The History of Multiple District 19

(As Gleaned from the Archives of Multiple District 19)

When Lions first came to the Pacific Northwest, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California and Nevada were all one big District with no clubs in what we now know as Multiple District 19.

In March of 1920, the Seattle Club was organized (canceled in February 1921 and reorganized in August of 1921), while the Everett Club was organized in May of 1920, but the Everett Club was somehow chartered before Seattle-Central, their sponsoring club, so they - Everett-Central- lay claim to being the first club in this area. (A little complicated!). However, from this point we can keep things pretty well in sequence! Vancouver, B.C. was organized in February of 1921, followed by Tacoma in November 1921.

The information at this point is very spotty and vague, but sometime in 1921 Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho and British Colombia were separated from Nevada and California and granted Provisional District Status. On March 2, 1922, Spokane-Central and Wenatchee (March 22, 1922) were organized. Bellingham-Central was organized in October of 1922, Yakima in December of 1922, and Longview-Pioneer on November of 1923, giving us the required 8 or more clubs for full District status. Wenatchee only lasted 5 years and then canceled in June of 1927 and not reorganized until March of 1930 (even the good ones have difficulty!).

Not for two or three years did the affairs of the district take on enough importance to require a representative organization to coordinate and administer the business of the District. Somewhere in here we were separated from Oregon, and in 1923 District 19 held its first convention in Seattle, Washington, with 9 clubs and 465 members. The organization of the District was pretty simple but with the small number of clubs in existence at that time, a larger organization was unnecessary.

Recognizing the need for some sort of District organization, the leaders of the area, such as, Ray Biglow (3rd Vice President of Lions International 1922-24) of Seattle-Central; Harlan Peyton, Spokane-Central; Harry Cahaleh, Yakima; and Abe Lund, Seattle-Central set up the 'Board of Control". The board consisted of the District Governor, two Deputies (one east of the mountains and one west.), a District Secretary, and 3 board of Control Members. All but the Deputies were elected at the convention. The Deputies were appointed after consultation with the leaders on either side of the mountains. This was a good organization and it functioned well, and was adequate for the times.

International developed a new plan of organization in 1927, dividing Districts into Zones. The first information was not too definite and Zones were not well defined, neither were the functions of the zones. The first real effort to form a standard organizational plan involving Cabinets and various Districts in this District (only slightly resembling the present organization) came about under John Lampert of Yakima, then District Governor 1930-31.

The majority of the membership did not like the plan from International, which was then, as is now, an affiliation of small independent Districts lacking continuity. Each District elected a District Governor, who in turn appointed his Cabinet Secretary, Deputies, and Zone Chairman.

We had now progressed from 9 clubs in 1923 to 55 clubs in 1939, with one District Governor and 5 Deputy District Governors. In 1947-48, the District was completely reorganized and the Multiple District was set up composed of Washington, Northern Idaho, and British Colombia, with 138 clubs, a Cabinet Chairman, 5 District Governors, and 15 Zone Chairman.

On a ferry from Victoria to Vancouver, then District Governor Jack Peddycord, Bellingham-Central; Immediate Past District Governor Don Wike, Walla Walla-Downtown; and District Secretary Virgil Warren, Spokane-Central worked out the original organizational plan, which we basically follow today. Prior to this time, we had 5 Deputy District Governors. During the year, they could be seen in action and their abilities could be weighed. The outstanding Deputy was usually elected District Governor. Each summer or early fall, the Zone Chairman and Deputies met for a rather intensive indoctrination course. Each was given a folder outlining his responsibilities. The outstanding Zone Chairmen usually became Deputies. The Zone Chairmen were elected but the District Governor appointed the Deputies.

The goal of the authors of our Multiple District organizational plan, mentioned in the paragraph above, was to take the best parts of all plans and come up with the best Multiple District organizational plan in the International Organization. Each Deputy District Governor's office was converted to a District Governor. The District Governor's office was changed to that of Chairman of the Cabinet. The District Secretary's office was retained as Cabinet Secretary since we were only going to have one Cabinet. For economic reasons and because we didn't feel the need of additional officers, we eliminated the office of Deputy District governor. Zone Chairmen took on more importance in our organization and, unlike the International plan, they continued to be elected.

The first Chairman of the Cabinet was selected in the same manner as we always selected District Governor's. Henry Backstrom of Arlington, who had previously served as Deputy District Governor, which corresponded to that of District Governor under the new plan, was the first Cabinet Chairman under this new plan.

When the plan was adopted, after having been submitted to the clubs, as provided in the Constitution and By-laws, there were no qualifications required to run for Chairman of the Cabinet. Later, the By-laws were wisely changed to provide that only Past District Governors qualified to run for the office.

Today, many Lions feel we have the best District Organization in Lions International. Many officers from other Districts have written for our organizational plans. The advantages are many! We have preserved a single District operation, yet have individual sub-districts operating as one unit, with mutual interests and problems. We have one Executive Secretary, with the advantage of continuity in office, instead of a one appointed each year. We have one Council, with representation from all Districts, giving us strength and unity of purpose.

In 1950-51, we created District 19-F from districts E and D, giving us six District Governors and 23 Zone Chairmen, and 176 clubs. In 1958 C.A.R.E. was adopted as a Multiple District project, and has been given strong support ever since. In 1961, our then special Representative Jack Cooper had a heart attack and died, so Gordon F. Smith our elected Cabinet Secretary, took on the duties of our Special Representative and became our District Secretary employed by Lions International.

We carried on until 1963-64, when with 299 clubs we divided one District-19-C and created 19-G, giving us 7 District Governors. In 1966-67, we divided then District 19-A and created District 19-H, giving us 8 District Governors, 31 Zone Chairmen and 321 clubs, and 12,595 members. In 1968, the Multiple District adopted a second Multiple District project - the Sight Conservation and Eye Bank Program, at the convention in Spokane. This has become an outstanding activity in Multiple District 19.

In 1970-71, we again divided Districts 19-A and 19-H, creating District 19-I, giving us 9 District Governors, 46 Zone Chairmen, and 375 clubs. In 1970, the British Colombia Lions Society for Crippled Children was established at the convention in Penticton and has gained wide acclaim throughout the world because of the magnitude of the project. In 1980, the Multiple District Hearing Program was approved and it is another outstanding Multiple District 19 project.

From that first convention in 1923 with 9 clubs and 465 members, the Multiple District grew to 525 clubs in 1983 with 19,105 members. As of June 1st, 2002, we have 14,880 members in 508 clubs, with 9 District Governors and 70 Zone Chairmen. Our Multiple District Council consists of 22 members, Council Chairman, Council Chairman-elect, Immediate Past Council Chairman, Executive Secretary, nine District Governors, and nine Immediate Past District Governors.

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UPDATED Oct 17, 2017