Kaua’i native Melvin Nakamura was elected as an International Director of the International Association of Lions Clubs at its 85th International Convention in Osaka, Japan on July 12.
Nakamura was elected at the International Convention after being nominated by Hawai’i Lions members. In his new position he will serve alongside 33 others who make up the Board of Directors and four International officers.
The primary responsibilities of international officers and Board of Directors are to develop programs and policies to benefit the more than 1.3 million Lions throughout the world.
Nakamura will also represent the International Association of Lions Clubs at various district and state conventions and may even do some international traveling. Nakamura said he’s already attended a convention in Arkansas and will come to Kaua’i for the Sept. 12 Zone Gathering.
The International Association of Lions Clubs was formed in Chicago in 1917 by Melvin Jones. Jones’ mission was to form a group that would provide service to humanity. There are more than 1,900 Lions in Hawai’i and 1.4 million men and women in 186 countries who volunteer their time to serve their communities. Lions Clubs lead the worldwide endeavor to conquer blindness.
Since 1980 the Hawai’i Lions has been responsible for corneal transplantation through the Eye Bank organ donor program.
Nakamura is a member of the Waioli Lions Club (43 members serving Manoa), District 50 Hawaii Lions, and is the eighth Lion from Hawai’i to be elected to this position since Lions Clubs was established in Hawai’i in 1926.
He’s also served as District Governor of the Hawai’i Lions in 1994-95. In June 2000 he served as Host Committee Chair for the 83rd Lions Clubs International Convention, which included more than 30,000 Lions and their families from various countries.
Nakamura said he joined the Lions in 1978, 24 years ago. “It gave me an opportunity to give back to the community, do volunteer work and I think even today that’s my primary goal,” he said.
In Hawai’i, the focus is on getting more members on the board. Another emphasis is getting more younger members who are just out of college and beginning their lives. Nakamura said his theme this year is the importance of volunteer organizations and serving together with aloha.
“Today, with so any families in need, there is more opportunity to do volunteer work,” Nakamura said.
Nakamura grew up in Kapa’a. His family owned Nakamura Store across from the Roxy Theater in Kapa’a Town. The store, run by his parents and other family, closed just before Hurricane ‘Iniki. His brother, Paul Nakamura, still lives on Kaua’i.
Nakamura graduated from Kapa’a High School in 1954. He attended the University of Hawai’i and the University of Illinois, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering in 1959.
After a two-year term in the military, he worked at the Honolulu Gas Company and retired after 31 years of service.
He and wife Nancy have two sons: Kyle and wife Carol; and Curt and wife Charlene and grandson Riley.