History Of Cudahy Wisconsin Lions  Club

The Cudahy Lions Club was Organized with 21 charter members and sponsored as a club with Lions International by the South Milwaukee Lions Club. They held their first meeting on March 29, 1950 and at that meeting, Lion Larry Kelly was elected President, Fred Izzo Secretary and Bob Omelina Treasurer. The Charter was presented to the club on May 10, 1950 by District Governor A.M. Bearder at St. Joseph’s Hall in Cudahy.

In November of 1950 the club’s Charter President, Larry Kelly, started our number one project “THE CUDAHY COMMUNITY BLOOD BANK” which is still operating today and presently held at the NEW CUDAHY FAMILY LIBRARY, five times a year. This Blood Bank has saved the community millions of dollars, with a total of 50,000 pints of blood having be donated.

In December of 1950, the Cudahy Lions began providing help to needy families of Cudahy. The Club initially gave gift certificates for food and clothing on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Currently they donate to Project Concern and Interfaith who in turn have list of individuals who are in need.

In July of 1953 the Cudahy Lions held their first soft ball game against South Milwaukee Lions. This was an annual event that lasted for over 42 years. They also played the Cudahy-St. Francis Kiwanis for some 20 plus years. Fun was had by all, with Cudahy Lions winning over So. Milwaukee.

In December 1953, the members of the Cudahy Lions went door to door collecting donations for the construction of Trinity Hospital in Cudahy now St. Luke’s South Shore. Later they made a donation of $10,000.00 toward construction and expansion of that hospital.

In January 1956, the club made it’s first donation to Leader Dogs and the Wisconsin Lions Foundation.

In February 1956, the Cudahy Lions sponsored the Greendale Lions Club.

Also in 1956, the Cudahy Lions started their scholarship program. The Club awarded the first recipient, Milan Maximovich , who received $200. The program has grown to six (6) scholarships totaling $8,750.00 since 2002. One scholarship awarded in the name of Lawrence Kelly (Our 1st President) and another in the name of Charles (Chic) Fojtik. To date, 206 scholarships have been awarded to the amount of $147,150.00. See our

Over all these years, the Cudahy Lions have been interested in the schools of Cudahy. On November 24, 1958, they sponsored the Northwestern University Marching Band to perform at the Cudahy High School Memorial Field. In 1979, they donated $10,000.00 toward the computers in the grade schools. Over the years, they sponsored the Athletic Banquets for the Cudahy Football Program. In 1981, they awarded trophy plaques to the Cudahy High School Basketball team, the only Cudahy Team to go to STATE for basketball. In 1986, the Club sponsored the “Quest Program” in the Junior High School with an initial grant of $20,000.00 and paid subsequent maintenance and teacher training fees which totaled to about $50,000.00.

In 1970, the Cudahy Lions sponsored the St. Francis Lions Club.

Other projects the Cudahy Lions have undertaken over the years include: Contributions in excess of $10,000.00 toward future expansion of Trinity Hospital – In 1974, presented the city with a check for $2,500.00 to help purchase a new ambulance – Donated $5,000.00 toward the expansion of the Cudahy Municipal Library – Pledged $25,000.00 over a three (3) year period for the “NEW” CUDAHY FAMILY LIBRARY which opened in April 2003 – Donated $11,000.00 toward the renovation of the Cudahy Railroad Depot to the Historical Society – Funded the the Jaws of Life and a rubber rescue boat for the Fire Department. The Club sponsors eye testing and glasses for the needy. They have supported the Cudahy/St. Francis Little League, Cudahy Interfaith, Cudahy’s Project Concern and charted a Boy Scout Troop. For many years they sponsored the Junior Miss Competition. The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at City Hall has the Lions serving Hot Chocolate and Cookies to all that attend. In 1985 the Club got involved with the State Special Olympics' Bowling Tournament. Members would rise early in the morning to decorate the three (3) halls at the Sheridan 3 points hotel and than spent the afternoon working the bowling lanes as helpers and scorekeepers during the bowling competition.

In 1997, along with other groups in the city, they painted the Cudahy Train Depot. The Club sponsor children as well as adults at the Wisconsin Lions Camp in Rosholt, Wisconsin each year. They have contributed $5000.00 to the Wisconsin Eye Institute of Madison, Wisconsin and donate annually to the Wisconsin Eye Bank either monetarily or through members of the club picking up and delivering EYE’s to Doyne Hospital. They also donated $7500.00 to the Lions International “Sight First Program” and $18,000.00 over the years towards L.C.I.F. (Lions Club International Foundation) for Melvin Jones Fellowships of which the Club now has eighteen members. The Club has donated toward many projects in the Lions Club International, the State with strong support of Wisconsin Lions Foundation, District and Zone.

Of course these projects have to be funded and the Community has supported our Club very well. One of our earlier fund-raisers was a Social and a raffle, which was held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving for many years. Another special event was a basketball game with members of the local Kiwanis and Lions Club playing a benefit game against the Green Bay Packers. Fun was had by everyone. “BINGO” was the Club’s major fund-raiser from 1977 until 1994. In 1985 and for three years, the Club sold monthly raffle tickets with winners 30 –31 winners each month sharing $1500.00 winnings. In 1988 brought on the “Calendar Raffle” in which 365 winners each year shared a purse if $18,000.00. As a point of interest, The Cudahy Lions Club was the first organization in the state of Wisconsin to have a “Calendar Raffle. We did this for ten (10) years. In 1992 the Club setup a food stand in Sheridan Park for the 4th of July festivities. Have expanded to a tent, serving brats, hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, tacos-in-a-bag, soda wine coolers and beer.

In 1998, the Club revived what was once know in the city of Cudahy, as Sweet Apple-Wood Days and now call it the Cudahy Lions Club Sweet Apple-Wood Festival, Now in our sixth year we hope we renewed a “Pride” in the community along with providing everyone with good food, fun, music and a chance to meet old friends from years gone by. The Club built a Clubhouse to store the festival supplies on the grounds of South Woods Restaurant in 2001. This festival event will probably be the Club’s major fund-raiser for years to come on the weekend following the So. Milwaukee’s Lions-Fest.

In 2002, the club pledged $25,000 over a three (3) year period to the New Family Cudahy Library. For this, there is a plaque in the vestibule in honor of the Cudahy Lions Club Donation.

The Cudahy Lions Club took the 2003 Wisconsin State Lions Bowling Tournament
In Sparta, Wisconsin. The five (5) member team rolled a 3,634 which is a State team record
going back 52 years. They beat their own record. After the math, that totals to 242 points per game per man. Larry Burss…Dick Sonsalla…Bruce Pelzek…Jim Hennlich…Norb Olson were members of that team event.


Over the years several of our members have served in Zone & District post. In 1992 our Lion Gene Zawikowski was elected District Governor. He served as State Council Chairman and for five (5) years has served on the State Sight Committee and the Rules and Procedures Committee.

In 1995, Lion Richard Shimeta was Zone Chairman for the Cudahy Lions Club, South Milwaukee Lions Club, Oak Creek Lions Club, Milwaukee South Shore Noon Lions Club, St. Francis Lions Club and the Bay View Lions Club.

In 2002, Lion Richard Sonsalla was Zone Chairman of the same Zone.

The Cudahy Lions Club meet on the 2nd & 4th Wednesday of every month (September thru June) at Southwoods of Cudahy Restaurant. Our Board of Directors meets on the 1st Wednesday of each month at the K-Ranch. All meetings start at 6:30 PM SHARP. The Cudahy Lions Sweet Apple-Wood Festival Committee meets on the 3rd Wednesday starting January thru July also at the K-Ranch. We have been meeting jointly each year with the South Milwaukee Lions (Our sponsoring Club), the Oak Creek Lions, Bay View Lions, St. Francis Lions and the Milwaukee South Shore Lions. Persons interested for more information pertaining membership in the Cudahy Lions Club can contact our Membership chairman, Barry Burss at 546-6685 or Lion President, Clyde Schraufnagel at 421-001