Knight of Month
Knight of the Month Chairman
January Knight of the Month - Joe Cook, Council #5025
Joe Cook was born and raised in St Mary of the Woods Parish. He and his six siblings attended St Mary of the Woods grammar school. Joe attended Loyola Academy, then went to Columbia University in New York City, where he earned a degree in history and played football earning All Ivy League Honors as a Linebacker.
Joe earned his law degree at The John Marshall Law School and began his law career at the Cook County States Attorney Office assigned to the Criminal Appeals, the Narcotics Bureau, and the Gang Crimes Unit. Joe also serves as a Major in the United States Air Force JAG Corp, where he is currently assigned as Area Defense Council for the National Guard. In addition, Joe currently works as a senior attorney for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.
Community service is also integral to Joe's personal life. He has been a volunteer coach at numerous schools including St Mary of the Woods and DePaul Prep. Previously, Joe served as president of the Holy Name Society at St Mary of the Woods Parish. Currently, he serves as the Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Tripp Healy Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on providing scholarship opportunities for underserved students.
Joe took his First Degree in August of 2018. He has been an active member in the Fr Ryan Council ever since and currently serves as Program Director. He attends all of events including fund raising events and frequently volunteers to serve on committees.
In 2019, Joe served as Chairman for the Free Throw Contest and successfully engaged 45 participants and several parents. This was the most widely attended and successful Free Throw Contest in recent years.
Joe and his wife, Jenny, are active members in SMOW and attend Mass regularly as a family. Joe's Catholic faith runs deep and strong. He exemplifies the Knights of Columbus core values of Faith-Family-Fraternity and serves his parish and community exponentially.
December Knight of the Month - Robert Becci, Council #654
Assisted with KCIC Poster contest, Assisted with Essay contest, Faith Director Council 654 2020-2021, 1 Yr Trustee Council 654 2020-2021, even at his advanced age participates in majority of Council activities and very active in parish activities
November Knight of the Month - John Heneghan, Council #4849
John has been a Knight in our council for 10 years, and has participated in our 5K walk/runs since their inception in 2017, in memory of deceased Sir Knight Mark Bancroft, who was a member of our council. In addition, John has served as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at Symphony Nursing Home until the pandemic. When we were permitted to attend Holy Mass again in the Rockford diocese (June 2020), John and his wife Pat stepped up to help with cleaning and ushering for various Masses and has continued to help since.
October Knight of the Month - Matthew Duckworth, Council #12801
This month’s Knight of the Month has only been a Knight for two years. When the call went out for volunteers to help reopen St. John’s he and his wife were among the first to answer that call. Since that time, they have both been assisting at their assigned mass every weekend since June. They also assist at Wednesday and other Weekday masses as needed. They have definitely stepped into the breach to welcome parishioners back to church. He is also an active member of That Man is You in our parish. He is putting faith in action, especially during this pandemic.
September Knight of the Month - Jim Baker, Council #5754
Jim Baker has been a steady voice for the unborn and support to mothers and their babies. In September, Jim, and his wife Nancy, were instrumental in the preparation for, and presentation of, the Silver Rose at the Holy Family Mass and Prayer Service honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. In September, he has launched a Baby Bottle Boomerang to support the First Step Women's Center in Springfield helping to provide materials and supplies to support the counseling and administering of the ultrasound for women who are indecisive to staying the course to motherhood.
In the past, he was effective in collecting support for the mobile van and ultrasounds. He also actively collects supplies and donations for the Pregnancy Care Center of Springfield, supporting newborns and their mothers. Although Jim has served most Council positions (e.g., Deputy Grand Knight to Treasurer) in his career, he continues to serve where needed, recently as Trustee, and now Parish Pro-Life Chair and Blood Coordinator for his area, key in this time of pandemic. Jim also gives blood at least two times a year. He is a steady member of the team in Athens for the September Intellectual Disabilities Fund Drive.
Jim Baker has been a model for the Knights of Columbus, serving the Council, his Parish, and the community. Although Jim has given up his role as organist (8 years) and Eucharistic Minister, he continues to serve as Lecturer for his Parish. You will find him supporting the Church through Spaghetti Fund Drives, in supporting youth encounter programs and supporting Marriage Encounters for the community.
With dedicated, yet quiet service, compassion and devotion to family, a desire to grow his family and the future youth, with a sense of desire to help other families and their marriages, Jim stands as an example for all. We present James Baker as Council 5754's Knight of the Month. His long and dedicated service in faith and service can be seen in his dedication to his spouse, his four faithful children -- the oldest a Deacon in the Chicago area, and multiple grandchildren throughout Illinois, a family of faith and service!
August Knight of the Month - Tim Wuerger, Council #11091
Tim has been a great Knight for us. He's been overlooked for Knight of Month for too long. He helped with our recycled program this month help dropping off of the cans at the recycling center. His hitch broke during the trip but he didn't complain at all. We get another truck and got the cans delivered and our check.
July Knight of the Month - Paul Braddock, Council #12497
Paul Braddock is a committed Knight who has led our Council as Membership Chairman for many years, stepping down this year. In past he has led all sorts of activities from our "Easter Egg" hunts, "Knight Before Christmas" membership drive, to our highly successful multi-parish event "Mercy For The Starving" raising over $31,000 where over 700 people gathered over 3 days to pack meals under the Feed My Starving Children program.
I am recommending Paul for Knight of the Month for the following NEW program. In conjunction with our Ladies Aux. group and and St. Patrick Parish Service Committee established the "Operation Brighten Someone's Day". The purpose is to make fresh flower arrangements and delivery them to residents in assistant living centers. A committee member approached a local merchant for fresh flower donations that are typically disposed of at a point in time. Having flowers but lacking vessels, Paul arranged with the LAX and the Knights to collect unused vases. The members collected about 70 vases which will be used to make fresh flower arrangements to be delivered to those residents in assisted living centers to "Brighten Their Days".
Clearly a great Knights (with help from LAX and others) program that helps to Leave No Neighbor Behind.
June Knight of the Month - Charles Graziano, Council #12801
This month’s Knight of the Month has been a Knight for 17 years. He has been an officer in our council since 2009. He wears many hats in our council. As cook, he can be found in our kitchen every pancake breakfast, fish fry, and church picnic. He runs our bingo tent at the village summer celebration each year – getting volunteers to work the tent, setting up the speaker system, and calling bingo. In fact, he has been there the entire 3 days of the event year after year. He helps at our annual 5k, which benefits our local food pantry. In addition, he has been a gold sponsor of our 5k event for the seven years we have held it. He has been a large part of our Leave No Neighbor Behind response, shopping for and delivering food to our local pantry. His officer position requires many hours of work behind the scenes completing paperwork and keeping the council’s books in order.
May Knight of the Month - Jim Russell, Council #8699
Jim has been our recorder for the last four years and was Comptroller for our Assembly for a year. Since the Corona Virus Pandemic Jim has helped me with setting up our meeting on Webex. He has also helped me organize a family rosary prayer night on Webex. Jim had to assist three of our brothers with navigating on Webex. One of our brothers who is confined to his home due to physical limitation needed an extra amount of help which Jim gave him. Jim also helped a brother knight with his computer which he was having trouble with. This brother is living in a retirement home and can't have visitors so Jim went and pickup his computer at the receptionist's desk and took it home. He worked on it for 2 days and finally returned it to the facility in good working order. Jim has called numerous brother knights and a widow of a brother checking on their health and well being. He is practicing our initiative of Not Leaving a Neighbor Behind.
April Knight of the Month - Gary Gleason, Council #1911
Gary is dedicated Knight, serving as our Council's Recorder and as an officer in our home corporation, the 1911 Club. During April, as our hall was closed due to the state stay-at-home order, Gary spent many hours on improvement projects and maintaining the hall, getting it ready for our council blood drive. As the blood drive was happening during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gary, who has expertise in asepsis procedures, saw the need for PPE to ensure safety at the event. He was able to procure and donate protective gloves, masks and face shields for the donors and volunteers. Gary monitored safety practices at the event and even had time to make a last minute blood donation.
March Knight of the Month - Charles Gust, Council 14825
Charlie is an exemplary Knight. A charter member of the Council, Charlie was instrumental at establishing and leading our biggest fundraiser, the Fish Fries. He rose through the ranks to become Grand Knight.
He has lead the Fish Fries, a monumental task, for the ten years of the Councils existence. In this time, he has always made an effort to speak to all who work the events and most of the attendees, encouraging unity and promoting fraternity among the council members and our St Rita community. We choose to honor him on the anniversary of our council for his dedication, his hard work and his good humor.
February Knight of the Month - Robert Perri, Council 12801
This month’s Knight of the Month has been a Knight for 14 years. He transferred to our council a couple years ago and has been instrumental in starting new fund-raising programs. The first program he was involved in was The Cross Light in the Darkness. Most recently he introduced plastic collection boxes which are placed in local businesses. The funds raised by these programs have increased our ability to fund more charitable projects. He has served in many positions over the years, and is currently our Advocate and Charity Ambassador to the State Council.
January Knight of the Month - Gary A. Ludwig, Council 11100
He has taken care of our Council's Free Throw Shooting Contest for the past 10 years, for the first years he had it on Sunday, then he move to having the contest during the school day, were he could get the students to patriciate, with the partition of the principal, witch brought numbers up, so we could send contestants to the district. the first years that he was in charge he got trophies then for the last three years he got K of C Basketballs. He ordered the paper work and filled it. He makes sure that the parents know when the District contest is, so that our council is well represented. He goes to the district to help out and to bring the paper work so no forms are lost. This year there was 91 patriciates in our contest.
December Knight of the Month - Jason E. Tornero, Council 735
Brother Jason was part of a discussion to take our banner to be put in a frame. This banner is over 100 years old. when taken to be cleaners we were told that because of its age that it would be destroyed in the process. Brother Jason took significant time to research getting the banner mounted and framed with the dated framing, To all members including our Parish Priest Rev Brian A. Geary it looks amazing.
November Knight of the Month - Larry White, Council 8699
Larry is very active in our council and is a past Grand Knight. He has been our chair person for recruiting for many years. We had a very successful recruitment in November with 8 names of candidates which are coming in the future to receive the Admission Degree. Larry was present at all the masses for our recruitment weekend. He plays a large part in organizing and in the operation of our pancake breakfasts. He also play the role of the Grand Knight during our Admission Degree Ceremonies and is exceptional speaker.
October Knight of the Month - Br. Felix Martinez, Council 14825
Felix participates in many events and has served as an officer in St Rita of Cascia Council. That is not what separated Felix as an exemplary Brother Knight: after Felix retired he became the unpaid handyman for St Rita's Church and School. He lead the effort to update the Parish Hall replacing the ceiling and the paneling, he assisted updating the parish center and the Rectory.
While his commitment to the parish singles him out as an exemplary Brother Knight, this month his service to the council shined in our moment of need. We held a Knighthood Degree and he helped beforehand to insure that the elevator from the basement Parish Hall was working. Alas, it failed at the end of the day, trapping a brother knight. When called, Felix responded quickly to repair and remove the trapped Knight......
That Knight was none other than the recently retired Deputy Supreme Knight, Dr. Logan Ludwig.
September Knight of the Month - Greg Koester, Council 665
Greg coordinated two of Council 665's biggest events which both fell in September. He was very involved in both the Tootsie Roll Drive and the Family Picnic.
While there was a committee of Brother Knights, including Greg, that were in charge of the Tootsie Roll Drive, Greg was the coordinator. He got the committee members together, he ordered the tootsie rolls and other supplies. He also made all of the food to feed the volunteers.
As for the Family Picnic, for the second year there was no committee taking care of the event, just Greg. He made sure all of the food and drinks were on hand and there were people to prepare it. He took care of getting prizes to give away to a lucky young lady and young man. He had some student volunteers to provide face painting and he had a kiddie tractor pull group on hand to entertain both the kids and the adults.
Honestly, Greg could be nominated every month. We thought this month he was most deserving.
August Knight of the Month - Alex Reichmann, Council 13840
Brother Riechmann has contributed tirelessly maintaining and improving our Fry shed and our many fryers. He worked long hours at our 4th of July food stand, as well as set-up and tear down. He worked shifts at the Monroe County Fair where the council get money for. He was our first Grand Knight when the council stood up. He has organized new events such as Waterloo homecoming stand. He has helped over the years at our stand at the Maeystown Oktoberfest. He attends the majority of our meetings, and he attends Mass regularly.
July Knight of the Month - Frank Esposito, Council 12801
This Knight’s response to a request for help is almost always, “When is it / Where is it / I’ll be there”. He has several soft spots, among them the Special Olympics and Respect Life in particular. He is active in the parish serving as a minister of communion and various other capacities. Despite personal issues and illness, he successfully led our council as Grand Knight for the past 2 fiscal years. Through his leadership, we had record years of service hours and charitable donations.