IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE being a member of anything for 50 years, but for Carroll Wantz, a member of Taneytown Lions Club, it's hard to imagine not being a Lion.
"I joined the Lions two years after it was formed in 1947," Wantz said. "They wanted me to join then, but I told them I'm not going to join unless I can go to all the meetings and I'm too busy now with my business."
Wantz, who owned the plumbing business Wantz Brothers Inc., waited two years before becoming a Lion. Fifty years and 1,200 consecutive meetings later, Wantz is still going strong.
The octogenarian said he never thought much about how long he had been involved until he looked at group pictures from the early days and noticed not too many faces in those pictures were still around.
"When I looked at those pictures, I wondered how I had lived so long," he said with a laugh. "We still have three active charter members that were there from the beginning. They're all older than I am."
Harry Dougherty, Robert Feeser and Delmar Riffle, who helped found the club, celebrated their golden anniversary with the club two years ago.
In honor of his service, Wantz was named a Melvin Jones Fellow. Melvin Jones, a Chicago businessman, founded the original Association of Lions Clubs in 1917. The award is the Lions Club International Foundation's highest honor.
"He's always there to help out," said fellow Lion Claude Elmore. "For many years he was our official greeter. He and his wife, Mabel, help put the monthly newsletter together and, in some cases, hand-deliver it to other members."
During the meeting, he received the Melvin Jones Fellow, his chevron for 50 years of service, and his 50th perfect attendance pin. The Lions meet the second and fourth Tuesdays each month.
Wantz, 85, explained that attendance doesn't have to be in a member's club.
"My wife and I went to Florida one winter and I attended meetings in Florida," he said.
Wantz said he couldn't remember why he joined, but that his half-century association with the club has been memorable and rewarding.
"It's been an interesting 50 years," he said. "We do all kinds of things. We support the Little League. We help out in eye research. We have all kinds of fund-raisers. In fact, we have a breakfast coming up. I love working at those. You meet all kinds of people and see many old friends."
While many things have remained the same in the club, Wantz said he misses one change.
"Years ago, we always had singing before we ate," Wantz said. "We even had a book of songs. Today, there's not much singing anymore. I really miss that."
The six Lions Clubs in northwestern Carroll County will sponsor a gospel concert with performances at 2 p.m. and 7: 30 p.m. Sunday at Westminster High School.
Two national groups, the Florida Boys and the Golden Covenants (formerly Stamp's Quartet), and two Maryland groups, the Nichols Sisters of New Windsor and the Servant's Heart from Denton, will perform.
"If we get sold out, we'll make more than $20,000," said Wayne Adams, a member of Union Bridge Lions Club.
Adams said the event is a fund-raiser to earn money for Lions Vision Research Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"We're putting out a program book that various businesses have helped sponsor," Adams said. "That separate operation has paid for our expenses for the concert. So anything we make from the concert now will go directly toward the research center."
Tickets purchased in advance are $5 for balcony seats and $10 for those on the floor level. Tickets sold at the door will be $1 more for both types of seats.
The six clubs involved are from Harney, Taneytown, Terra Rubra, Union Bridge, New Windsor and Sulphur Spring. Information: 410-775-2625.
Haunted barn to wrap up
Taneytown Jaycees' 23rd Haunted Barn will wrap up this weekend. This is the club's biggest fund-raiser.
"We hope to make approximately $28,000," said Hope Hoffman, president of the nonprofit organization. "We use some of the money to maintain the barn, which we own. But the rest of the money goes toward needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also give donations throughout the year."
Hoffman said about 50 volunteers staff the barn each night, many of them youths.
"They can earn community service hours this way," she said.
The barn will be open at 7 p.m. today, and 7: 30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the barn will be open for smaller children. The children will be able to trick-or-treat through the barn with the lights on. On Sunday, the barn will be open from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Information: 410-756-4575 or 301-473-7473.
Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.