By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
When Ron Schulz retired at age 55 to travel with his wife, Darlene, he thought work would stop for a while.
The couple planned to travel for a few years, with Ron eventually returning to work. But once he got involved in helping the community, he found he couldn’t quit.
“Once you start volunteering you get hung for everything,” he says with a chuckle. Schulz joined Lions Club in the 1960s and upon his retirement got more involved in the club and his church.
“You cease to get a paycheck, but you have to work twice as hard,” he continues to say with grin. “It’s hard to say no. People say, ‘You’ve got all this free time.’”
Schulz was born in Breckinridge and moved to Enid in 1954 when he and wife married in 1954.
“I became a Lion in 1966,” he said. “I got involved in the community, giving back to it.”
He worked 25 years at Montgomery Ward’s, spending his last 13 years there in management. He then went to work for the Far-Gas Cooperative.
Schulz got involved with the local Railroad Museum of Oklahoma and joined the local Geronimo Car Club. He also joined a men’s gardening club.
He served on the Library Advisory Board in the early 1960s. The board’s purposes was to oversee what was being done and purchased for the new library.
“There was a lot of controversy around it back then, like with the Renaissance Center,” he said, referring to Enid Event Center, which has drawn a lot of debate in the city.
In 2005, Ron was named treasurer of Immanual Lutheran Church. Despite the job being term-limited, Schulz found changes would be made in light of his performance in the position.
“I found out the only way I’m going to get out of that job is if I die,” he said. “They amended the constitution and bylaws.”
The pride Schulz has in the Lions Club is apparent, especially when he speaks of the group’s community projects, such as diabetes screenings and collecting used eyeglasses to recycle and donate.
In the late-1990s, the club began a mobile health screening unit, which it took across the state conducting five to seven health tests for free.
Schulz said diabetes was the test most sought out by people, so the club began screening just for that disease.
“We always do this diabetes testing at Agrifest in January and the Garfield County Fair in September,” he said. “People look forward to us doing it.”
He said if someone wants to conduct a special screening all they have to do is contact the group and ask.
Schulz said area clubs began collecting eyeglasses after he saw other organizations collecting the eye-ware.
“I came back all charged up to that in Enid, and I was trying to find some old post office boxes here in Enid,” he said.
Though he had some trouble getting the boxes he wanted, Schulz got what the club needed. It now has four drop-off boxes. Each year, Oklahoma Lions Clubs collect between 2,000 to 4,000 pair of glasses.
The eyeglasses are then sorted by prescription strength, cleaned and repackaged in boxes of 50 pair. Most are distributed to people in developing countries where they will have the greatest impact.
“Any of our Lions that want to go to these other countries,” Schulz said. “We give them all they want.”
Schulz said he never imagined he’d be so busy when he retired.
“Everybody told me when we took our retirement we were really going to be bored,” he said. “I found out there really isn’t enough hours in the day.”