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Harrison Lions honor 'Ma' Riis and Louis Klein



Harrison Lions honor 'Ma' Riis and Louis Klein

Ma' Riis, grand lady with a mission of service

By Mojave Miller

Two very special Harrison senior citizens, both perkier than most of their juniors, were honored by the Lions Club Wednesday night, Oct. 10, at Emilio's restaurant in Harrison. Both Genevieve "Ma" Riis and Councilman Louis Klein, a 45 year member of the Harrison Lions Club, were toasted with champagne for their selfless public service.

The plaque given "Ma" Riis, counting her 29 years of volunteer work with disabled war veterans, was accompanied by a 1,000 check the Lions' Bowling League gives her annually to entertain veterans. It was her second such honor in a week. At the It's Great to Live in Harrison Day celebration, she was presented with a Loving Cup by Harrison Supervisor John Passidomo, on behalf of the American War Mothers Assoc., for her more than 15,000 hours of volunteer work over the 29 year period.

Cake 6 months late

During the presentation to Mrs. Riis, several members spoke fondly of receiving fruit cakes overseas from "Ma". Danny Angarano, who had been a prisoner of war in the Pacific, remembered his "cake that had shown up six months late, but was still good." Attorney Ben Taylor, with a catch in his voice, recalled "receiving at least one letter a month from "Ma" during the war." Retired police officer Danny Breccio added a moment of humor, "I can't tell you how often," he said, "I'd get a distress call from Ma that she had a little problem. Then I'd rush over, load up the station wagon with all the things she'd baked, ride up to the Veterans Hospital and find the veterans all lined up five deep waiting at the door for Ma's visit. She'd always laugh and say, "This is nothing."

Councilman Klein, who retired after 35 years as Superintendent of Harrison Schools, and is now in local government, was honored with a plaque by the Grillo Post for his 45 years of community service, and given a special membership pin by Club President, Dr. William O'Shea, for his 45 years as a Lion. The Harrison Lions club is now 49 years old. Throughout the world there more than a million Lions in public service.

"During Lou's year as president of the Lion's Club, in 1938-39." Mr. O'Shea noted, "he arranged for the sale of blind-made articles; provided Thanksgiving baskets for the needy, protested discontinuance of the bus line, arranged for eye and ear examinations for 11 children, and for a normal education for two blind children; helped secure $80,000 in federal funds for construction of the downtown post office, and promoted construction of a boy scout cabin at Camp Siwony at Wingdale in Putnam County; financed by the Lions. He has also been active in the Heart Fund, Community Chest and United Way. As Chairman of the membership committee he has brought in more lions than any other member. He exemplifies 'Lionism' in its truest meaning." Mr. Klein is currently the club's Chaplain, as well as chairman of the membership and nominating committees.

Unlike "Ma" Riis, who was having trouble holding back tears, after all the kind words and trusted herself only with saying "I want to thank everyone for your support from the bottom of my heart." Mr. Klein with his usual ebullience, thanked everyone for the honor, "I got more out of what I may have done than what I accomplished. We're only here but a short time and I believe Lionism is paying for the privilege of being here with service. Some people go through life squeezing lemons and making things sour. I try to make things better. Thank you for recognizing my 45 years of service."

Harrison Independent 10/18/1979

Showing their plaques: Genevieve "Ma" Riis; Post Commander, Joseph DeLeo of the Joseph R. Grillo Post, W. Harrison; Councilman and Mrs. Louis Klein.


Article from the Harrison Independent covering the Lions Club honoring Ma Riis for her volunteer work with disabled veterans.


Miller, Mojave




Riis, Genevieve

Klein, Louis

DeLeo, Joseph

Harrison Lions Club

Passidomo, John

Anagarano, Danny

Breccio, Danny

O'Shea, William


Harrison Independent






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Miller, Mojave, “Harrison Lions honor 'Ma' Riis and Louis Klein,” Harrison Remembers, accessed June 13, 2024,

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