Lions induct ex-sheriff as district governor at international convention in South Korea

By By Dick Mason The Observer July 06, 2012 12:32 pm

Busan, South Korea, is a paradoxical place — a city that is as futuristic as it is anchored in the past.

Former Union County Sheriff Steve Oliver of Summerville understands this well. Oliver recently spent a week in Busan taking in the city’s history, its cutting edge present and getting prepared for his future — one as the new governor of the Eastern Oregon and Central Oregon district of Lions Club International.

Oliver was inducted as the governor of District G at the Lion’s annual international convention in Busan. Oliver and all other new governors also received four days of training in a metropolis that took their breath away.

 “It’s the most modern city I have every seen,’’ said Oliver, who served as Union County Sheriff for 12 years through early 2005.

Oliver said Busan is filled with towering skyscrapers, buildings which contain almost all of the city’s apartments and many of its permanent residences.

“I did not see any houses (in Busan),’’ Oliver said.

Busan’s modern features include Shinsegae Centum City, a 14-story shopping and entertainment complex. Oliver said it is considered the largest department store in the world. 

The department store and skyscrapers stand in stark contrast to the more than 25 Buddhist temples in Busan, many of which are centuries old. The temples Oliver visited included Beomeosa, built in 678.  

Busan, which is more than 1,500 years old, is South Korea’s second biggest city, with 3.4 million people, after Seoul, which has 10 million people. Oliver said drivers in Busan are wild. Motorists often run red lights, switch lanes dangerously and make crazy U turns. Oliver once saw the driver of large tour bus make a U turn on a busy street.

Oliver was amazed by such driving and stunned that the South Korean people do not seem to mind it.

“Nobody ever honks. Everyone is so courteous,’’ Oliver said.

The Summerville resident was one of 58,000 members of Lions Club International from many nations at the convention. Oliver was inspired by presentations made on worldwide projects Lions International is focusing on including measles, a leading cause of blindness. Lions International is teaming with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to conduct a massive measles vaccination campaign, Oliver said. One of the campaign’s objectives is to get 41 million children in Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mali and Nigeria vaccinated.

Busy year ahead

Oliver, who is succeeding James Stagl of Central Oregon as governor of District G, anticipates traveling thousands of miles visiting clubs in his region during his one-year term as governor. District G has 35 clubs throughout Eastern Oregon and Central Oregon, all of which Oliver will be visiting. The district has 1,080 members, a number Oliver hopes to increase,

One step he hopes to take to boost membership is increase the number of Leo Clubs in the district. Leo Clubs are those for young people age 18 and younger. District G district presently has about two Leo clubs. 

Oliver has been a member of Lions International since 1977. He has worked as a substitute teacher in Union County since retiring as sheriff. Oliver may curtail his work as a substitute teacher over the next year so that he can focus on serving as governor of District G. The southernmost town on the west side of District G is La Pine, and the southernmost town on its east side is Jordan Valley. District G’s northern boundary is the Oregon-Washington state line east of Cascade Locks.

Oliver performed his first official duty as District G governor Thursday night when he inducted officers for the Weston-McEwen club at a ceremony in Weston.