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Lion continues to serve

November 14, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - At 90, longtime Hancock Lions Club member James L. Roby Sr. has graduated from the club's chicken barbecue line.

"I let the younger fellers do the barbecuing now. I just sell it," Roby said.

He might not be up to cooking hundreds of chicken halves for club fund-raisers each year, but Roby still makes it a point to attend every club meeting. He's missed only one meeting since 1966 - because he was hospitalized for pneumonia.

"I always thought it was no use belonging to an organization if you don't attend and do what you have to do," Roby said.

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Started in 1917, the Lions today boast more than 44,600 clubs with more than 1.3 million members in 190 countries, according to the Lions International Web site.

The Hancock Lions Club has about 50 members, Roby said.

Lions' community service projects include providing eye exams and glasses, distributing hospital equipment, providing clothes and food to the needy, sponsoring scholarships for area youth, funding vision research and helping with disaster relief.

Roby said the Hancock Lions Club truly lives up to the Lions' motto, "We Serve."

"We work hard and serve a lot of people," Roby said. "We give a lot of stuff away. We make money and give it away."

In addition to selling barbecued chicken, Roby serves Lions Club breakfasts once a month to raise money for charitable causes and works to recruit new members, he said.

The Lions Club International Foundation in 1992 honored Roby as a Melvin Jones Fellow for his "dedicated humanitarian services." Named in honor of Lions Club International founder Melvin Jones, the award is the club's highest form of recognition. The plaque holds a place of honor near family portraits in Roby's Hancock apartment.

He proudly points out that his son, James L. Roby Jr., was recently named a Melvin Jones Fellow for his work with the Chewsville Lions Club.

Born and raised in Little Orleans, Md., the senior Roby became acquainted with many Hancock-area residents after he and his late wife, Claire, opened Roby's Snack Bar and Mobil Station at the base of Sideling Hill in 1946, he said.

The couple ran the business until 1981.

While working full-time, Roby maintained active memberships as a Mason, Shriner and Lion, he said. He still drives to meetings for all three organizations, but doesn't have the opportunity to travel across the country as he did in his early years with the Lions Club, Roby said.

"I really liked traveling to international and national conventions because I got to meet all kinds of different people," he said. "I liked that a lot."

Roby's travels reached a high point when he served as cabinet secretary/treasurer for District Governor Larry Gerber in the early 1970s, he said.

"Him and I traveled practically all over the state and to New Jersey, Hawaii and California. I liked that," Roby said.

Gerber, who is still a member of the Hancock Lions Club, said Roby's knowledge and experience have made the club a stronger organization.

"He's brought a lot of good ideas to the group," Gerber said.

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