By Sheila Phibbs
The Haldimand Press
FISHERVILLE—The Fisherville Lions recently honoured three members with the Helen Keller Fellowship, an award that recognizes members for their outstanding work, commitment, and dedication to their community. This year’s recipients include Bill Clarke, John Robinson, and Jim Rohrbach.
Lion Bill Clarke is one of the longest serving Fisherville Lions. He came to the community as a veterinarian in 1961, joining the club soon after. He was club president in 1970-71 and served on the committees that oversaw the installation of lights at the ball park and the building of the Fisherville Medical Centre and Community Centre.
For 56 years Clarke has also shared his musical talent as a part of the annual Variety Show. He was the musical director for many years and audiences have enjoyed hearing him play the violin as well. A favourite highlight for Clarke was in 1967 when the Lions renewed the old Fisherville Garden Party, an event for which the community had been well known.
Clarke is a Life Member with Lions Clubs International and a Melvin Jones Fellowship recipient. He and his wife, Laurine, recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary and he says, “She has been a big part of it.” On receiving this award he adds, “It’s a great honour; makes you feel good about the work you’ve done.”
Clarke can also be credited with sponsoring Lion John Robinson, who became a Fisherville Lion in 1978. Robinson has held many club positions and helped raise thousands of the dollars from the Journey for Sight. This fundraising effort for the Lions Foundation of Canada has enabled the club to sponsor more than 20 dog guides. Robinson further contributed to the success of the club’s fundraising in 2004-05, its 50th anniversary year, when over $22,000 was raised in support of those with vision problems.
A favourite memory of Robinson’s is from his year as president in 1988-89 when the club brought in the RCMP Musical Ride for the community to enjoy. As a Lion, he believes that community engagement is important and he has especially appreciated events such as Fisherville Fun Day, the Variety Show, and the Halloween Party. The building of the Community Centre is another highlight for Robinson, both as a Lion member and on a personal level as well. He recalls it was a major addition to the community and says, “I met my wife there at the first event!”
Robinson recognizes the importance of the community and its support of the club. He says, “We couldn’t do anything without them.” He is proud of what the Fisherville Lions have accomplished for the community, including the more recent additions of the outdoor recreational pavilion and the walking path. Robinson’s many years of service have also earned him the Melvin Jones Fellowship and the Judge Brian Stevenson Fellowship.
For Lion Jim Rohrbach, the Fisherville Lions Club is a family affair as his father is one of the longest serving members (along with Clarke) and his mother is a great supporter of club activities. Essentially, Lions has always been a part of his life and he officially became a Lion in 2001. He has accepted many duties within the club, including president, secretary, and bulletin editor, and he has been the District 2 Governor.
Rohrbach has served on many of the committees and played a critical role during the pandemic as he set up online meetings. Rohrbach presented the Helen Keller Fellowship awards to Lions Bill and John in September. He says, “It was truly an honour to present these two awards to these very deserving Lions and receive the same award. I thank the Lions Club for this honour and am proud of the great work we have done and continue to do.”
The great work of the Lions Club International was inspired by Helen Keller in 1925 when she attended its convention and challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” As recipients of the award named in her honour, Lions Bill Clarke, John Robinson, and Jim Rohrbach have not only lived up to that challenge but epitomize the Lions motto: We Serve.