“Together We Serve” is the motto of the Sussex Lions Club and its members.
Our purpose is to create and foster a spirit of understanding among all people for humanitarian needs by providing voluntary services through community involvement and international cooperation.
In 1939, there was a need for a fraternal and civic‑minded club in the Sussex area with a bent toward including the business community. Earlier, this had been first fulfilled by the Ashlar Lodge, then the Sussex‑Templeton Advancement Association and the Sussex Fire Department, but these had found their special niche. While the Ashlar Lodge and the Sussex Fire Department still existed, the Advancement Association had fallen by the wayside. Into this vacuum came some enterprising individuals, probably most notably the dynamic young principal of the 10-grade Sussex State Graded School, Winston Brown.
In 1939, the area was ripe for a community-oriented organization and Dave Kerr, a Hartland banker and Hartland Lions Club member, persuaded Winston Brown (who had Hartland roots) that since the area didn't have any community service group, a Lions Club could fill the void. After some discussion, Kerr and Brown met with John P. Kraemer at the Mammoth Spring Canning Co. office, and the Lions Club was born.
Kraemer and Brown, two gifted men, contacted community business and professional leaders. In a short time, 20 charter members were signed up.
The charter meeting was held April 18, 1939 with an inaugural dinner at the two-year-old Sussex Community Hall. Dr. E.C. Van Valin, a local general practitioner, was elected the first president.
Of the first 20 charter members, 10 later became presidents. The charter members who later became president were Van Valin, George Podolske, Rev. E.T DeSelms, Milton Mantz, Claude Kaderabek, Kraemer, Harry Rodgers, Albin Halquist, Henry Yuds and Roy Stier. The other charter members were Brown, Charles A. Busse, B.M. Fobes, William Hardiman, Otis Kramer, Rev. W.D. Millen, Alfred Otto, Rev. Charles Parmiter, and Lloyd Weaver.
After the initial meeting at the Sussex Community Hall, other locations in the community were used for periods of time such as, the Brook Hotel, Bernie Krueger's Tap, the Paul Relot Tavern, (Old Templeton Inn), the VFW, Our Villa, Marchese's Danceland, Sussex Bowl, Ironwood Golf Course, and presently Boneyard Pub & Grille.
In keeping with the aim of the Lions Club International, no president has ever served more than one year.