Melvin Jones and Fort Thomas


Located at Fort Thomas, Arizona, the Melvin Jones Lions International Memorial was erected and dedicated in 1965. This came years after a movement by the Arizona Lions to find a way to honor Melvin Jones, founder of one of the largest humanitarian service organizations in the world, "LIONS CLUBS INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION."

Melvin was born on January 13, 1879, at Fort Thomas Arizona at a time when the west remained unsettled because the Apache Indians were making their last stand against the White man's encroachment on their land.

While visiting his birthplace he related a memory of a spanking received at age three for running away from home with his dog to the nearby Gila River. In an interview for an article in the Lions Magazine, Melvin recalled that he was either seven or eight years old when his family moved from Arizona Territory, and his boyhood memories were of horses, blue clad troopers, bugles and war cries, wagon trains, gaunt settlers and dust."

Part of Melvin's schooling was at the Union Business and Chaddock Colleges of Quincy Illinois.

At age 33 he was the sole owner of his own insurance agency in Chicago, Illinois and became a member of the local business circle. After two years, he felt that as influential businessmen, their talents could be better utilized in other areas of community life.

In 1917 after pursuing this thought for four years they formed what is now known as LIONS CLUBS INTERNATIONAL, with 20 delegates representing 27 clubs from around the United States.

The Association became international in 1920, when the Lions of Detroit chartered the Windsor Ontario Lions Club, in Canada,

In 1950, Melvin Jones, who was born on a cavalry outpost in Camp Thomas Arizona was conferred the title of SECRETARY GENERAL of LIONS INTERNATIONAL for life.

Since that time Lions organizations have grown to over 1.4 million members in over 45,000 clubs.

Lionism's dedication to aiding the blind grew out of a speech by Helen Keller in 1925, when she challenged the Lions to become "Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness." In today's Lion world Lions not only dedicate themselves to the visually impaired but to programs for preventable and corrective eye diseases, and have moved to dedication of the hearing impaired, youth programs, Diabetes and aid in disaster programs all over the world.

Melvin Jones the founder of this great service organization, died in 1961. His philosophy of life, "you can't get very far until you start doing something for somebody else," lives in out motto "WE SERVE."

In 1961 the International Board of Directors proclaimed January 13 (the birthday of our founder, Melvin Jones) as a day of memory each year though out the world of Lionism. Founders and Rededication month traditionally observed in January, shall thereafter be designated as Melvin Jones Memorial month.

Thererafter every year on the Saturday closest to the 13th of January, Lions though out the world gather to pay tribute to Melvin Jones who said, "Dreams are the fool ideas of day before yesterday that become the commonplace miracles of today."

In June 1999 the Lions International Board gave this prestigious fifty foot spire recognition as an International Shrine. On several occasions before his passing, Melvin visited the site of his birth and participated with the Arizona Lions groups that laid the foundation for the memorial now honoring his name.

All donations of $250, $500 and $1000 are suitably recognized on the Wall of Fame, which is mounted in the Melvin Jones Lions International Memorial Building for all to view.

If you are visiting the southwestern United States, take the opportunity to visit your founders birthplace.