Joe and Sandy Simon and their family enjoy camping, fishing, taking hunting trips and going to church — together.

Even when they’re not together, many members of the Simon family remain united in their common devotion to the Knights of Columbus councils in their communities. Last month, the Lonsdale council recognized Joe Simon and his clan as the Lonsdale Knights of Columbus Family of the Year.

“There’s so many people that do so much [for the KCs], said Joe. “I guess I felt humbled, not expecting it at all, surprised. There’s a lot of people that could get awards like that, but I was still very happy to get it.”

Joe, who has lived in the same house in Lonsdale since he was a baby, joined the Montgomery Knights of Columbus as an 18-year-old. During the years when he and Sandy raised their five children, Joe shifted his focus to supporting their church and school. This was long before the Lonsdale council formed just four years ago.

“When the opportunity rose to have a council in Lonsdale, I felt like I had more time to put into it again,” said Joe.

Joe originally served as deputy grand knight, the second in command position, and advanced to grand knight for the past two years. Josh Rickert took over as grand knight July 1, and Joe is now considered a trustee.

Joe’s oldest son, Paul, currently serves as treasurer of the Lonsdale KCs. Next in line is Andy, another KC member who lives in New Prague. Joe’s youngest son, Nicholas, is an officer on the Montgomery KC council. His two daughters, Lynn and Melissa, have helped out with the KCs when they can, and Lynn’s husband, Jeremy Schroeder, belongs to another KC council in Minnesota.

Joe said Sandy helps a lot with printing off tickets for raffles and events, preparing breakfasts, making phone calls and sending emails. When Joe was a grand knight especially, he said he always relied on Sandy for help and support.

For the past three years, Joe has helped the Lonsdale KCs sell tickets to raffle off a four-wheeler at the Church of the Immaculate Conception festivals. He’s helped with the Lonsdale council’s March fish fry and annual pancake breakfasts to raise funds for specific individuals in need. For its largest fundraiser in the past four years, the Lonsdale KCs built a house with the Elko New Market council and sold it. Between the two groups, Joe said $100,000 was raised to help Holy Cross School pay off part of its building debt.

“They do much good,” said Joe of the KCs. “There’s organizations, there’s councils in I think probably every country, and they do a lot of great things all over the world.”

Grand Knight Josh Rickert issued the Knights of Columbus Family of the Year as well as the Servant of the Year award for the first time this summer. He believes Joe and Servant of the Year recipient Dave Stepka have both exemplified what service leadership means.

Stepka previously served as the council’s financial secretary and, according to Rickert, “set the bar for other men to step up.” Now, Stepka is the council’s warden.

“They don’t do what they do for recognition whatsoever,” said Rickert. “[But] I think it’s important we recognize those individuals who go above and beyond … they’ve done so much for us and I appreciate their example to all our other members.”

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

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