Goal of Civitan

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Batesville Civitan Club charter member D.R. Roberts was the banquet speaker Saturday night at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the club’s founding. Roberts is the only charter member still active in the club. The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

Make our place better’ goal of Civitan, says charter member

By Rita Howell

A community milestone was marked on Saturday night as members of the Batesville Civitan Club celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding.

With 37 members, including one charter member, on the roll today, the organization seems as active and motivated as it was when 41 men joined together to form the club in May, 1958.

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Members, spouses and guests gathered July 11 at Paw Paw’s Restaurant for a steak dinner to celebrate the accomplishments of the Civitans, who are known for their flags and fruitcakes. Club members post American flags around town on national holidays and sell Claxton Fruitcakes at Christmas time to fund their work.

D.R. Roberts, the lone charter member who’s still active in the club, addressed the group to recap its history.

“Our goal then and now is to please God and make our place a better place in which to live,” he said.

He recalled early service projects, like the used wheelchairs which were refurbished by club members and sent with a mission group to Honduras.

“The people who got them were elated,” Roberts said. “They’d never seen wheelchairs.”

Still a tradition is the club’s annual Radio Day, when members take over station WBLE, manning the mics and soliciting bids on auction items which are donated by merchants in the community.

Roberts noted that one year a bushel of sweet potatoes brought a winning bid of $500.

Members interviewed at random seemed to agree that perhaps their most satisfying project has been volunteer work at the South Panola School District’s Child Development Center. Through the years Civitans have shown up three days a week to take the special needs children on walks. They once built and equipped an exercise room for use when the students couldn’t go outside. And every year the Civitans host an end-of-school cookout for them.

The group hosts a Christmas party for underprivileged children, and for years the club sent a large group of local high school students to the state Civitan Youth Citizenship Seminar.

Roberts reminded the group that charter member J.C. Sparks had chosen the Batesville Civitans’ nominee for Miss Hospitality in 1965. Ann Kitchens went on to claim the state title.

A Junior Civitan Club chartered at South Panola High School is still active today, Roberts said.

The Civitans built a baseball field for local children and installed a shelter for handicapped football fans to sit in during games at South Panola High School.

The Civitans own their own club building in downtown Batesville. When Calvary Baptist Church lost their building to fire, the Civitans offered their building for use for Sunday School classes.

Civitan president Randy Boren awarded 50-year service plaques to Roberts and posthumously to Joe B. Hartley, who served as secretary of the club until his death earlier this year. His son Richard Hartley accepted the plaque.

Recognized for their long service to the community through Civitan were: Buddy Wilder, Glenn Adams, Jim Cook, Danny Jones, Howard Holden, Richard Holder, Ralph Berryhill, Wallace Cochran, Bob Brewer and William Smith.

In addition to Boren, officers of the club include: Cecil Sharp, vice president; Charles Cobb, secretary; Buddy Wilder, treasurer; Charles Locke, chaplain; Bob Brewer and Ricky Swindle, sergeants at arms.

Other members are Glenn Adams, Eric Avery, Billy Benson, Ralph Berryhill, Jerry Clark, Wallace Cochran, James P. Cook, Craig Sheley, Howard Holden, Richard Holder, David Honnoll, Byron Houston;

 Tom Simmons, William Smith, Brian Wilkes, Otis E. Johnson, Danny Jones, Mike Jones, Jimmy McCloud, Larry Mitchell, Peter Pattridge, Bruce Pennington, Don Powers, Fletcher Powers, Scott Respess, Ricky Shirey, Richard Smith, Adam Weed and Randy Willis.