Life is full of surprises. And in the last few months, two events have given me a bit of serendipitous enjoyment.
First was my rediscovery of Lions. In the late 1940s and early 50s, I played on a kid’s baseball team in Chadron, Nebraska, sponsored by the local Lions club. Some 30 years later, I became a Lion in Vermillion, South Dakota and remained an active member for several years. Alas, somewhere along the way, as we moved to Mississippi and I took on one of the most challenging jobs of my career, I slipped away from the Lions. Now that I’m retired, I’ve rejoined, and in the few short months I’ve been a member of the Belle Fourche (SD) Lions, I’ve found it helping me scratch an itch for public service. It’s been extremely gratifying and most enjoyable.
Then, while thumbing through the May 2008 issue of The Lion magazine, I was pleasantly surprised to see a photograph of friend Charles Akins, a charter member of the Austin (TX) Capital City Lions, the first African-American Lions club. The story helps celebrate four decades of outstanding service by the Austin group. That’s Texas State Representative Dawnna Dukes with Charles in the photo above.
A long-time and highly-respected educator, Charles Akins – when I knew him back in the 1970s – was also an avid sports fan. And so it was that he landed a second job as the sportscaster on what was then KLRN-TV, the public television station serving Austin and San Antonio. In his “real life,” Charles was a school principal in Austin. He has long since retired. I was KLRN News Director and news anchor, and I had the good fortune to work with Charles for nearly three years. He was one of the most easy-going people I’ve ever known. Always amiable and extremely professional, Charles’ love for sports – and people – shown through brightly. I’ve always regretted not being able to keep in touch with Charles over the years, and by this posting I am committed to contacting him and adding my congratulations to him and the Capital City Lions Club.
After finding an old 1976 KLRN news staff roster a few minutes ago, I dialed Charles’ home phone number and – he still has the same phone number! Not surprisingly, he wasn’t at home, he was at a track meet! Did I mention that Charles was a real sports fan?
Seeing Charles’ picture has also spurred me to explore some of my old files from those days in Austin. While I’ve kept in loose touch with Terry Lickona, who continues his involvement with Austin City Limits, other staffers are more elusive. Folks like Cyndy Allen, Bob Buckalew, Dot Chaloupka, Roy Faires, Howard James, Gary Witt and others.
So many memories…….blurring a bit with the passage of time, but still fondly held!