Origins of the Sacred Heart of Southport Council
Prior to 1985, the Knights of Columbus had no Council presence in all of Brunswick County. The closest council was St Mary’s, in Wilmington - which is New Hanover County. St Mary’s, it is believed, was established right after WWI.
In the mid or late 1970’s, St Mary’s Grand Knight, John Organ, formed a sub-council in the Southport area. Membership was less than ten but it never really grew and was dissolved after a year or two.
In 1985 a group of men in the area met and discussed the formation of a Knights of Columbus Council. Soon after that Our Lady of The Rosary Council #9039 was formed with thirty-five charter members, becoming the first council in Brunswick County. Its charter was dated June 21, 1985.
The Charter Grand Knight was Roger W. (Red) Fuller and the Financial Secretary was John Angermayer. The Charter Chaplain was Rev. John Richardson. Red Fuller served two terms and was succeeded by Steve Williams and then John Angermayer. Steve and John later transferred to Sacred Heart Council and live in Southport. Other notable members of Our Lady of the Rosary were the Most Rev. George E. Lynch - who led many demonstrations in support of Right to Life issues - and The Honorable Michael Easley who was governor of North Carolina from 2000-2008. Of the thirty-five charter members, approximately twelve were from the Southport area, with the remainder closer to Shallotte.
Initial meetings were held at the old BEMC (Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation) building in Shallotte. Later, to accommodate members living in the Southport area, Bolivia and Boiling Spring Lakes, meetings were moved up to Brunswick Community College in a trailer occupied by the Brunswick Interagency Group.
Travel again became an issue and in 1990 or 1991, since the majority of members were from St. Brendan’s, which was benefiting from the growth of the North Myrtle Beach area, the Council moved from BCC to its’ permanent home at St. Brendan’s in Shallotte. In 2005 their membership stood at one hundred and eleven.
For many years, with the exception of the LAMB program from the Shallotte Council, the Knights of Columbus had no visibility in the Southport area. This changed, however, when in June, 1997 Fr. Doug Lawson became Pastor of Sacred Heart. At that time there were approximately four hundred and fifty registered families. Aware that the Knights of Columbus, the largest organization of Catholic men in the world, plays a leading role in service to the Parish, Pastor and Community and knowing that someday he would need a new deck on his retirement home he was anxious to start a Council. Fr. Doug worked closely with the North Carolina KOC State Chaplain to make this a reality. Coincidently, the State Chaplain was Fr. Bob Lawson, Fr. Doug's older brother.
In the summer of 1999, State Chaplain Fr. Bob Lawson brought his team to Sacred Heart hoping to find the thirty men needed to start a new council. He spoke eloquently about the Knights at all the Masses and urged all the men interested in joining to come to a meeting that Sunday evening. Among his team were State Deputy-Bob Springer, State Treasurer-Dave Onofrio, Insurance Field Agent-Jim Crowe and District Deputy-Tony Santino.
The team went through their presentation and informed the parish what was involved in starting a council. Approximately fifty men came to that meeting. Some were Knights members of other councils, like Shallotte, but most were not. There was no doubt that there were enough interested men to start the council.
Pending receipt of the Council charter, the interim officers assuming responsibilities were Don Meyer - Grand Knight, John Astoske - Deputy Grand Knight, and John Maher - Financial Secretary.
On August 4, 1999 Don held his first organizational meeting at which it was decided on the new Council’s name - Sacred Heart of Southport. It was necessary to say “of Southport” because at the north end of Route 211, in Pinehurst, there is another Sacred Heart Church and Sacred Heart Council.
On August 8, 1999, in the old Church’s Social Hall, twenty-four candidates took their First Degree. It was at that time the largest First Degree the St. Mary’s team ever exemplified. Augmented by thirty-nine transferees, the Sacred Heart of Southport Council began with sixty-three charter members when the Charter was received on August 25, 1999.
Don Meyer was elected the Charter Grand Knight. The other officers were Deputy Grand Knight - John Astoske; Financial Secretary - John Maher; Chancellor - Jack O’Neil; Warden - John Long; Advocate - Bob Kleid; Recorder - Richard Hunt; Treasurer - Bill Malvey; Inside Guard - Calvin Hicks; Outside Guard - Paul Toland; Trustees - Henry Hall, Paul Latzy and Duane Stuker; and Chaplain - Fr. Doug Lawson..
The Program Directors were Membership - Bob DiCianni; Lecturer - John Reiners; Church - Gene Martin; Council - John Sullivan; Community - Angelo Gibilaro; Family - Tom Gniazdowski; Youth - Jerry Pierce.
And so it began. Today our Council has more than 200 members serving the Catholic Church and the Sacred Heart Parish community.