The DeRidder Lions Club is deeply rooted in the history of the DeRidder community.
The original charter, with the names of the original members of the DeRidder Lions Club from 1942, was recently discovered. One of those charter members was Dr. Luke Marcello. Marcello is the uncle of current Lions Club President John Marcello.
“My uncle was the son of Italian immigrants from Sicily,” John said. “His father was a young Italian immigrant from Sicily with hardly any money in his pocket. He came to this country with a dream that America would give him an opportunity where they could have success.
“When coming over here it was difficult for Italians to find jobs. They were not respected because they came from another country.”
Dr. Marcello graduated from Tulane Medical School and served as a doctor in the area. Although for many years he and his family faced prejudice because of their Italian roots, his work as a doctor broke down ethnic barriers.
“My uncle finished Tulane Medical School and chose to set up his practice in DeRidder,” John said. “Dr. Luke was known for his gentle nature with all people, no matter who they were. It is said that Dr. Luke elevated the perceptions of Italians in the community and helped break down barriers of prejudice.”
Dr. Marcello was one of the last doctors in the area to make house calls.
As a charter member of the Lion’s Club, he was part of many of the group’s early charity work and community service.
“Dr. Luke, alongside a group of doctors and prominent businessmen, organized the the original Lions Club of DeRidder in 1942. This was 25 years after the national club was formed,” John said. “The Lions Club was still new at that time.”
Other than being a charter member, Dr. Marcello was the second President of the Lion’s Club.
Growing up, John did not know everything about his uncle’s work with the Lion’s Club.
John joined the Lion’s Club in 1983 based on the influence of another charter member– his stepfather John Booth Jones, Jr. “I have been in the Lions Club for over 30 years and I am very proud that my uncle was a charter member of the organization,” John said. “I am equally as proud of my stepfather John Booth Jones, Jr. 1979.
“He would tell me about all the early activities from the early Lions Club. Both of his sons, Johnny Jones and Dr. David Jones, are members and past Lions Club Presidents.
“I was blessed to have two great father figures in my life Tony Marcello John Booth Jones.”