Activities September-November 2014


Mon. Sept.1—Labor Day Parade  

Wed. Sept.10—Regular Meeting

Wed. Sept. 17---Board of Directors

Sat. Sept. 20—Newtown Health Day

Wed. Sept 24­­—Regular Meeting

Sat. Sept. 27—Orchard Hill Clean Up

Wed. Oct. 8—Regular Meeting

Sat. Oct. 18--Pumpkin Race/  Raffle

Wed. Oct. 15—Board of Directors

Wed. Oct. 22---Membership Night

Sat. Oct 25—Hudson River Cruise

Wed. Nov. 12—Regular Meeting

Fri. Nov. 14---Brookfield Breakfast

Wed. Nov. 19—Board of Directors



President’s Letter September 2014


Dear Fellow Lions,


I hope you all had a great Summer. We are getting ready for another successful year of fund raising for our charities. We had some great successes since the last time I addressed you all in the newsletter. Lion Bob Schmidt led us as Chairman of the Duck Race in another successful day over the Memorial Day weekend. We had a great year with 3,862 tickets sold and a net income from the race of $14,573.61. All in all a very good year for the Ducks!  This year was especially challenging for Bob and the team as we were partnered with S.H.O.P. to spread the race festivities throughout the Hook. I think all would echo that it was a glowing success.


Lions Denny McLaughlin,Jerry Cole and Gordon Williams organized and executed a great effort for Homefront. The Lions coupled with the Congregational Church, rehabilitated a home that was near destruction. It was truly an amazing transformation. Congratulations to all that were involved. This kind of community service is what makes the Lions a truly great organization for our community.


The Mustang Car Raffle was also launched under the Chairmanship of Lion Paul Krueger  last spring and we are well on our way to another great year. Through August our event sales was 4,650 tickets sold. Our Web and postal tickets sales continue to be excellent at over 1200 tickets sold to date. During the Labor Day parade we sold 183 tickets alone. The grand total as of the end of August was 6,833. This includes all the Liona’ tickets that each of you received at the beginning of the season. We are counting on all of you to get your tickets sold. As you can see we are well on our way to tie our 2013 record of 10,000 tickets but we need to keep up the hard work to get us across the finish line on October 18th. Thanks so much to all who have participated, and will be, going forward. This is our major fundraiser and we need the support of all our Lions to make it as successful as last year. Let’s keep it going!


On June 30th this past summer the Chairman Tom Evagash of the Newtown Lions SHEF Golf committee was assisted by many other Lions and those of the Western Connecticut State University Sigma Chi Alumni Association to run the second annual FORE Sandy Hook Golf Classic. This was the first year the Lions actively participated with Sigma Chi to run the Golf Tournament. The Lions were also assisted by a very special Newtown Resident, John Schneider, who helped organize a sports memorabilia auction that contributed to the gross sales of approximately $35,000. The effort yielded about $22,000 in net profits which was an increase from last year of about $5,000. Not bad for the second year in a Golf Tournamen!  I would like to congratulate Chairman Tom Evagash and the entire FORE Sandy  Hook Golf team on a fantastic job. All the proceeds of these funds go to the Sandy Hook Elementary Fund (SHEF) which continues to support mental health care counseling for the community of directly affected individuals through the Collaborative Recovery Fund (CRF).  For those who don’t know Lion Bob Schmidt’s SHEF committee is an active part of the CRF which is teamed with the Newtown Rotary, the Newtown Memorial Fund, and the Newtown Sandy Hook Community Foundation to continue to provide financial aid to those directly involved in the Sandy Hook tragedy. The need continues to be real as the financial demand reached a high this year of over $90,000 in the May/June time frame. 


 Our Grant Committee for SHEF also had a major success with the LCIF. Lion Jon Christensen wrote and supported a grant application for $25,000 for SHEF. This was a very difficult job but Jon navigated his way through expertly and was able to attain a very successful result. We received a check from MD23 Lion Council Dan DiVirgilio. I must say that the Lions really pulled together on this to support our SHEF initiative and I am extremely grateful to them for this support. I should also mention that I received a call from Lion Linda Maggs who attended the Lions convention in Toronto this summer. President Barry Palmer in his address to the convention gave honorable mention to the Newtown Lions Club for our work with the Sandy Hook Elementary Fund. This is quite an honor that we should all be very proud of.


Thanks to everyone for all the hard work last year. We have a number of challenges to meet going forward this year. I look forward to working with all of you going forward this year. See you soon.          


Best regards!




  Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, Nobody


Once upon a time there were four Lions named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There were important jobs that needed to be done, Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  When Nobody did it, Everybody got angry because it was Somebody’s job.  Everybody thought that Somebody would do it, but Nobody realized that Nobody would do it.  So, it ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done it in the first place.  . . . It’s a new year for the Newtown Lions Club so please be Anybody and come help!


                                    Pay It Forward!

Doings of the Pride

  Bill Brett is putting the finishing touches on a novel he has written, still untitled.  It is a love story between an English man and a Rumanian lady set during the time of the development of WWII and during the war itself. You will find a description on the novel by its author following this column.  Be sure to ask him to reserve a copy!. . . .Bruce Landgrebe and his son, Jeffrey, enjoyed what has been called a Father’s Day Get Away from June 9-1 4.  Traditionally the pair camp at Lake Conway, in Conway, New Hampshire in the White Mountains.  Boating, fishing, cooking steak chicken, onions and potatoes are the order of the day.  Lots of good memories recalled over the camp fire. . . . Dick Kovacs is rapidly becoming one of Newtown’s best volunteers.  Soon he will be leaving his position as President of the Nunnawauk Meadows governing board which he has ably chaired for several years.  Continuing will be his FISH driving and his participation in the Methodist Church.  Recently he used his braun to try to fill in a large sink hole in the driveway of the Church. Possibly there was a machine involved, as well. . . . Another Methodist has not been minding his financial duties at the Church but has been galavanting for eighteen or nineteen days in Europe.  Fred Stakel and Debbie took a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate their mutual big birthdays (but he wouldn’t tell me which ones!)  They saw Florence, Pisa, Barcelona, Naples and beautiful Capri and Sorrento.  They also squeezed in five extra days in Paris.  It was a trip to remember!  . . . George and Irene Arfaras have returned from a two week cruise in Alaska which they greatly enjoyed.  The same could be said for Ed and Donna Miklezewski who sojourned among the fjords of Norway as well as visiting Stockholm and other Scandinavian sights. . . . And our President and Lady Jane have acquired something new in their lives—no it isn’t another dog.  It’s a son in law.  The happy event took place  on June 22 at St. Rose Church.  There their daughter, Katie Rose, was united in matrimony to Matthew John Oliver.  Afterword the wedding party sojourned at the Inn at Longshore for a festive wedding party. As you read this Lions Chuck Paulson and wife are off to the wilds of Montana (truly a great place) and Lions Gary Tannenbaum and wife are taking some time exploring the Delta of the Mississippi as well as other sights. . . . On a less cheerful note is Lion Frank Delucia’s heart surgery which comes up soon.  We’ll keep him in our prayers.    

Words to Live By

Accept that some days you’re the pigeon and . . .some days you’re the statue.

When everything’s coming your way . . . you’re in the wrong lane.

We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors. . . . But they all have to live in the same box.

Next Year in Constanta                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

By Lion Bill Brett

        This is the story of a love affair that endured not only the test of time but the tumultuous events of the World War that turned the lives of those involved upside down.  David is the young handsome English ship’s Captain who falls in love with Celestina, the beautiful secretary to the British Consulate General in Constanta, Romania during the years leading to the rise to power of Nazi Germany.  Their romance, set against the backdrop of the exotic city of Constanta, is clouded by the looming threat of war.  David is drawn into a series of secret missions on behalf of the British Government which explicitly draws Celestina into finding  information on a series of dark secrets hidden by the Soviet Union.  Only a chance letter sent to David’s son, Robert, after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s would reveal the truth about the enduring love affair and reveal the long hidden secrets of Soviet atrocities that now must be revealed to the world. 

                                                Pay it Forward!

Lions Veterans         

            We are enriched by a number of men in our club who served in our armed forces of the United States.  We are proud of these guys and want to share part of their stories with you.                                       

George Arfaras    

Crossing the Pacific in the Arine Adler, a one stack navy troop ship, we landed and docked in  Pusan, Korea.  At the same time another ship loaded with Korean Vets on their way home started razzing  us.  We razzed them back when suddenly  someone threw an orange at us.  We replied in kind. Suddenly, hundreds of oranges were flying from one ship to the other and vica versa.  Although I was caught up in   the melee I couldn’t understand where all the oranges were coming from.  The Korean dock workers     along with other GIS on the dock were cheering and clapping.

            Eventually after spending a couple of days in Pusan and having a bad case of the shits we were loaded onto a very rickety train with wooden benches for a two day trip to Seoul.  Going to the bathroom was fun.  You entered the bathroom compartment and the outside wall was missing.  So you propped yourself as best you could and did what was needed and hoped that you didn’t dirty yourself or get pelted  by the many kids along the track harassing you.  If you happened to slip off the train it was easy enough to run along side and jump on since the speed was a crawl.  No glass windows just openings which was fun when going through tunnels.  I think the engines were operating on charcoal.    

                                                Dick Kovacs     

            I am  a U.S. Air Force veteran serving from January 1955 through January 1968, thirteen years.  I worked as a hydraulic technician, primarily on RB—47;s and KC-97;s; B-51’s and KC-135’s (bombers   and in-flight refueling), also F-105 Thunderchiefs (fighter-bombers) and the F-4 Phantom (fighter).  I had tours in New York, Texas, Kansas, Florida, Canada, Alberta, New Foundland and Labrador.  I had    missions in England, Spain, Thailand, Viet Nam, Korea and Okinawa.  It was a great learning experience,   a great job and paid travel for my family and me!  

                                                Steve Bennett

I served in the U.S Air Force from 1966 to 1970 during the Vietnam conflict, stationed near Boston, and worked with MIT and others to develop and procure electronic warfare systems for us in Vietnam.    The most notable was part of what the press dubbed “McNamara’s Wall”.  Small electronic sensors would  be dropped by air along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and other access rotes to report the passage of troops and supplies as they crossed over from North Vietnam.

            I did have a humorous incident just after being promoted to Captain.  After work one day, Jan and AI went shopping at Jordon Marsh in the Framingham Mall.  While in the store, several sales people came over to ask about my Air Force experience, how long I had been in the service, where I had been stationed and how I felt about my progressing through the ranks.  I did not think making Captain was that special!

            When we got home, I was mortified to discover that I had grabbed my boss’s overcoat by mistake when I left the office, so there  I was in the Mall, a 23  year old airman wearing the rank of a full bird Colonel!

                                                            Paul Arneth

I was a Naval Aviator from 1961-1967.  I was involved in advanced flight training in Beeville, Texas.  It was a hot plane for guys with little experience (afterburner and thin, swept wing). The assign-ment was to practice a dog fight against the instructor in another plane.  A flight student in my class        who stalled out at altitude, AC went into a spin, was unable to recover from the spin, so he ejected       safely.  The aircraft crashed into a funeral home in downtown Beeville.  Luckily the home was      unoccupied except by two stiffs. Seems they received an early free cremation.

            Once in the fleet, our mission was to practice low level flight to stay under radar detection.  In the 60’s we could fly at 200 feet above ground level over non-populated areas.  A safety observer in a chase plane flew back and above. It was very interesting to see cows and steers race across a field when  you    pass by at 200 feet AQL  It was quite easy to get lost at that low altitude.  Crossing a road at 200 feet and 340 knots, all you know is you crossed over a road but cannot determine where turn or crossroads might   be.  Luckily, for dopes such as me, most southern towns had a water tower with the town name on the side.  I would fly by and read the name. 

            Flying on and off a boat was a great experience. On a calm sunny day landing on a boat was the most fun you could ever have with all your clothes on.  Landing at night was sheer terror.  Flight surgeons came out to Tonkin Gulf to measure stress levels of pilots in combat over North Vietnam.  They found that blood pressure and pulse rates were much higher during night carrier landings.

                                                            Frank Gardner         

 I served in the Army from Dec 1958 through March of 1962.  Excluding my basic training at Fort Dix NJ I spent the rest of my service time at Fort Bliss ,Texas. Approximately the first year was spent  attending  basic electronics courses followed by a very extensive course on the Hawk Missile System which was a surface to air missile system manufactured by Raytheon and deployed by the Army.


             Upon the completion of the course I was given instructions to return to the school and become an instructor on the Hawk Missile System for my remaining two years in the service. The only problem was that I had a very serious stuttering problem which started back in elementary school and public speaking was a pure nightmare for me. I decided that if I purposely failed the Instructor Training Course which I did I would then be assigned to the field and live happily ever after.


 After failing the course I was called into the Captains office and told that I had a choice of either painting rocks out in the Texas desert or returning to the school and completing the course. I may be dumb but I am not stupid so back to school I went. I completed the course and was assigned to the school to teach initially on the Hawk Missile acquisition radar. The first month was pure hell as not only did I have classes which included high ranking officers with more radar experience than myself  but my stuttering compounded the problem. Needless to say the first week contained many sleepless nights and agonizing days. After the first month I started to feel more comfortable teaching and actually started to like it but what was more important was that my stuttering problem started to go away. Within two months my stuttering problem all but cleared up and I finished my remaining two years teaching in the school.


  I went back to the Captain and thanked him for making the decision to return me to school as it not only helped for my career in Electrical Engineering but most importantly cleared up my stuttering problem. The service opened up many career opportunities for me in later life but it also makes me feel proud that I served my country in some capacity even though it’s not on the scale of some of those soldiers that on are active duty today.

                                                George Smiley

             I was in the US Army for a 21 year career. All years were spent as a helicopter pilot. . CH 47 Chinooks, UH-1 Huey's mainly. Six years active duty as a commissioned officer took me to Korea, Japan and Western Europe. I spent the remaining 15 years in the Army Reserve and Army National Guard in various flying assignments. I never shot anyone but I did take a 30-30 round into the side of my Chinook over lower Alabama from a farmer who felt my flight training maneuvers were preventing his chickens from laying their eggs. I joined the Army as a Second Lieutenant right out of ROTC in college.  It seemed like a good deal at the time because they asked each of us where we would like to be stationed.  I said Germany, Japan or Hawaii.  I got Virginia, New Jersey, and Viet Nam.  At least they asked.  Proud to have served and would do it all over again!


                                                Walter Schweikert 

            I can't complain.  My New Jersey assignment was to run the Officers' Club at Ft. Monmouth.  I thought it was a great opportunity since the club had a golf course and the pro reported to me.  He took me out for lessons a couple of times and then told me I should take up bowling instead.


In Viet Nam, I was stationed in Qui Nhon, a former resort city on the South China Sea, and was part of a team responsible for supplying gear to the units moving inland.  It was a good assignment except for the heat.  On the other hand, I was not sorry to leave when my tour was up.  On the last day, as I was waiting for my plane to land, I was reading a war novel when I heard sound effects.  The airfield was under a mortar attack.  Thankfully, it was short, my plane was able to land and I took off for the US.


Focus on Our Wives

Perky Jan Bennett’s, Steve’s better half, always has a good smile.  People who visit the Cornerstone, the Congregational Church’s thrift store, are always greeted with that smile and a warm welcome when they come into the shop.  Undoubtedly the fourth, fifth and sixth graders she taught for a number of years in Fairfield must have enjoyed that smile as well. 

   This graduate of the University of New Hampshire is also on the board of directors of the Cornerstone as well as being in the Bell Choir.  In the past she also has served as the Church’s Superintendent of Sunday School and sung in the choir.  She especially  had fun singing with the Sweet Adelines and enjoyed going to national conventions with them.  However, a throat issue has made it difficult for her to sing.

A native New Yorker, Jan has spent more of her life in Connecticut than in  her birth state.  After twelve years in Norwalk she and Steve moved to Newtown and have lived here for thirty-two years.   Jan spends a lot of time with her daughter Christina and she and Steve both enjoy taking Christina to  Starbucks where they enjoy the coffee or tea and the fellowship.  Jan also makes time to take an old friend who can’t drive any more to various appointments.  Just for fun Jan likes to walk but also play Candy Crush Saga, one of the Facebook games.  She finds Facebook a good way to keep track of friends and relatives.  So if you aren’t lucky enough to run into her, try challenging her to a computer game.  She’ll be there with a smile!

Guess Which One is the Lion

 An Irish Blonde

A beautiful blonde with a great body from Cork, Ireland, arrived at the casino.  She seemed a little intoxicated and bet twenty thousand dollars in a single roll of the dice.  She said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I feel much luckier when I’m completely nude.”  With that, she stripped from the neck down, rolled the dice and with an Irish brougue  yelled, “Come on, baby, Mama needs new clothes!

As the dice came to a stop, she jumped up and down and squealed, “Yes!  Yes!  I won!  She hugged each of the dealers, picked up her winnings and her clothes and quickly departed.  The dealers stared at each other dumbfounded.  Finally, one of them asked, “What did she roll?”  The other answered, ‘I don’t know.  I thought you were watching.”

MORAL OF THE STORY:  Not all Irish are drunks, not all blondes are dumb, but all men—are men!