Melvin was born on a cavalry outpost in Camp Thomas, Arizona on January 13, 1879. This was 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, 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. Since that time Lions organizations have grown to over 1.3 million members in over 43,000 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, corrective eye diseases, and the hearing impaired,
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 was conferred the title of SECRETARY GENERAL of LIONS INTERNATIONAL for life.
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 our 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 throughout the world of Lionism. Founders and Re-dedication month traditionally observed in January, shall thereafter be designated as Melvin Jones Memorial month.
Thereafter. every year on the Saturday closest to the 13th of January. Lions throughout the world gather to pay tribute to Melvin Jones who said, “Dreams are the fool ideas of the day before yesterday that have become the commonplace miracles of today.”