LEWISTON – Robert F. Shively, a former district governor for the Lions Club, was recently named Niagara County’s Senior Citizen of the Year for 2014.
Shively, 73, has been active in the Lions Club for the past 25 years, including a stint as district governor in 2005-06.
“I was in charge of all the Lions Clubs in Western New York,” he said. “Now I’m just a PDG – past district governor. I get called all the time to go and install people into the Lions Club, or officers for their coming year. It’s an exciting time in my life, let’s put it that way.”
There are 56 Lions Clubs in Western New York, thus keeping Shively busy.
Kenneth M. Genewick, director of the county Office for the Aging, said Shively is president of the Niagara County Council of Older Adults, which is part of the Health Association of Niagara County.
“We put out a request to have people nominate their choices,” Genewick said. “He’s got no direct connection to our office.”
“My secretary for the Lions Club sent in my nomination form. I had no idea it was even being put in, until we had a meeting and he started reading this letter he had put in. And then he says, ‘And you won,’ ” Shively recalled.
He said the award was “a nice surprise.”
Shively has been a member of the Town of Niagara Lions Club since 1989. He is a past president of that chapter and currently serves as its treasurer.
The Lions Club has always been interested in programs regarding help to the blind and visually handicapped, and Shively is the current director of the New York State and Bermuda Lions SEE Program, which stands for “Screening Eyes Early.”
He goes to local Head Start program locations and takes photos of children’s eyes with a special camera. The photos are sent to the University at Buffalo for review by ophthalmologists, who determine if any of the kids need treatment to prevent current or future problems.
Shively estimated that he has personally screened 8,000 children for eye issues.
Shively, a Pennsylvania native, worked 36 years at Occidental Chemical Corp. in Niagara Falls, mostly as a shift foreman and supervisor.
“I was in charge of the custodians, the yard people, the auto shop and outside contractors,” he said.
After retirement in 1996, he joined the Hooker/Occidental Retirees Club and eventually became its president.
He also works part time at Niagara Falls Country Club.
Shively and his wife, Joan, are marking their 49th wedding anniversary this month. Joan is a member of the Lionesses, a separate women’s club that works with the Lions.
They have five children, 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.