Community support is a key goal 

Photo by Barbie Porter
Mary Ditterich took over as the Vergas Lions president in July and plans to serve a full term.

By Barbie Porter


The Vergas Lions are known for having a strong bloodline in its pride. While some may look to leadership when a group soars, President Mary Ditterich explained their pack is full of leaders, and each is also a supporter.

With about 55 members in the Vergas Lions group, the movers and shakers of the community are eager to strengthen community ties and support, host fun fundraising events and promote the city of Vergas.

Ditterich became president when the former president, Denny Breitzman, stepped down due to a spouse falling ill. She said her interim presidential duties began in July, and she plans to continue serving a full term. 

Her duties as president includes hosting the meetings, attending board meetings, increasing membership, helping organize fundraisers and more. 

Lions president grew up inside state park  

Ditterich grew up in Maplewood State Park, before the park became an official state park. She noted her parents sold their land to help form the park.

With a family of seven kids in the family, she joined 4-H and attended a country school until she attended Pelican Rapids High School and graduated.

She met her future husband, Henry, four hours before he left for Vietnam. She visited a bowling alley with friends in Pelican Rapids and he strolled in.

“All my friends knew him,” she said. “We talked, but it was nothing. Still, when he got shot he wrote to me. The letters were hilarious because they were about things like the weather—it was nothing.”

When he returned, the two dated and after a year of courtship they married in 1971.  

Before ending his services with the military the  Pelican Rapids High School 1966 graduate earned a Purple Heart in Vietnam.

Ditterich, a 1969 Pelican Rapids High School graduate,  said she and her husband lived in rural Vergas until her husband’s job moved them to Clarkfield, Minn. 

The two raised two children, a son and a daughter. (They now have five grand kids and two great-grandkids.)

“We moved back to the area in 2011. We were both retired and we always loved it here. This is God’s country; the lakes and scenery.”

Mary Ditterich

Her life has been full of service, which includes the Scouts, church, food shelves, American Legion and more.  Her path of service was brought to the Lions doorstep after meeting Sandy and Dave Antonsen, who asked them to join in 2013.

“We’ve been members since,” she said. 

The immediate impact she saw from being a Lion was the blooming friendships. As they met more people in the lakes area, Ditterich began seeing why the club draws so many from neighboring communities. 

“We work together, we are positive and helpful,” she said. 

After joining the Vergas Lions Club, Ditterich teamed with Linda Krabbenhoft to give the uniform a new design. They traded in the yellow vests for black and attached the Vergas Lions logo on the back of the fabric.

Ditterich said the change was simple, and supported. All they had to do was express an interest in updating the uniforms and the two received full support. 

“We’ve made about 60 vests so far,” she said. 

Aside from sewing fashionable uniforms with her friend and fellow Lion, the 70-year-old listed all the activities the Lions do that she enjoys being part of: Santa Day, Halloween party, Looney Days food, Maple Syrup Fest breakfast, which we do with the Vergas Community Club, the blood drives, helping the Bridge (food pantry of Perham), a free veteran’s dinner, Relay for Life, parades, donate money to the school, such as with robotics, band and prom, help the Boy Scouts and get kids glasses, we host a poster contest, offer scholarships, and more.”

While the Vergas Lions work to help the community and its groups, Ditterich added they also look after one another. When word gets out that a member of their pride needs help, the pack shows in force to do what is needed.