Lion is dedicated to service

May 13, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK - It took a shattered hip to slow Roy A. Mills down, but that worked only for a little while. Soon, the indomitable 65-year-old was back to mowing eight acres on his Pennsylvania farm.

Still walking with a cane, Mills on Monday night attended the Hancock Lions Club meeting, which marked the beginning of his 39th year in that organization.

For more than 25 of those years, Mills served as club editor. He recently relinquished the post because of his injury.


"I got into Lions Club because I love to do things for others," Mills said. "If something needs to be done, Lions Club members will find the money for it."

On a recent brisk spring morning, Mills spoke about his life, his careers and his years of service to the Lions Club in Hancock. He was sitting in one of three pavilions in Widmeyer Park built by the Hancock Lions Club.

The restrooms at the park were also built by the Lions, and renovated in 1995. A covered stage is in the planning stages at the park.

For 27 years, the club has sponsored Canal Apple Days. This year the event is scheduled for Sept. 18-19.

Recently, the club pledged to build a full-sized canal boat in the near future.

"During the past 25 years, our club has raised more than $150,000 and donated it all back to the community," Mills said. "This club takes the Lions' motto 'We Serve' very seriously."

Other activities include operating a food bank at the Hancock Community Center, providing a free Christmas dinner for the past 10 years, sponsoring two Little League teams, giving out five to six scholarships each year, and providing eye examinations and glasses for the needy and health equipment at no cost.

Growing up in a Fulton County, Pa., farm family, Mills said he learned his values early and was reminded of them often.

"I have been doing a man's work since I was 10 years old, but learning was also a big part of my life from an early age," he said.

The first in his family to graduate from high school - and he did that as the salutatorian - Mills worked his way through Shippensburg State Teacher's College, graduating in 1961. He taught history and English for two years in York, Pa., before returning to Fulton County where he taught for another 29 years while coaching basketball and baseball on the side.

"For 20 of those years, I also farmed full time, raising Hereford breeding bulls," Mills said. "I have been successful because I had great role models in my family and my teachers."

Married for 37 years, Mills and his wife, Pauline, have two children together.

"My wife's four children from a previous marriage call me Dad, too," Mills said. "I'm proud to say all of my children still speak to me."

Though always a Pennsylvania resident, Mills joined the Hancock Lions Club because he knew Larry Gerber, his sponsor. He has served as president three times.

"When my kids were growing up, they knew Dad had Lions Club on the second and fourth Mondays along with other functions. We scheduled family activities around that," Mills said.

Mills joined in 1966 when there were only 20 members. Now there are about 50 members, but it is getting harder to recruit younger members, he said.

"I've spent more than half of my life in Lions Club, but I can't think of anything more worthwhile," Mills said. "You just don't let people down. ... That's why I am a Lion."

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