Evening Lions Honor Surry Shaffer’s
Service With Second Melvin Jones Award
Villager Surry G. Shaffer, Jr. received his first Melvin Jones Fellow Award in 1977 when 72 Texas Lions Clubs collectively honored his service as district governor. Last month, HSV Evening Lions’ directors voted a second one to Shaffer, honoring his 16 years distinguished service in HSV and Arkansas.
The Melvin Jones Fellow Award, named for Lions’ International founder, is the highest honor a Lions Club may bestow on an individual.
In announcing Shaffer’s honor, Evening Lions president Ed Pearson said, “Shaffer has been an invaluable leader and mentor to club members.”
Living life in service to America’s youth, its visually-handicapped citizens and disaster relief projects in 42 years as a Lions Club member continues to be a central part of Shaffer’s life story.
Coming to the Village
Heeding his doctor’s advice to slow down the pace of his daily activity, Shaffer and his wife, Dori, moved to HSV in March 1994 from Dallas, Tex., where he had owned and operated a successful independent insurance brokerage doing business in several states.
He immediately transferred his Lions membership here and soon became actively involved in the Evening Lions.
Although not a member Evening Lions, Dori is an active volunteer on the Lions Braille Bible Workshop team that weekly produces and assembles Braille Bibles for worldwide distribution.
Shaffer soon became secretary of the HSV Evening Lions, and later headed program and membership committees. For eight years, he actively promoted activities that would strengthen the Evening Lions membership and programming dedicated to humanitarian services.
In 1998, when Shaffer completed his term as club secretary, membership had climbed to 230 members, it highest level ever.
In 2001, Shaffer was elected a permanent lifetime honorary director of the Evening Lions board of directors, and now has served 15 years on its board.
Since coming to HSV, Shaffer has added to his lifetime perfect attendance record that now has reached 42 years.
Shaffer’s leadership roles included: membership director, retention committee chairman, club secretary, board director, program chairman, international service chairman and insurance and safety policy chairman.
Over the years, Shaffer’s programming leadership attracted major speakers to Evening Lions events, including four Lions International presidents, four Lions international directors, one Arkansas governor, and one US Army commanding general from Iraq as speakers. He also succeeded in establishing short-term partnerships with Lions clubs in 13 nations to share programming and fundraising ideas.
Infirmities from life’s aging process combined with WWII combat injuries have slowed Shaffer’s daily activity. Nevertheless, he plans to remain active and dedicated to Lions International’s goals.
Service to Lions Clubs International
In service as a consultant to Lions Clubs International (LCI), headquartered in Chicago for 25 years, Shaffer led 10 U.S./Canada forums and served as moderator or presenter at 20 Lions International Conventions to help Lions clubs worldwide establish International Youth Exchanges and Camps. The results: youth from some 30 countries coming together to exchange life experiences, values, and their hopes for the future.
Among his many international projects was one to collect and ship free 500,000 pairs of eyeglasses for South Africa Operation “Bright Sight.” This project provided aid to citizens in Uganda at a time when communists were attempting to overtake that country with the help of Fidel Castro.
Shaffer’s greatest satisfaction comes from establishing a Lions club in Egypt after President Nasser’s regime removed all service clubs.
When President Sadat came to power, Shaffer used contacts at Southern Methodist University in Dallas to arrange U.S. citizenship for an Egyptian physician who wanted to come to the America. That physician assisted Shaffer in establishing a Lions club in Egypt. “Today, Egypt is perhaps America’s most reliable ally in the Middle-east,” Shaffer said.
From 1977 to 1990, Shaffer was executive secretary worldwide for all Past District Governors, an organization of 650 elected officers seeking to strengthen Lionism worldwide. “We had annual reunions and promoted ideas and programs with our own monthly newsletter.”
For LCI, the Shaffers traveled to 63 countries promoting Adult and Youth Exchange Networks and Camps, as well as Lionism, Patriotism and Americanism and hosting many similar events in Texas.
For all those efforts, Shaffer was awarded LCI’s highest individual award in 1994: The International Ambassador of Goodwill. That year, the award went to only 29 individuals out of 1.5 million Lions worldwide.
Asked what motivated him to serve Lions at the club, state and international level for 42 -years with high-energy assignments, Shaffer said he received all the inspiration he ever needed during WWII’s Battle of the Bulge in Germany in 1944-45. “I was an 18-year-old soldier whose life was saved by a fellow soldier who made time to be his ‘brother’s keeper’ on the battlefield. We met again in 1990,” Shaffer said.
“I knew then I had to dedicate my life to a high purpose. Lions provided it, especially with its focus on International Youth Exchange. They are tomorrow leaders. What betters investment can you make with your time.”
His reward, Shaffer says, the scores of people our Lions have been able to help with services and fundraisers, and the countless friends Dori and I made wherever we were called to serve Lionism.”