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History: Local: Community Organizations

Sussex Lions Club & Lioness Club

Start of the
Sussex Lions Club

    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, and presently Marchese's Danceland.

1939-1979 Anniv pin

    In keeping with the aim of the Lions Club International, no president has ever served more than one year.

     Yesteryear in Sussex: Late 1960's the Sussex Lions Club honored its' past presidents, awarding plaques. Seated, left to right: Anthony Schumann, John P. Kraemer, Milton Mantz, Hilbert Keller, Roy Stier, and Ray Semrow. Back row; Al Schroeder, Jim Van Valin, representing his father "Doc" who was the first president of the club, Jerome Herzog, Eugene Ackatz, Jerome Mudlitz, Ronald Halquist, Chuck Woodchick, Robert Stier, Wilmer Marx, and Paul Fleishmann. Source: Sussex Sun, Tuesday, July 11, 1978.

Source: "The First 150 Years Lisbon-Sussex Waukesha County, Wisconsin" by Lisbon-Sussex Sesquicentennial Committee, 1836-1986,  Fred Keller - chairman.

Content edited - Mike Reilly

Sussex Lions celebrate 67 years,
hold 40th Lions Daze this weekend

by Fred H. Keller, Sussex Sun Staff Writer July 12, 2006
Founded in 1939, the Sussex Lions Club is celebrating its 67th birthday this year.

The club started Lions Daze officially in 1967, but it actually began a few years earlier when it was attached to the then fledgling Sussex Olde Engine Show. The club began to stage its own festival in July 1967—so the 2006 Lions Daze this weekend is the club's 40th.

The co-founders of the Sussex Lions Club were two dynamic men, Sussex Main Street High School principal Winston Brown and the man who is considered the father of the Village of Sussex in 1924 and the Sussex Fire Department in 1922, John P. Kraemer.

Brown began as a teacher at the first to tenth grade Sussex school in 1936, later moved up to the principal's spot and left in 1941.
Kraemer came to Templeton (now east Sussex) right out of the service after World War I, and headed up the family's $62,800 construction of the Mammoth Spring Canning Co., Sussex-Lisbon's principal business and employer.

After the Jan. 30, 1922, fire that destroyed the nine-year-old Main Street School, he led the move to form a fire department as the leader organizer and treasurer of the Sussex-Templeton Advancement Association. The new fire department was originally called Lisbon Fire Co. No. 1 and was so well received that two years later the same group incorporated Sussex as a village.

By 1939 the local area was ripe for a community and charity oriented organization. Dave Kerr, a Hartland banker and Hartland Lions Club member, persuaded Winston Brown (originally from Hartland) that since the Sussex-Lisbon area did not have any community service group, a Lions Club could fill the void.

After some discussion, Kerr and Brown met with Kraemer at the Mammoth Spring Canning Co. office (which was just torn down last month).

Similarly gifted with leadership, the two men recruited 20 charter members from the community, business and professional leaders they knew.

Ten of the original 20 would later become club presidents: Kraemer, Dr. E.C. Van Valin, har­ware store owner George Podolske, church leaders Rev. E.T. Selms and Sussex Methodist Church Pastor Milton Mantz, Henry Yuds from the canning company, meat-market owner Claude Kaderabek, quarry owner Albin Halquist, garage owner Roy Stier, banker Harry Rodgers.

The other 10 were Brown, who later became Waukesha County School superintendent, meat market owner Charles Busse, longtime Village President and County Supervisor Fred Fuchs, Lisbon Telephone Co. owner B.M. Fobes, Walter Hardiman of the Hardiman Oil Co., Malsch furniture store owner Otis Kramer, Sussex Mills owner Alfred Otto, the St. Albin's Episcopal Church pas­tor, the Rev. Charles Parmiter, and Lloyd Weaver of the Sussex-Lisbon founding family and owner of the Brook Hotel (later the old Sussex Place at what is now Clock Square Park in downtown Sussex).

The first meeting of the Sussex Lions Club was on April 18, 1939, in the federally financed WPA-built Sussex Community Hall. Afterwards, the group adjourned to the nearby Brook Hotel bar room.

Over the years the club has met at the Brook Hotel, Krueger's Tap (Killarney's), Paul Relat's Bar (Olde Templeton Inn), Our Villa (Sussex Inn), Sussex Bowl, the Beier Cheese Factory (where Hardee's front lawn is today) and at Marchese's Danceland. It also held meetings at the Sussex Village Park Lions Club pavilion on the top of the hill and at the Quilted Bear in Germantown (which was owned by two Sussex Lions at the time).

Since the closing and imminent destruction of Marchese's, the club has gone back to meet­ing at Sussex Bowl.

The Lions Clubs try to keep their presidents limited to one term of one year each, and that is the way the Sussex Lions Club has operated for all of its 67 years.

The Sussex Lions Club has a spawned several spin-offs, including the Lannon Lions, the Sussex Lioness Club and the youth-based Leos.

The Sussex Lions, which started with just 20 members, now boasts 90 members and is always looking for more.
©Sussex Sun 2007

Sussex Lions Club celebrates 70 years

The Sussex Lions Club held its first meeting April 18, 1939, at the old Brook Hotel - a tavern, restaurant and hotel that stood where the village clock stands today in the mini park at the four corners of Main Street, Silver Spring Road and Orchard Drive.

The original 20 members inaugurated the new group with a dinner meeting followed by a late-night party in the Sussex Community Hall gymnasium.

The club grew by about 10 members a decade, numbering in the 30s in the 1940s, then escalating to more than 100 members in the 1980s and early 1990s. The club has declined a bit in numbers recently, but still boasts a membership in the upper 80s, along with its companion Lioness Club, started in 1965, and its junior affiliate, the Hamilton High School Leo Club.

The Sussex Lions Club also sponsored the founding of a Lannon Lions Club, also in 1965.

Back in 1939, the Sussex-Lisbon community needed a new fraternal and civic-minded betterment club to promote the business community. Earlier in its history, the Sussex-Templeton Advancement Association and the Sussex Fire Department had somewhat filled this niche, but they had a narrower focus. Even earlier, the Sussex Ashlar Masonic Lodge had filled a broader role, but now a more modern civic, fraternal and business-oriented club was needed, its founders felt.

At this juncture, two men - Sussex Main Street School principal Winston Brown and Mammoth Spring Canning Co. leader John P. Kraemer - joined forces to found the new Lions Club.

Kraemer was also considered the father of the Sussex Fire Department in 1922, the village incorporation drive in 1924 and the Sussex park system in 1958.

Brown moved to Sussex in the late 1930s and made an instant impact as teacher then principal of the first- through 10th-grade Main Street School.

He also coached the Sussex High School basketball teams. It didn't hurt that Sussex had the best junior high school basketball gym in the tri-county (Waukesha, Dodge, Washington) area - the 1936 WPA-built Sussex Community Hall for $26,000 - back in the Depression. He parlayed this coaching into multileague and tournament championships for Sussex. Now he compounded this popularity by marrying the most-liked woman teacher in the school, Julianne Klatt. Initially, in 1935, he had been just a teacher at Sussex Main Street School, but by 1937 he was the principal of the 10 grades, and would hold that position until July 1941 when he made a big step up to superintendent of Waukesha County schools.

Meanwhile, Kraemer was a longtime Sussex Fire Department member and Sussex Village Board trustee, besides being the big honcho at the main employer in Sussex, the Mammoth Spring Canning Co. While village doctor Erwin Van Valin was the first president of the Sussex Lions, Kraemer would serve as sixth in 1944-45.

One of the boasts of the Sussex Lions Club was that in 70 years never has one person served more than one year as president.

The 20 original members were the Rev. E.T. DeSelms, the Rev. W.D. Millen, Albin Halquist, Charles Busse , B.M. Fobes, Walter Hardiman, Harry Rodgers, Claude Kaderabek, Otis Kramer, Milton Mantz, Alfred Otto, the Rev. Charles Parmiter, George Podolske, Harry Rogers, Roy Stier, Lloyd Weaver, Henry W. Yuds, Kraemer, Brown and Van Valin.

Immediately the Sussex Lions Club became a factor in Sussex and Lisbon, both as an aide to the blind and eye impaired, and various civic improvements that grew as the club matured.

The club didn't have big money-makers for the first 28 years but were a factor in the then much smaller community. Then after tasting the big time for a couple years, aligned with the Old Engine Show, the group struck off by itself as the first Lions Daze was held in the summer of 1967 at the instigation then Lion President Marvin E. Burg Sr. in the "bowl area" of Sussex Village Park.

It was a money-maker from the start, and it got bigger, becoming an annual homecoming for the community of Sussex-Lisbon, Hamilton and Lannon.

The Lions Club did so many small and big things for the communities it's almost impossible to name them all, but their efforts included the lights at the high school football field, scholarships for students, and many buildings in the Sussex Village Park, plus in later years donations to Lisbon parks and both Sussex and Lisbon Fire Departments.

Now the club's latest project is to fund a major press box at the Hamilton Grove Field, to the tune of $50,000.

The communities have also benefited as other organizations have booths in the park during Lions Daze, some often making their most lucrative profit for the year there.

This year Lions Daze is a little earlier than usual, July 10, 11 and 12. The annual parade down Main St will be at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 11. The Sussex-Lisbon Area Historical Society Museum will be open from 1 to 4 p.m. before the parade, and will have on display memorabilia of the Lions Club and previous Lions Daze. Get your chairs in place on the street edge, and then use the wait to visit the museum and see some of the history of the local Lions.

Presidents of the Sussex Lions Club

At the 45th banquet of the Sussex Lions Club, a photo of the former presidents of the club was taken for the Lions history book. The 45th celebration was held in 1984, and 2014 marks the club’s 75th anniversary. From right, the former presidents are (front row): Bill Bierman, Ron Halquist, Paul Fleischmann, Al Halquist, Kurt Kneiske, Art Manke, Don Edmonds, Jerry Robinson, Bill Marx and Kim Kais. (Back row): Nick Wolfe, Jim Nettesheim, Jim Zindle, Larry Erdman, Bob Stier, Al Schroeder, Ray Semrow, Carl Klug, and Harry Hincliffe. Five of those pictured will be attending this year’s 75th anniversary celebration. Fourteen have passed away.

by Fred H. Keller, Historian

Posted: March 11, 2014, Living Sussex Sun

The Sussex Lions Club is having a monumental 75th anniversary year of celebration in 2014, having been founded in April 1939. In the 75 years, no president has ever served more than one year, which is a testament to the long success of the club. Many other such fraternal charity and community betterment clubs have a history of presidents serving for more than one year.

The club started with 20 members, and today, it has approximately 105 members. However, there are also side clubs affiliated with them, be it the Sussex Lioness Club or the now very successful Hamilton High-Templeton Middle School Leos Club, which collectively have nearly 150 members.

Probably the most notable member was its co-founder John Kraemer, who besides being something of a "father" of the Sussex Lions Club (with Winston Brown) is also accorded the honor of the Father of the Sussex Fire Department, Father of the Village of Sussex Park system, which has a jewel, the Sussex Village Park, where the annual Sussex Lions Daze Festival is held.

Of the presidents, the first, Dr. Erwin Van Valin, was a longtime Sussex-Lisbon community doctor who made house calls.

Two presidents served as Lisbon Town Chairman: Marv Burg Sr. and Art Manke.

Two served in World War I: Kraemer and Claude Kaderbek.

Hib Manke, Wilmer Marx, Ron Halquist, Joe Mudlitz, Tony Schumann and possibly a couple of others served in World War II.

Four served as Sussex fire chiefs: Kaderbek, George Podolske, Roy and Bob Stier, Fleichmann, Roy Stier and Paul Fleischmann served as President of the Village of Sussex.

Two Lions have served for many years on the Hamilton School Board: James Long and Gabe Kolesari.

Local banking leaders were Eugene Acketz and Harry Rogers.

Serving on the Sussex Village Board as trustees were Hib Manke, Wilmer Marx, Joe Mudlitz, Herb Beier, Kurt Knieske, Roy and Bob Stier, Milton Manz, Kraemer, Glenn Moody, Podolske, Wilmer Marx, Fleischmann and Ray Semrow (and possibly others).

Milo Hardiman served for more than a quarter century as the elected clerk of Sussex.

Brothers Albin (Al) and Ron Halquist served as president with Al's grandson Tom also serving.

Two Nettesheims served as president, Mark and nephew Jim.

Of the first 40 presidents, only one is alive today: Jim Zindle.

Of the 20 deceased charter members, the last two active members were Al Halquist and Roy Stier.

Sussex Lions Club List of Presidents

1939     Dr. Erwin Van Valin
1940     George Podolske
1941     Rev. Emmot DeSelms
1942     Milton Mantz
1943     Claude Kaderbek
1944     John Kraemer
1945     Harry Rogers
1946     Albin C. Halquist
1947     Henry Yuds
1948     Roy Stier
1949     Kurt Knieske
1950     John Zimmerman
1951     William Allen
1952     Herbert Beier
1953     Anthony Schumann
1954     Jerome Herzog
1955     Milo Hardiman
1956     Charles Woodchick
1957     Raymond Semrow
1958     Joseph Weber
1959     Hilbert Keller
1960     Allan Schroeder
1961     Jerome Mudlitz
1962     Paul Fleischmann
1963     Robert Stier
1964     Eugene Ackatz
1965     Wilmer Marx
1966     Ronald Halquist
1967     Marvin Burg, Sr.
1968     Hilbert Manke
1969     Jack Feltz
1970     William Zahnow
1971     William Bierman
1972     Don Roskopf
1973     James Zindle
1974     Donald Peplinski
1975     Mark Nettesheim
1976     Gerald Robinson
1977     Lawrence Erdmann
1978     Arthur Manke
1979     Jim Nettesheim
1980     Don Edmonds
1981     Nick Wolfe
1982     Carl Klug
1983     James Kais
1984     Harry Hinchcliffe
1985     Glen Moody
1986     Gus Gansemer
1987     Gabe Kolesari
1988     William Fischer
1989     Eugene Marx
1990     David Roisler
1991     James Long
1992     David Schroeder
1993     E. James Skarda
1994     Tom Halquist
1995     Paul Schmidt
1996     Thomas Rapp
1997     Patrick Handlos
1998     Jim Wanke
1999     Paul Newman
2000     Kurt Simons
2001     Ted Spliger
2002     Bob Zahn
2003   Bob Van Aacken
2004     Bob Johanning
2005     Ralph Modjeska
2006     Kevin Cumming
2007     John Haunfelder
2008     Erik Olsen
2009     Glenn Repose
2010     Rick Vodicka
2011     Bill Evers
2012     Jeff Carlson
2013     Ronald Buschke
2014     Greg Mears

Sussex Lions Club celebrates 75 years

In April 1939, the Sussex Lions Club was born as a group of men had their first charter night banquet at the Brook Hotel, what is today a minipark with the large Sussex Clocktower as the key noticeable feature.

After the food and a few celebratory beverages they walked a block east to the 1937-built Sussex Village Community Building for a formal charter meeting.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of this influential organization.

There were 22 charter members at this first-ever charter meeting. They were three local ministers — Rev. Charles Parmiter of St. Alban's, Rev. E.T. DeSelms of Lisbon Methodist, and Rev. W.D. Miller of Sussex Zion — along with B.M. Fobes of Lisbon Telephone Co.; Wiston Brown, the Main Street School principal; Claude Kaderabek and Charles Busse who opera ted two competing Sussex butcher shops; John P. Kraemer, Hank Yuds and Milt Manz from Mammoth spring Canning Co.; Fred Fuchs, owner of the former Sussex Creamery; Harry Rogers, a Sussex F&M banker; Otis Kramer of Malsch Furniture Store; Walter Hardiman of Hardiman Oil Co.; Al Halquist of Halquist Quarry; Alfred Otto of the Nettesheim & Otto feed mill (Sussex Mills); George Podolske, of Podolske Hardware; E. C. VanValin, a local physician; Roy Stier, a blacksmith and garage owner; and Lloyd Weaver, bartender at the Brook Hotel.

Steady growth

Records show that the club had 48 members at its 25th anniversary; 69 at the 30th; 76 at the 35th in 1974; 83 at the 50th; and rose after that to 100. Today the club has about 110 members, and also has a Leo's Club of possible future members of more 150 students at Hamilton High and Templeton Middle schools. It is the largest Wisconsin Lions club.

The Sussex Lions Club is a service and fraternal club with charities supporting those challenged by vision and hearing problems, and diabetes, and supporting Camp Rosholt, a youth camp for handicapped individuals.

Fund-raising in the early years was tough after a spectacular misfire when the club got involved with the Lynndale Farms subdivision auto racing venture. This venture was doomed by rains, mosquitoes and the fact that the event never caught on.

However, in short order the Lions turned things around with the Olde Engine Show in the Village Park, and they used the experience to start Lions Daze under the leadership of then-president Marv Burg Sr. in 1967. The successful "homecoming carnival" is an example of the local betterment projects that have followed through the years.

Lights, and more

Personally I benefited from the Lions Club as I had two sons who played Hamilton football. With no lights on the field, my older son played games on Friday afternoons.

As sports editor in 1982, I ran a Sussex Sun sports page appeal labeled, "Let there be light at the football field," and shortly Sussex Lions member Wilmer Marx stopped at my home, telling me that the Lions Club would be paying for the installation of the lights at the Hamilton field (now the Coach Stan Grove Field).

It happened in 1982, and I could watch my second son play football under the lights, starting at 7 p.m. Today Friday night football is a big happening at the Charger field.

Recenty the Sussex Lions totaled up their locally aimed charitable giving, which is approaching $1.5 million.

A broad impact

This funding has benefited the Pauline Haass Library; playground equipment for the Sussex-Lisbon Parks, plus shelters and buildings; the football lights; cornea tissue transplants; lights at the softball diamond in the village park; Fire Department equipment; Boy and Girl Scout units; the Sussex teen center; Hamilton drug-free night; flag football; Junior Prom; senior citizen busing; the Hamilton Education Foundation; student scholarships; Hamilton Charger Robotics Team 537; eye-glass collections; blind outdoor leisure equipment; visually handicapped individuals; the Make-a-Wish Foundation; the Kidney Foundation; and SOS Sussex Food Pantry for the needy.

2014 is the 75th anniversary year of the Sussex Lions Club, and they plan big things for this anniversary year.

Sussex Lions celebrate their 75th anniversary

Talk to a member of the Sussex Lions Club and he will tell you his story — why he joined the club, what he does for it, what it does for him. But that same member would be quick to tell you that what makes the Lions successful isn't his particular contributions, but the power of the members working together.

"We come from many walks of life, but share a common purpose: We serve," said Sussex Lions Club President Ron Buschke.

Buschke's comments Saturday night capped a four-hour dinner and celebration marking the 75th anniversary of the club.

Born in 1939, it has climbed over the years to a membership of more than 100, the largest of the 47 clubs in its district.

The weekend party was attended by 158 people, including local dignitaries, Lions from neighboring clubs, Lion affiliates, spouses, and leaders at the district and national level, including Immediate Past International President Wayne Madden, who oversaw during his term the 1.3 million members of Lions Clubs worldwide.

Making contributions

Through fundraising events such as Lions Daze, golf outings, an annual car show, personal financial contributions and sweat, the Sussex club puts its total contributions at $1.3 million over the years toward countless programs, including flag football for youth; lights for Hamilton High School football and soccer fields; playground equipment, signs and buildings in community parks; Sussex Outreach Services; a robotics programs, among many other things.

More important, perhaps, are the ways in which the club has changed individual lives. Sight and vision improvement, for example, are one of the Lions' signature efforts.

Through the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin, Jerry Wille, treasurer of the eye bank and a past Lion district governor, said, "We gave the gift of sight to 500 people" last year. A few years ago, a Sussex woman was a recipient of cornea tissue transplants in both eyes.

The Lions role in the eye bank is not doing surgery, but providing transportation for the corneas — from the site where they are removed from donors, to the eye bank near the Madison airport, to the surgery centers where they are implanted.

"It's like a pony express," Wille said.

The strength of the Leos

To Wille, who belongs to the Oconomowoc Lions Club, one of the strengths of the Sussex club is its high school Leo Club community service program. Leo Clubs are not unique to Sussex, but here there are more Leos — 116 — than the 104 Lions.

Virtually all of the Sussex Lions are men, though women are allowed. Many women choose to become involved in the Lioness Club, which has about 40 members.

Highly organized

For Greg Mears, who will be the next president of the Sussex Lions Club, it is a measure of the size and strength of the club that in 75 years, no member has served more than one one-year term as president.

He describes the process of moving through the various posts below president as "like conveyor belt."

"You start as a tail-twister and you work your way up," through treasurer, secretary and three VP positions, he said.

While most of the Sussex Lions Club's contributions stay close to home, Lions Clubs in 208 countries and the Lions Club International Foundation broaden the reach of local clubs.

Madden, in his address to the club at the anniversary, gave a slide presentation depicting his heavy travel schedule in his year as international president. Italy, Colombia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia, Haiti, India, the Philippines and Switzerland are just some of the countries he visited, in addition to many U.S. locales, to see Lions Club funds at work.

He attended the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland; worked with Bill Gates; and met with members of Congress.

Some clubs struggle

Despite the strength of the Sussex club, other clubs in the district are struggling, and some in Milwaukee County have closed, said District Gov. Cary Kraemer. He made a plea for increased recruitment and the development of more leaders.

"We have guys that own businesses," Mears said, "guys that are retired, we have engineers, technicians, managers, bankers, we even have college students." Anyone can be a Lion.


Sussex Lions Club, April 18, 2014 via Facebook·  Lion Bob Zahn, a member since 1995, if best known in the club as the scheduler of Lions Daze. He takes the roster, which is over 100 names, and analyzes, organizes, and tabulates a workable schedule that keeps the festival patrons happy for the three busiest days of the year for our club; he does a great job. Lion Bob was club president from 2002 to 2003 and is a Melvin Jones Fellow.




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