Through the past, proudly
The History of Westbury Council
(Portions of this history were transcribed from the 1955 Golden Jubilee Journal
on the occasion of Westbury Council's 50th Anniversary)
On June 25, 1905, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus granted its 1,012th charter to a group of sixteen Catholic men in Westbury, and Westbury Council No. 1012 was born. The traditional celebratory day to honor Christopher Columbus is October 12. The 16 men who comprised its original members were stable managers, coachmen, harness makers and grooms, as befits Westbury of 1905, just as its present membership consists of mechanics, plumbers, engineers, salesmen, civil service workers, businessmen, and commuters.
Jeremiah J. Hurley was the first Grand Knight, and by the time he had completed seven terms in that capacity, his leadership and efforts had increased the ranks of the Council to one hundred thirty-five members, including three of the clergy. In this number was Mr. Henry Walters who took his first degree in 1915, and as of 2001 was the last living honorary member.
World War I came and the council lost Cpl. James F. Walsh, the first member to give his life in service to our country. The Westbury Council stayed and flourished. By the middle of the "roaring twenties" it was one of the leading organizations in the community. Though 1929 is not generally remembered as a good year, but for the council it marked the opening of the Council's own clubhouse in July of that year. Opening ceremonies were held under the direction of then Grand Knight Joseph J. Clinton and a plaque was presented by Westbury Post 101, American Legion.
This building on Maple Avenue was a suitable and useful one in Westbury and served, among other things, as a home for an organization of the Catholic Daughters of America. It was under that roof that the Council celebrated its Silver Jubilee with a dinner and dance in June, 1930. The depression, however, finally took its toll and in 1937, as a result of financial difficulties, the Council was compelled to surrender the clubhouse. Today it is the home of the Ave Maria Chapel.
Far from marking the end of the K. of C. in Westbury, this unfortunate set-back is now regarded only as a turning point. A new era of rebuilding commenced, and the members of No. 1012 were meeting in increased numbers in the old parish hall of St. Brigid's. Beautiful knotty pine chambers were constructed by the members of the Council, and the bowling alleys still in existence in that building were provided to the parish.
World War II came suddenly and brought the activities of Westbury Council to a halt. However, with the end of the war period new horizons appeared, both for the community and for the K of C. An influx of new residents has brought membership to an all-time high of over three hundred. In 1946, the Rev. Locksley Appo Squires Circle No. 489 was formed, providing our Council with young new members. During these years Westbury Council used the facilities of St Brigid's Parish Hall as its home. As a result of overcrowding in the small Parish School in 1950 the Council relinquished its quarters in favor of providing additional classroom space for the Parish School. This saw Westbury Council move to the Maria S.S. Dell’ Assunta Society Hall. In 1955, Westbury Council moved to the Carle Place American Legion Hall. It continued to meet there until September 12, 1957. At that time, arrangements were made to hold meetings in the basement of the St. Brigid’s/Carle Place Chapel, known today as Our Lady of Hope Parish.
During the 1956 Council year, our Sister organization - the Columbiettes - was formed. Margaret Sullivan was elected its first president. Supporting the works of the Knights, as well as their own charitable causes, the Columbiettes sponsored card parties, Christmas Boutiques; as they supported with volunteerism the AHRC. These dedicated ladies annually brought Easter Baskets to St. Joseph Adult Home in Huntington. For many years, led by Lucy Rex, the Columbiettes aided in programs for the blind, particularly in making books in Braille for the blind. The Westbury Columbiettes exist today as an auxiliary unit in Barefoot Bay, Florida where a number of Knights and Columbiettes currently reside. Ann Lamb Herron, the Columbiettes second president is still active. Westbury Council can, up to the present day, measure its success in Columbian endeavors because of the great effort of its Columbiettes.
Nineteen fifty-five also saw Westbury Council celebrate its Golden Jubilee in our Order. In 1959, the Council initiated a great movement for sound fiscal policies. During this time, the members of the Westbury Council sought to establish a permanent home. The Christopher Columbus Corporation purchased the Wheatly Hills National Bank on Post Ave. in 1961. The Rev. James G. Smith who served as our Worthy Chaplain for more than eleven years and along with the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Thomas F. Code, Pastor of St. Brigid’s Church, presided and blessed the new home of Westbury Council 1012. A mural depicting the voyage of Christopher Columbus was painted by Saverio Scilla, PGK on the wall that housed the bank vault. This new home of the Council was situated in the heart of the Village of Westbury. In 1962, we were truly blessed with the addition to our membership of His Excellency, the Most Reverend William Francis Kupfer, MM DD Bishop of Taichiang, Taiwan. The Knights held a reception for his Excellency Bishop in the year 1962, which is one of the Councils’ most cherished moments.
This building facilitated family Friday night Bingo, Blood Drives, fundraising events, dances as well as a meeting place for the chapter. The council actively assisted visiting Missionary priests at St. Brigid’s by sponsoring dances and socials to raise funds for the foreign missions. Among the visiting Missionary priests were Holy Ghost Fathers Fr. Malone and Fr. Murphy . The Council had a good contingent of 4th degree Knights as well as members of the Color Corps. Frank Lamb PGK served as the First Faithful Navigator.
During this time the Knights continued to support the parish of St. Brigid’s. With the enrollment at the school increasing the Knights assisted the parish in fundraising efforts to build the current school. Knights would volunteer their time on Sunday mornings by driving to Parishes in Nassau and Suffolk County to sell chances that were used to raise money to build the school. The Knights continued to run dances for the youth in the parish; they assisted with clothing drives and also assisted Fr. Ellard at mass in the County Jail. The Knights once again served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Many members were active in planning the Parish of St. Brigid’s 125th Anniversary in 1980.
In March 1981, the Westbury Council Columbiettes celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a dinner at the Joseph Lamb Council.
Unfortunately with the upward tax burden the building was sold in the early 1980’s and currently is the home of the Republican Club. The council moved to the American Legion Hall and then St. Andrew The Apostle Byzantine Catholic Church on Ellison Ave where they remained until 1995. At that time, the council moved their meetings to the St. Brigid’s School library and finally in 1996 finally moved to it’s present location in Our Lady of Hope Hall in Carle Place.
During the 1990’s the council experienced a resurgence of members with events such as “Knight at the Races”, Italian night, St. Patrick’s, and Turkey after Taxes dinners, and Breakfast with Santa. These events have been sponsored to support the many charitable works of the Knights as well as providing events for families. The Knights have established scholarships for St. Brigid’s/Our Lady of Hope School students who choose to continue their education in Catholic High Schools. The members of the Knights of Columbus serve a vital role in collecting food for St. Brigid’s and Our Lady of Hope Outreach programs. These programs feed families in the Westbury, New Castle, Carle Place and surrounding communities. The Knights assist St. Brigid’s/Our Lady of Hope School with Friday night Bingo. Our Lady of Hope and St. Brigid’s Parish both count on the Knights to assist with holiday decorating. The Council has continuously dedicated itself to prayer, for peace, the end of nuclear proliferation, soldiers missing and killed during the many wars over the years, and the unborn. Most recently the council has made a donation to assist in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts down South.
Thanks to an excellent Membership Committee, devoted brothers and Insurance Agent Westbury Council was able to receive the “Star Council” Award during fraternal years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001.
The Westbury Council 1012 has continued the tradition of charitable works for the community, supported Catholic education, the education of seminarians and has always supported family values. The Council has received the “Star Council” Award on numerous occasions most recently in the years 1999-2000 and 2000-2001. The Knights have served their country in times of war and peace. These men are active members in Our Lady of Hope and Saint Brigid’s parishes, serving as Eucharistic Ministers, ushers, lectors and volunteers in many of the parishes’organizations and ministries. Currently the council has a core group of men, some of whom have been with the council for as little as 1 year and some with over 50 years of service. We are proud of our past accomplishments which includes having installed as its last two Grand Knights its first Haitian American and our current Grand Knight, a Catholic convert. In the spirit of Father Michael J. McGivney, the Council continues what was begun over 100 years ago looking back with pride and gratitude. The Council looks forward with prayerful hope that their efforts to promote Catholicism, Columbianism along with family values will be blessed with continued success.