What were you doing in 1917? Most of us will answer, “Nothing I was not yet born!
Recently our Council decided that in addition to our recruiting efforts to reach out to new prospective Knights, our Financial Secretary, Rick Ratterman, and Member Retention Chair, Tom Bennett would again make an extra effort to contact those brothers that we have lost track of over the years. As we looked at our membership roster, we thought we had found a mistake when we noted that one of our Honorary Life Members had a birth date of 3/22/1917 – surely this Knight could no longer be with us in this life since he would now be 104 years old. We were wrong. He is alive and perky and has been a Knight for 55 years and he is also the oldest living member of our Council and one of the oldest living Knights in Kentucky.
I talked with the daughter of Herman W. Steilberg and asked her a few questions. Herman has a bit of a hearing problem and thus phone conversations can be challenging, so I asked his daughter, Diana Reuther, some questions to relay to him. Our “interview” covered the following questions:
- Do you remember when you first became a Knight? Yes, it was in 1966.
- Why did you become a Knight 55 years ago? My long-time friend Tony Heichelbach was a Knight and he encouraged me to join and he sponsored me. At the time I was a busy father and the club on River Road had a swimming pool for the kids, so I joined for the benefit of having special times with friends and family.
- Since you have been a Knight for 55 years, do you remember anything about your exemplification initiation into Knighthood? I remember that it took place at the River Road Club on a Sunday Afternoon. There were about twelve candidates who were blindfolded and we were asked several questions about our Catholic Faith.
- Where did your Council meetings take place? At the River Road location where it is located to this day. My daughter’s wedding reception in 1967 was also held at our club.
- Do you have any special memories from the past that happened because you are a Knight? I especially remember all the good times we had with my Knight brothers and their wives at the K of C Sunday dinners.
Life is full of surprises, some pleasant and other challenging. What a delight for us to “re- discover” Herman. His memory is phenomenal and we are all blessed that he is still among us as a loyal and valued member of the Knights of Columbus.
Council 2761, Louisville, KY