At a special dinner at the Ship Lantern Inn, the Marlboro-Milton Lions Club honored a number of members who have been in the club for decades, but no one even came close to Joe Noto, who has been a member for 70 years.
Noto, who is 92 years young, joined the club in 1951. He said the club, “is part of my life. We’re active and we did a lot in the Town of Marlborough. We started out cooking for the kids in school, giving out Christmas presents; I don’t know where to start, we just did so much.”
Noto said early on he was a tail-twister; the person responsible for instilling enthusiasm and good fellowship at the meetings, ensuring harmony and can impose and collect fines upon members.
Noto has also served as Vice President, President and has been on the Lions board for 25 years with perfect attendance.
“I’m just proud to be a Lion,” he said.
Ralph Walters is a 50 year member of the club. When asked what Lions means to him, he laughed and said, “a lot of work.” He has worn many hats while in the club; president, secretary, treasurer and board member.
“When the Treasurer at the time took ill and the person filling in didn’t want the position we switched places. He took whatever place I had and I took Treasurer and I have been that ever since,” he said.
Anthony Porpiglia, a 35 year member, said Joe Trapani Sr. sponsored him into the club.
“In 1985 he asked me to go to a meeting and join and before I knew it, I was in and as an electrician you help with the Christmas lights,” he said. “The Lions Club has had a great membership for a long time [with] a lot of great business people in the area.”
Porpiglia said the camaraderie of the club is what has kept him a member for so long.
“It is a great organization and everybody is looking out to help the community; it’s always giving back,” he said, adding that the club has a vital female contingent, of which his wife Paula has previously served as president.
Jean Woodward was honored for her 20 years of service in the club. She said her husband Bill, with whom she has been married to for 60 years, has been a member even longer.
“To me the Lions Club means that I help a lot of people and I like all the people in the club too,” she said. “We like to help the community and have always been involved.”
James Kent was honored for his 10 years of service.
“It’s a nice organization and we all work together,” he said. “The two high school scholarships are also one of the things that we do.”
Kent said when the pandemic was at its peak, club members helped deliver meals to people who were isolated in their homes. At one point they were delivering up to 275 meals, three times a week and the Lions Club played an important role in the food drive.
Kent said the club needs to attract new, younger members.
“I’m one of the youngest guys here; at 54, that’s scary,” he said. “It will be interesting seeing what happens going down the road.”
Supervisor Al Lanzetta has been a Lion for nearly 15 years.
“The Lions mean a lot; it’s a community drive type of thing. The club does a lot of good things, especially with the eyesight checkups and glasses and hearing appointments That’s what the Lions are known for. It’s a great opportunity for people to meet each other and they are a great organization, even worldwide.” He served as the club’s president for two years; “I’ve had that honor.”
Lanzetta urged new residents moving into town to join Lions, saying the club is, “close to my heart.”
Steve Jennison has been a club member for 10 years and will be stepping down as President after serving for three years.
“It’s absolutely bittersweet, but this last year with Covid, I’m glad I stayed on just to keep the continuity going and we were able to accomplish great things for our community, which I think is important” he said. “When we delivered the food at the doors, you could still see the smiles on the seniors’ faces through their masks. They were just so happy to see somebody and I think that every day people lost sight of that as they were just home-bound.”
Jennison said, “It was a pleasure seeing Joe Noto get his 70th pin this year and Ralph Walters his 50th. Wow!, I wasn’t even born then.”
Steven Ludwigson, who will be taking over the reins of President from Jennison, said he is looking forward to serving in this capacity for the club.
“There’s a little bit of trepidation there but it’s a good group of guys,” he said. “They put up the Christmas lights, they have the Senior Day at the park and everybody’s involved. I hope I can live up to what he [Jennison] has done in the last three years. He did a great job.”