Kennon doing ‘outstanding job’ as first female Lions Club president

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; &uot;Natchez Lions Club District 30-I is now in session&uot; is a familiar opening phrase in the Ramada Inn on Tuesdays for lunch.

The Natchez Lions club has been operating since 1942. And while the greeting may be a familiar one, the voice behind it has changed dramatically.

Cathey Kennon started her presidency of the Lion’s Club on July 1, beginning a one-year term and a new legacy in Natchez.

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Kennon is the first woman to be president of the club, just nine years after the first women were allowed into the club nationally.

&uot;I think taking women into the club has been a valuable asset,&uot; Clarence Bowlin, 40-year Lions Club member and former president, said.

There was a group of women known as the Lionesses that was essentially the women’s version of the club, but that club was defunct in Natchez even before women were allowed into the Lions Club.

Kennon takes her role as leader very seriously and, like many in the club, felt it was a great time for a change.

&uot;It’s about time women stand up and work for their community,&uot; Kennon said.

Bowlin sponsored Kennon to be in the club. The two bowled together and he thought she would be a good Lion, he said. Part of what impressed Bowlin was that Kennon owns her own business &045; Taxes by Cathey.

Bowlin is very supportive of Kennon as a member and as president.

&uot;I think she is doing an outstanding job as president,&uot; Bowlin said. &uot;We make no distinction between women and men in the club.&uot;

Kennon is not alone in her authority. The other two members sitting at the head table with her at meetings also are women &045; Treasurer Sandy Boyte and Secretary Betty Jeane Smith.

Glenda Daniels, the first woman to serve as lion tamer and tail twister, said many wives of Lion’s Club members have worked behind the scenes with the club years before they could become members.

Daniels said she decided to join the club because if she was going to volunteer, she might as well be a member.

She and Smith, both wives of members, were two of the first women to join, and they recruited other women as well.

Daniels said she is glad to see a woman in the head leadership role.

&uot;It was time for a change,&uot; she said. &uot;We were ready for a change &045; for a woman.&uot;

And the men in the club, like Bowlin, are supportive of the women members and Kennon.

&uot;I think it’s great,&uot; Sonny Daniels said. &uot;We’ve needed a woman president because sometimes we need fresh ideas.&uot;

And Kennon is still learning her role. In the third meeting of her tenure, she spoke firmly but when performing actions &045; calling for motions and seconds &045; she made sure she was doing it properly, saying, &uot;I think I did that right,&uot; after the first action Tuesday afternoon.

She was coached from the audience and the next time, after doing it exactly right, she said, &uot;I’m learning.&uot;

Kennon, even through learning, is continuing the legacy of the club, carrying on the same contributions to community members in need.

Tuesday the club approved $1,000 for the all-star Dixie baseball team to travel to the state tournament &045; just one of the contributions the club makes.