The History of Our Council

This brief trip into the history of Council 4764 is but a small journey.  It would be a monumental task to try to spell out in words the names of all the people, places and things that have affected our membership.  We are proud to dedicate this program book to all our members, named and anonymous whose efforts and talents have allowed us to attain the lofty perch we now enjoy.  You will be forever remembered in our council history books, and most importantly, in our memories.

The founding of a Knights of Columbus council does not happen by accident.  Someone has given careful thought to an idea and by bringing it up among their peers, the idea snowballs.  Soon it reaches the district level and plans are drawn, people contacted and one day a new council is born.

So it was with our council… born of an idea, a thought… a dream perhaps… No matter whose idea it was first.  The important thing is that such men as Jack MacLeod, Augie Genereux, Larry Denis and Joe Taylor were around.  Joining forces with Leonard DeRosseau, Stan Picarski and Bill Schwickert.  These men held two meetings at Jack’s house to discuss the idea of a local council.  Subsequent meetings involves Joe O’Conner, the area Knights of Columbus insurance representative,  his boss, Jerry O’Toole, Bill Crotty (Later to become State Deputy) and then District Deputy, Jim Costigan.

When the go-ahead was given, members were recruited from St. Joseph’s Church via the men’s club.  Sixty-four men became charter members when the Supreme Office granted the charter on April 12, 1959.  Jack MacLeod was elected as the first Grand Knight.  Rev. Fr. Vincent Myrick, Pastor of St. Joseph’s was appointed as the first Chaplain.

The council was named for a Catholic priest who used to come to the Orion area during the 1920’s to say mass.  Fr. Thomas R. Carey was a Canadian who moved to the United States and was naturalized in 1902.  He was ordained to the Priesthood in 1908.  The first masses in this area were said in one of the buildings owned by the Unger family and in later years the old St. Thomas Hall was used.

It was in this building that our council first setup headquarters.  In September 1961 the group moved to Oxford, using the VFW hall.  In July of 1962, a lease was granted for use of the rear of the Groves Building, which in those days was known as Stan’s Grille.  Rental was $125.00 a month, and this became the first meeting place officially known as the Knights of Columbus Hall.

As time passed, many memorable parties and dances were held here.  Most memorable for some of our charter members still around was the very first council picnic, held on Sunday, August 16, 1959.  It was held at the Barledge farm on Lakeville Road.  A downpour ensued and the members spent part of the afternoon pushing cars out of the mire.  Somehow they managed to make a day out of it.  One person in particular sat in his new convertible, top down and umbrella up, calmly eating an ice cream bar.

Suddenly it was 1964 and our fifth Grand Knight was in office… Where did all the time fly.  Word was out that a Lake Orion group was planning to sell a building on Orion Road.  The matter was investigated and it was decided to “make an offer”.  On September 15, 1964, the members of Fr. Thomas R. Carey Council purchased the current site from the now-defunct Lake Orion Community Center Association for the sum of $8500.

Members dipped into their pockets, savings accounts and in one case, borrowing on a life insurance policy to come up with the cash, but they did it… Ten men came up with $2500 each, and enough cash was raised not only to purchase the site, but to start a new addition.  Subsequently the Oxford Bank granted a mortgage to cover the original investments and in the summer of 1965 the new addition was started.  A riggers and erectors strike slowed things up a bit but by early fall, the hall was completed.  The first rental occurred on September 10, 1965 to the date the site was purchased.

Teen dances became popular, and every Friday night a Disc Jockey from Flint Radio Station WTAC hosted these functions.  Other things became popular as well.  With a new hall, rentals aided the financial coffers and New Years Eve dances, Halloween parties and Anniversary parties became the mainstay.

Then bad news came from the Supreme Office that we were being suspended!  We had failed to properly collect insurance premiums from our members and we were several thousands of dollars in debt!  What to do?  Methods of collecting were reorganized and special efforts to raise needed funds became the order of the day.  Christmas tree sales, dinners, raffles, you name it… They did it…

Somehow the problem was overcome, and it was “back to normal”.  Carnivals were popular, so why not have one?  Remember the first one?  The lights went out on the midway on a Friday night right in the middle of the evening… What a mess!!! (Say whatever happened to my Crosley?  I thought I left it in the parking lot!)  How about the “featherless parties” that the Mersino brothers used to put on?  We had bingo long before it was legal, but somehow we never got caught!

Time marched on and now we were into the 1970’s, still alive and still struggling.  Bingo became legal and we jumped in for two a week.  Now we had some money and couldn’t wait to spend it on much needed repairs.  The first thing was to get rid of those awful drapes we had hanging all over the walls.  (Remember the bad acoustics?) A suspended ceiling was installed and we also put in a new security system.  We had to!!! Our crime coverage was cancelled because of all the break-ins.  We blocked in all the windows and they came in through the roof!

We were now in the term of our tenth Grand Knight and celebrating our fifteenth anniversary!  Bavarian festivals took over where the carnivals left off.  Our ladies auxiliary was formed in October of 1975 and the council took on a new meaning.  Family oriented functions became popular, and fourth Tuesday meetings gave way to ladies social night dinners.  We went back to the bank and borrowed enough money to blacktop our parking lot and revise our drainage system.  We were getting bigger.  Membership and hall rentals increased.

Throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s, improvements continued.  Remodeling of the interior followed…  New carpeting, air conditioning… paneling and finally a Clubroom was started.  In the fall of 1983 we started another addition to the hall.  This time it would be new bathrooms and a new kitchen.  By New Year’s Eve we were ready… Somehow our members came through with monetary help as well as physical.  Plans to equip the new kitchen were in the future.  Not satisfied with what we had, we started on the front of the building in the spring.  Council members Walter Gallinat, Art Hugo, Bob Green and Jerry Whitby were among the members that served on the design team leading a mostly amateur construction crew on the hall additions.

A new central entry into the hall was constructed with a new store room, cloakroom and members entrance into the clubroom from the outside of the building were completed.  Grand Knight J. Steffan led efforts to remodel the clubroom with a new bar and equipment with help from D. Brugioni & L. Elzerman and other members.

The original council clubroom was put together by a crew of volunteers headed by Bill Fenwick and Steve and Jim Treadway.  These gentlemen did hard labor removing the old concrete ramp from down downstairs to upper hall in the clubroom area.

We celebrated our 25th Anniversary. Looking back we could say we came a long way.  We were not done yet by any means and still had a long way to go.

We remained proud of our council and of our achievements.  Our record books were and are full of documented proof that we’ve done a good job in the community, church, youth movement as well as being a successful club.  Our annual participation in the tootsie roll sales for the mentally handicapped citizens of our state has helped bring thousands of dollars for them which would not have been available other wise.  Our anti-abortion stand is nationwide.  The many Star Council and other awards, which adorn our council walls a testimony of our success.

During the 1980’s our council needed money for operating expenses and repairs on the building so a committee lead by Dick Fritz, Lou Yezbick & Don Milosch started the St. Patrick’s Day $10,000 Raffle that has provided funds as well as a good party.  March 2008 St Patricks Raffle was the 24th edition in this continuing series.

Many members such as Bob Stoner, Ron Deachin, Steve Treadway & Ron Hines developed a list of regular ticket buyers over the years.  Loyal members such as Skalnek Ford and Milosch Chrysler/ Plymouth have sold tickets from their business to help our council.

Also the 1980’s saw the establishment of our K of C Council Golf League by many of the members that had played in the St. Josephs Catholic Church Usher’s Golf League.

Ed May was the 1st League Secretary during the startup at Paint Creek Golf Course with Larry Elzerman taking over for a while as the league moved to Oxford, Hills.  Larry Elzerman, Joe Csokas, Ron Deachin and most recently Robert Deachin have served the members as League Secretary.  Over the years Golf Fun Days have been played at Mulberry Golf Course & Heather Hills giving a sampling of local scenery and teaching the members & players many finer arts of the golf game.

The 1990’s saw the start of the May Crowning and Living Rosary when District Deputy Larry Elzerman and GK Ron Hines talked the Dominican Sisters on West Drahner Road in Oxford, Township into letting the Knights of Columbus use their grounds.  The Sisters let the K of C salvage several outdoor speakers from their grounds to use for playing music and leading the Rosary.   The May Crowning moved for several years to the Benedictine Monastery on East Drahner Road.  Father Mike Green and the Brothers with several K of C members spent many hours preparing the back yard of the monastery for the ceremonies.  More recently the May Crowning and Living Rosary has been held at the Columbiere Center and Everest Academy in Clarkston, Michigan with the Fourth Degree Color Corp helping for all these years.

A Christmas work bee to paint the upper hall ceiling grid and tile was a shocking situation for Lee Uhl, Dick Brugioni and Ken Simpson, when live wires contacted the metal grid.  Everyone survived and our hall looked nice for several years until we replaced all the original light fixtures and installed new ceiling tiles.  Bingo was running two times a week and provided money enough with the rentals to invest time and capital in improvements.

During GK Paul Farr’s 1st year in office the Carey Colleens Ladies Auxiliary purchased a gazebo kit and a Statue of Mary for the council grounds on Orion Road.

A crew consisting of Paul Mahoney, Larry Elzerman, Scott Alexander and Jim Steffan put together the kit.  The Lake Orion K of C Council purchased a Monument Stone for the Unborn which was placed adjacent to the gazebo for our Lady.  A ceremony was held with Fr. Mike Green to dedicate this shrine.

Hall renters have utilized the gazebo for prayer and pictures.  People have been known to pull in from Orion Road parking by the gazebo containing the Statue of Mary while saying a short prayer.

The Benedictine Monastery Raffle held each October celebrated 10 years of fund raising started by Larry Elzerman to help our friends at the Benedictine Monastery and Retreat Center located in the hills east of Oxford.  The Monastery is also home to our chaplain, Father Mike Green with the Monk Press where our newsletter has been printed for many years.

Father Mike has pursued his ham radio hobby for years utilizing radio equipment that the council purchased in thanks for his countless years of service and spiritual guidance.  Larry assumed semi-retirement on this project with Jim Leach now seeking door prizes and donations from the community.  This worthwhile project has provided nearly $150,000 to the Monastery.

The annual Tootsie Roll Drive for the Mentally Retarded is now called the Mentally Impaired Drive showing more sensitivity for the mentally handicapped.

Eighty percent of the funds raised over the years has stayed in our community and is given to Special Olympics, Nova, Scamp, St. Louis Center and other organizations serving the handicapped.  The funds have been more needed than ever as government programs are reduced.  Council members and friends working on the drive have been well fed by the Carey Colleens, our ladies auxiliary with soups and dinners under the leadership of Gloria Mahoney and others.

Bingo has played a major role over the years providing funds for our charities and operation of the K of C Hall.

Ron Deachin and Steve Treadway co-chaired the Thursday Night Bingo for years with Steve continuing to coordinate and run the show.  Mary Treadway has helped process the rip-off tickets and other vital paperwork.

Dick Brugioni, Ken Norris and Ken Simpson were instrumental in starting the sale of charity rip-off tickets with both Kens still hustling to sell them.

Seems like only a couple years ago that Ed Korysincki was selling admission tickets and Jerry Whitby & Lou Brockman and Bob Green were placing side bets on which side of the hall the next bingo would occur.

Tuesday Morning Bingo was chaired for several years by Gloria Mahoney helped by Pat Stoner & Mary Treadway with the Carey Colleens and K of C retired members providing most of the workers.

Jim Leach stepped forward to chair this project that is an important part of providing fund to the council for charities and general expenses.

In the 2000’s, Steve Treadway stepped down from the Financial Secretary job after more than 25 years service following in the steps of John Kuzara and Bill Baker.

Father Michael Green may just be the longest serving Council Chaplain in the state of Michigan by filling this important position for almost 40 years.  Fr. Mike finishes our Council family dinner night prayer with his famous saying “bon appetite.”  He is almost as famous for an appetite for the Pecan Ice cream/Nut Ball desert at the Grand Hotel at our state K of C Convention.

Our council on the Family Dinner Nights has been served great meals prepared by super kitchen crews starting with Art Hugo and Bob Baker, Art Hugo and Larry Elzerman and most recently by Andy Martin and Bridget Giampa.

Sister Marian Harvey is a special friend to the council often leading the Rosary Service at times when Father Mike is not able to attend.  Every year the council has been able to start out the Sister Marians sale of chances in the IHM fundraiser as well as helping her be the champion ticket seller for her order.

The Lake Orion K of C Council keeps working on projects until we get them right as happened several years ago while barbequing a whole pig for the family picnic.

The pig somehow became over cooked by the crew of Ron Hines, Dave Hunter, Ed Bauroth and Jim Treadway that started cooking in the early morning hours.

The second shift volunteers stocked up the charcoal fire and retired to their cars for a much needed rest.  The pork dinner became the “pig from hell” but still provided a good meal thanks to a salvage job by Larry Elzerman and Paul Farr.

Scott Alexander took a well deserve nap on the stage after assisting with the roast.

A pig roast the following years was successfully completed using a gas fired grill which provided better process control.

Grand Knight, Carl Kipp & John Szott got the council into the electronic age linked to the State K of C website.

Photos of all the council officers as well as a photo album of various council projects are posted on Council #4764 website.

Several prospective members have found the council via the website.

The web master that we have been paying for several years has established a new website that will be easier to use for posting information & candid photographs from projects and charitable activities.

Our Council #4764 have raised and donated over a$1,000,000 plus to the various local and state “Charitable Organizations.”

Examples include SEPTA, Love INC, Fish, Special Olympics, NOVA, Sacred Heart Seminary, Dominican Sisters, Benedictine Monastery, Guest House, Holy Cross Children’s Services, Cub Packs & Boy Scouts, St. Vincent de Paul, Senior Citizen Center, Lake Orion Schools, Problem Pregnancy Center, Pro Life etc.

Now after fifty years, we are not done yet… We’ve just begun…