MAIN LINE BANTER: Main Line Kiwanis Club honors 70-year member - Main Line

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Moviegoers across the nation were stepping into "The Red Shoes" of Moira Shearer, joining Bob Hope and Bing Crosby on "The Road to Rio" and strutting with Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in the "Easter Parade."

In the real world, Burma, Israel and North Korea were established as independent states, NATO was formed, the Soviet Union blockaded West Berlin and apartheid became the rule in South Africa. Harry S. Truman was president of the United States, Clement Atlee was prime minister of the United Kingdom and Joseph Stalin was the leader of Communist Russia.

Closer to home, residents of the Main Line were living in a fast-paced post-war society where technology, fashion, housing and lifestyles were changing faster than the costumes of a Burlesgue headliner.

The average wages per year were $2,950, the cost of a new house was $7,700, a new car went for $1,250, a gallon of gas poured in at 16 cents, a loaf of bread sliced the wallet for 14 cents and a two-pound bag of coffee perked in at 85 cents.

The year was 1948.

During that time, clubs like the Lions, the Optimist, the Rotary and Kiwanis populated the landscape. Young businessmen joined those clubs throughout the Main Line for regular fellowship and service to various segments of their communities and to the world at large.

Among those young men who became members of the Kiwanis Club of Main Line (the club was chartered in 1926) in 1948 was Leo J. Dolan, a 27-year-old jeweler in Bryn Mawr.

He was inspired to join the club by the Six Objects (values) of the organization: 1) to give primacy to the human and spiritual, rather than the material values of life; 2) to encourage the daily living of The Golden Rule in all human relationships; 3) to promote the adoption and the application of higher social, business and professional standards; 4) to develop by precept and example a more intelligent, aggressive and serviceable citizenship; 5) to provide a practical means to form enduring friendships, to render altruistic service and to build better communities; and 6) to cooperate in creating and maintaining the sound public opinion and high idealism which makes possible the increase of righteousness, justice, patriotism and goodwill.

Today, after seven decades, Leo has committed his time, skills and energy to carrying out the mission of Kiwanis and being true to those values.

In presenting a plaque of recognition to Leo at the celebratory luncheon, Rosemont attorney and club treasurer Ed Heins said:

"Presenting Leo a gold watch would be gilding the lily. Instead, the plaque represents the sentiments of our membership in recognizing Leo's untiring dedication to bringing new member into the club, taking part in scores of activities throughout the years and for helping grow our trust fund [for a variety of local charities and causes] by organizing and running a pro-am golf tournament at St. Davids Golf Club for many years and promoting the clubs annual rose sale every fall.

"This man is the heart of our club, and it's wonderful that he is here today with two of his nine children. Even the sparkle of the plaque can't compete with that Irish twinkle in his eye that, even for a jeweler, is something dazzling."

In addition to the local club, Leo also was recognized by Phil Weber, Kiwanis' PA District governor, as "the oldest continuing member in the state."

On the personal side, Leo has 23 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of St. Davids Golf Club and always has been among its better golfers. Even in his early 90s, he was known to win more than his share of rounds there.

During his years as the owner of Diesinger & Dolan Jewelers, a 130-year, fourth-generation family business in the heart of Bryn Mawr, Leo made many trips to Japan to buy quality pearls. He become friends with several Japanese families in the jewelry market (even staying in their homes on these extended trips) and became known locally as "Mr. Pearl."

A graduate of Roman Catholic High School, Leo has always had a great interest in golf and baseball and basketball in high schools and colleges in the Philadelphia area. If one has the time, he has a wealth of sports stories to share.

A longtime resident of Bryn Mawr, Leo currently lives at Beaumont at Bryn Mawr. He still attends most of the regular weekly meetings of the MLKC that are held at Wyndham Alumnae Hall on the campus of Bryn Mawr College.

When asked how long he would continue his membership in Kiwanis, he said he had no plans to leave.

"After all, it really is a gem of a club."

The Last Word: Good day, good luck and good news tomorrow.

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