Hyde Park Council 6111
Knights of Columbus
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HISTORY - HYDE PARK COUNCIL 6111 Knights of Columbus
The Hyde Park Council was chartered on September 28, 1968. The Charter Members of the Council were parishioners of Regina Coeli and St. Peter's Parishes in Hyde Park. In addition, members of Florentine Council in Poughkeepsie and Ecumenical Council in Rhinebeck transferred into the Council.
Formation of Hyde Park Council started in early 1968 under the guidance of District Deputy Jim Kelly of Ecumenical Council in Rhinebeck and with the assistance of membership director William VanTassel of Beacon Council. Bill eventually became New York State Deputy, Supreme Director and Supreme Treasurer at Knights of Columbus Headquarters in New Haven CT. He always maintained close ties with the Council. Members of the Council were invited to Supreme Council Headquarters in New Haven by Bill, who was the Supreme Treasurer, June 12, 1981. They had lunch with and met with Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant
Organizational meetings were held at the Kitchen restaurant (presently Coppola’s) in Hyde Park, hosted by owner Gene Hefferon, a member of the Knights of Columbus and at Supple’s Funeral Home across from Regina Coeli Church. Supple donated the bar at which these original meetings were held to the Council and severed for many years as the bar in the Council home.
These meeting led to formation of the Council with 98 Charter Members on September 28, 1968. There were three priest included as Charter Members: Rev. W. O’Halloran, Rev. Daniel O’Hare (called the junkie priest for his work with drug addicts) and Rev. M. Prefontaine (Rector of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers Seminary in Hyde Park). Mario Conforti was the Charter Grand Knight.
Council meetings were held at Eymard Seminary in Hyde Park which was located at the end of Mansion Drive in the town. This seminary was the home of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers who provided, free of charge, the use of a small building consisting of two long and narrow rooms for meetings (like railroad cars). One side was a two lane bowling alley and the other a meeting room with a small kitchen and a pool table. This building was no doubt used by the US Army detachment based there during the Second World War to protect the home of President Roosevelt which was located nearby. A swimming pool made from a ship’s hull was also installed.
During this time the Council and the seminary were closely related with many Council events held on seminary grounds. Chicken barbeques and family picnics’ were held with the swimming pool at our disposal. The annual Hyde Park Fourth of July parade ended at the seminary and the whole town enjoyed the facilities. Soft ball games, Communion breakfasts and the children’s Halloween & Christmas parties were held there.
There also were some special occasions; a Banjo Band Evening and several sports nights where a good prime rib dinner, cooked by the members, was served in the seminary dining hall (which provided a break for the nuns that usually cooked) and sport films were shown. On one occasion when films of heavy weight fights were shown, Heavy Weight Champion Floyd Patterson was the honored guest.
The Masonic Temple in Poughkeepsie was invited to a night of fellowship at the seminary and the Council attended an evening at the Lodge. Also during this time, the Council was active in a dart ball baseball league, playing against some local firehouses and churches.
The Council hosted a Knights of Columbus Third Degree in the gym at Regina Coeli School and conducted an installation of Council officers at Regina Coeli Church. One year when the Special Olympics were held locally, the Council built various aids for the games including a special basketball net and carts.
The major money raising activity during this time was Bingo. Started by PGK Frank Lospitalier, it was held Sunday night in the Regina Coeli Gym. Pastor Monsignor Hicks gave the Knights permission to do this and the Knights donated ½ of the proceeds to Regina Coeli Parish. The bingo kitchen receipts provided the funds to have an annual workers appreciation night. The Council proceeds contributed to the Council building fund. Through the years many workers and chairman participated in this effort
The next major activity of the Council was to expand our meeting facilities. The Fathers at Eymard generously offered the Council 4 acres of land ($1000/acre) at the foot of the seminary grounds facing the Hudson River on River Road. The people living in the area were not happy with the prospect of a building close by and the Council decided to look elsewhere. Considered were: Sammarco’s Restaurant on South Cross Road which was deemed too remote, The Chapel Corners Grange on Violet Avenue, which was too close to St. Peters School and Vil Anns Restaurant on Rt. 9G which didn’t have sufficient parking. Eventually the property on Route 9G, with a concrete block building shell (40’x20’) was available and the Council purchased it in 1975. In 1984, work was started on the addition to the existing building.
Through the efforts of many dedicated Brothers, especially PGK Bernie Ouimet and Chairman Bobby Moran, the addition was completed in September of 1986. The Council Chambers were dedicated in May 1987 with a Mass celebrated by Chaplain Rev. Peter Vianny. This was attended by dignitaries from the Hudson Valley, the New York State Council, as well as New York State, Dutchess County, and Town of Hyde Park elected officials.
The unique glass stained window, representing the Knights - based on the virtues of Christopher Columbus - supporting Church and Country, was donated by Marie Maher mother of Joe Maher, our second Grand Knight, in memory of her husband Joseph Maher.
We celebrated our Twentieth Anniversary in the new Council Hall on September 24, 1988, our Twenty fifth in September, 1993, our 30th on October 24, 1998 and our Fortieth September 28, 2008.
Since its Charter in 1968, the Hyde Park Council has been fortunate in having dedicated men, whose leadership has enabled the Council to carry out the Principles of Columbianism. Some of the annual community programs that were instituted in the early years of the Council's existence are still in existence today. Marching in the annual Hyde Park Fourth of July parade, providing a Thanksgiving Dinner for the senior citizens of Hyde Park, and providing the Christmas scene at the Town Hall are a few of these programs. We make donations to our parishes and their schools. We provide graduation awards for Regina Coeli School, St. Peters School and Roosevelt High School. At the Council’s last meeting in June, the Chaplin offers Mass for our deceased members. Widows are invited.
The Knights respond to many needs both local and nationwide. We participated in creating the 9/11 Paul Tegtmeier Memorial in Hyde Park and contributed to the Supreme Councils Heroes fund for deceased 9/11 first responders. Donations to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC were made through our Fourth Degree. Donations are made to the NYS Special Olympics.
In addition we provide the use of our hall to local and governmental groups as good community citizens. Hyde Park Recreation senior citizens, Cub Scouts, and the RT.9G Beautification Committee have meet at our hall.
Some recent activities: With the help of the New York State Council, was able to donate $15,000 to Regina Coeli School. Pledged $500 a year for 3 years to Regina Coeli and St Peters Schools, sponsored blood drives, sponsor a little league and a soccer team, gave awards at the high school and both of our schools, sponsored a free throw contest, as well as the soccer challenge with the support of the Hyde Park soccer league, staffed the kitchen at the Regina Coeli Christmas craft fair, help staff the Regina Coeli food booth at the Dutchess County Fair. Brothers are with the Religious Ed program, and several of our brothers help staff the Coeli fest, we distributed Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to people in need. Also: Super Bowl Party, St. Patrick’s Day Party, SPCA fund raiser, Italian Nights, Lent Fish Fry, Winter golf classic, Illusionist show, Pancake Breakfasts, the Regina Coeli School renewal dinner/dance.
. The members of the Hyde Park Council thank almighty God for the past success the Council has enjoyed. We ask our Founder Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney through his intercession with almighty God, to bless all future activities of this Council so that the Council may continue to serve God, Country, and our Community for many years to come.