Elizabeth Fantozzi: Marketing & Public Relations Manager
Whether it’s building a headquarters beside the Lakeside Women’s Club or collecting popsicle sticks to build a ship to sail to Kelley’s Island, the Guys’ Club is workin’ on it.
After 20 years of leading the Guys’ Club, longtime Lakesider and Guys’ Club creator Richard Swanson is stepping down.
“The Guys’ Club takes credit for everything positive that has happened in Lakeside over the past 20 years,” Swanson joked. “The Guys’ Club is a big reason why Lakeside is the great community it is today!”
Over the past two decades the club has informally engaged in many projects and provided assistance to various areas at Lakeside.
The Guys’ Club is also well known for their outlandish jokes. In 2001, the Guys’ Club began the hugely popular “Annual Tour of Shops and Sheds” a parody of the Lakeside Women’s Club “Tour of Homes.” Women have occasionally masculinized their names to become members and Swanson also used to write a satire column for the Lakesider.
“Half of Lakeside would believe it and the other half would just laugh,” said Swanson.
Swanson was first introduced to Lakeside by a friend he met through the Methodist Church in Bowling Green, Ohio. He would visit their Lakeside cottage and began developing a deep appreciation for the quaint lakeside community. In the early 70s, Swanson was his church’s youth group leader and he began bringing the group to Lakeside during the fall. After continuing to learn more about the community and falling in love with the lure of Lake Erie, Swanson purchased a Lakeside cottage in 1976.
“The lake really attracted me to this area,” said Swanson. “I was born and raised on the east coast. When I moved to Ohio, Lakeside inspired me to appreciate the lake more than the ocean.”
After settling into Lakeside, Swanson noticed that many of the activities and groups were geared more towards women. He decided to start a club for guys that was committed to having fun and enjoying the company of friends.
“I started the club in 2001 with the intention to start a fun, collaborative club for guys of all ages,” said Swanson. “In 2001 we had 9 members and now we have well over 100 members and about 300 on our Guys’ Club email list.”
Most recently, the club got involved in fundraising and supporting longtime Lakesider and Guys’ Club member Willy Sommervil’s orphanage efforts in Haiti. The club members are very respectful of Sommervil’s humanitarian projects and have always provided assistance when called upon.
As for the Guys’ Club, it remains unknown if it will continue. One of the Guys’ Club members has stepped up to continue the club’s monthly breakfast meetings, and it is likely that this jovial and tight-knit club of Lakesiders will continue in any way they can in the years to come.