Bill Byrne is serving his second one-year term as the grand knight of the Knights of Columbus council at St. Peter’s.
Byrne was re-elected in May. The installation ceremony was in June although the actual officer term began July 1 and will run through June 30, 2014.
“It’s a good council. We have a very active membership,” Byrne said. “We try to serve others and try to follow the good Lord as close as we can.”
Council 7069, the St. Peter’s council, has approximately 210 members. “Any money we make we give away,” Byrne said. “It stays local.”
The Knights of Columbus organization was founded in 1882 by Connecticut priest Father Michael McGivney. Its primary purpose was to aid widows and orphans when the primary income earner passed away, although it also fought against anti-Catholic activity.
The Knights of Columbus annual Tootsie Roll sales program raises money for the developmentally disabled. Last year Council 7069 donated approximately $900 to the REINS therapeutic riding program and more than $500 to Jeremiah’s Ranch. “That was how much we raised,” Byrne said.
The Knights of Columbus also helped the Women’s Resource Center raise more than $50,000 for a fetal ultrasound machine. The money was raised over a multi-year period and Zion Lutheran Church hosted annual fundraisers in which organizations representing numerous religious denominations were involved.
The major fundraiser for the St. Peter’s council is its St. Patrick’s Day dinner each March. The council also supports youth sports programs and has an annual essay contest for children.
Byrne was raised in Holt, Mich., and was in the United States Marine Corps before retiring in 1991. Byrne and his wife, Sue, initially bought a home in Fallbrook in the late 1970s and settled in Fallbrook after his retirement.
Byrne joined the Father O’Byrne council in Jacksonville, N.C., in the 1980s. He transferred to the St. Peter’s council after moving to Fallbrook. In 2011, Byrne first became an officer of the St. Peter’s council, spending a year as the deputy grand knight before ascending to grand knight last year. Byrne is a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus.
“It’s a good Catholic organization, Christian organization,” Byrne said.
Bill and Sue Byrne have been married for 47 years. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.