The Beginnings in New Zealand
Keith Mitchell chats to Executive Officer David Dawick
The history of Lions in New Zealand must accord special recognition to the role and contribution of Keith Mitchell – “Mr Lion”.
After distinguishing himself in Jaycees, including the office of New Zealand President, Keith became a charter member of the Lions Club of Wellington in 1958 and accepted the position of Lions International New Zealand representative in 1960. His appointment to this role was followed by an incredible period of club growth throughout New Zealand. From less than 20 clubs at that time Keith had the satisfaction of seeing the 400 club plateau reached at the time of his retirement in 1980.
Keith was a man of monumental patience and tremendous commitment. Using his Jaycees associations and a systematic approach he took the message of Lionism to large and small communities throughout the country.
It would be an interesting statistic to know how many miles he travelled in his Rover car as he moved from town to town changing negative attitudes to the formation of Lions Clubs into infectious enthusiasm.
With Keith’s death in February 2013, aged 97, the last remaining direct link with Lions’ founder Melvin Jones is severed. In 1959 during his first visit to what was then the brand new headquarters building in the Chicago suburb of Oakbrook Keith met and talked on several occasions with Melvin Jones and years later recalled his keen interest in the growth of Lions in this South Pacific outpost.