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95th birthday extends Kiwanis Club member’s perfect attendance record

Lee Daly, left, at the weekly Kiwanis Club lunch Wednesday.  - Brett Cihon
Lee Daly, left, at the weekly Kiwanis Club lunch Wednesday.
— image credit: Brett Cihon

As any high school senior knows, perfect attendance is no easy feat.

Try perfect attendance for 43 years.

Lee Daly has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Port Orchard since 1968. And in nearly half a century since he first signed up, the 95-year-old Daly has not once missed out on credit for one of the club’s weekly meetings.

“I have perfect attendance so far,” he said. “That is, so far.”

Most of the club’s 50 or so members gathered at the American Legion Hall on Wednesday to celebrate Daly’s 95th birthday. He was greeted by friendly Kiwanians  with smiles and handshakes.

But rather than sit back with a cane and a curmudgeonly frown as many would expect of a man his age, Daly took an active part in the meeting. Standing next to a table, he sold raffle tickets for a club fundraiser.

“He’s sharp as a tack,” said Martin Beisley, a building contractor and Kiwanis Club member. “And he still gets around. Last summer he was up on a roof with me.”

A modest fellow, Daly doesn’t like to pay much attention into his age, his agility, or his perfect attendance.

“They (the years) come whether I want them or not,” he said.

Daly was asked to join the Kiwanis Club of Port Orchard in 1968. Back then, he said, the club was a bit different. Its makeup was exclusively businessmen and city leaders, he said, a demographic that has expanded to women and all demographics over time. Despite the club allowing women to enter the club beginning in 1968, Daly said numbers have dwindled.

“There was about 80 members when I joined,” he said. “Now we have 50.”

Port Orchard has changed too, he said. He reminisces about days when everything from a family grocer to a veterinarian could be found on Bay Street.

“You used to be able to find a doctor downtown, a lawyer downtown,” he said. “Now you have to go all over the countryside to find what you need.”

An Army veteran, Daly moved to Port Orchard in 1962. He found work as Kitsap County’s Civil Defense Director. From there the Kiwanis Club seemed like a good fit.

The club’s longest-tenured member, he has served as president, lieutenant governor and secretary of the club. Now, he’s happy enough to still attend meetings, hand out raffle tickets and help club members set up tables.

“I’m happy without an office,” he said. “Let somebody else take a turn.”

About 15 years ago, Daly took it upon himself to write a history of the Port Orchard club. His knowledge of the club from its inception in 1927 is invaluable, said longtime member Calvin Kendall.

“He has a lot of experience,” he said. “He brings history into the club. He knows what we’ve done.”

The Kiwanis Club of Port Orchard, a section of Kiwanis International, focuses on improving the lives of area students, said Carolyn Powers, a club member who’s on the City Council. On Saturday, the club will partner with Bremerton Kiwanis to offer 1,300 lunches for kids participating in Special Olympics in Bremerton.

“Our main focus is to help the kids,” Powers said. “Lee is instrumental in our mission.”

The club will give special recognition to Daly’s length of service at next week’s regularly scheduled meeting, which will offer an opportunity for members and visitors to interview Daly.

Beyond his age and his knowledge, Daly discussed the benefit the club has had in Port Orchard, and the benefit Kiwanis International has had in all different communities around the world. He encouraged anyone who has an interest in helping the community to check out the club. Either to pick his brain, to enjoy the food or, most importantly, to help the community.

“Anybody who wants to do something for a community should look to Kiwanis,” he said.

 

 

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