serve the community. In the early years, we held Rummage Sales (now known as “Garage Sales”). We parked cars at the fair for many years. We sold Christmas Fruit Cakes for many years until everyone had their refrigerators full of the “things”.
During the first 50 years our community service projects have been many and varied. In addition to those already listed, the club has held annual “Shoe the Shoeless” and “Clothe the Needy” projects; supported Salvation Army and Goodwill; purchased baby chicks for 4-H & FFA youth; sponsored baseball and softball teams; played Santa Claus to residents at all county Nursing Homes each year at Christmas; provided prescriptions, food, rent, transportation and on and on to hundreds of needy individuals.
The one project that was our greatest undertaking is the development of Camp Kiwanis through a lease contract with the Army Corp of Engineers at Pay Mayse Lake. This was the first time that the Corp had ever entered into such an arrangement. Several thousands of dollars and un-countable hours were put into this development. The facility is being utilized more and more by youth groups in the area.
Our recent club community services projects include donations to:
· CASA for Kids · Leadership Lamar County to help with Meals on Wheels · Camp Kiwanis · Aiken Elementary 5th graders trip to Sky Ranch · Aiken Elementary 5th graders Socrates project · Scholarships for high school seniors · Day camp and picnics at Camp Kiwanis for Kids Hope USA and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Boys Scouts use this facility also. · This year we have partnered with Boys and Girls Club to help with some of their projects. · We sponsor three Key Clubs at area High Schools and two Builders Clubs at Middle Schools. · In 2007 our donation to Roxton ISD Band Fund helped purchase new instruments. · Our Young Children Priority One project includes volunteers reading to children at T. G. Givens three times during the school year and each child taking a copy of the book that was read to them home. Then at the end of school during “Play Day” each child got to choose another book to take home. · Lamar County Head Start. · The baseball program sponsored by the Breakfast Optimist Club. · Young Life · Children’s Advocacy Center · Paris Teen League Baseball · Lamar County 4-H · March of Dimes · Project Graduation at area high schools · Fellowship of Christian Athletes · Special Olympics Bowl-O-Rama · The Kiwanis International Foundation and Texas-Oklahoma Kiwanis Foundation both give scholarships for college.