by Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven
LANSING — Reaching the 65-year mark in anything is no small feat.
But logging 65 years of continuous service and dedication to one organization is even rarer.
Lansing native Robert Martz is marking 65 years with the Knights of Columbus. In his honor, the St. Francis de Sales Knights of Columbus Lansing Council 10834 held a special rosary, Mass and reception May 6 at St. Francis de Sales Church to celebrate.
“His 65 years as a Knight is more than just having a membership card. Robert was and is an active member of the Knights,” said Father Bill McEvoy, St. Francis de Sales pastor. “For the Knights to keep track of Robert’s years and to honor him shows the high esteem he is held in by his brothers.”
Mike Keohane, Council 10834 member and a fourth-degree Knight, compared Martz to other long-serving members.
“I don’t know of anybody else that’s still alive that has 65 years of service,” Keohane said. “That’s amazing to me.”
The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal organization for Catholic men first established by Father Michael McGivney in 1882, according to the official Knights of Columbus website. There are currently more than 15,000 established councils and more than 1.9 million members.
Martz joined the Leavenworth Knights of Columbus Council 900 in 1953 at the tender age of 22 where he served his first 41 years before transitioning to the Lansing Council in 1994 after it was established in May of 1992.
Through the years, Martz has been a part of the Leavenworth Veterans Day Parade, the St. Patrick’s Day parade and different charitable fundraisers throughout the community.
But it’s the fraternal aspect that Martz enjoys the most.
“It’s visiting with the different members and listening to their stories,” Martz said. “Myself, I don’t have that many stories to relay to them, but I like listening to their stories — their life and so forth.”
“We’re regenerating the spirit of charity, advancing that along the way,” he added.
Martz said the most important duty of a Knight is to serve the needs of the Catholic Church and, in doing so, he has assisted in the renovation of St. Francis de Sales Church and in any other projects the pastor needs to be done.
Since he joined, Martz has served under six different pastors at St. Francis de Sales and was the maintenance man for more than 20 years.
“If you ever needed anything, the guy to ask was Robert,” Keohane said. “He’ll know and he did it all.”
Father McEvoy said Martz is the epitome of the church’s patron.
“He is prayerful, meek and humble. He is a gentle man and very sincerely devout — a true example of living a Christian life,” he said. “There’s no guile in him. What you see is what you get.”
“When I arrived here in 2010, Robert was sacristan and in charge of our plant maintenance,” he continued. “His institutional memory ran so deep. His generous service overflowed beyond the parish to feeding the hungry at St. Mary’s Food Kitchen [in Kansas City, Kansas] for decades [and] always with a smile on his face.”
Martz remains humble in his service.
“I haven’t done that much,” he said.
But Keohane said Martz is the prime example of how a Knight is supposed to be.
“To me, Robert is the true person — no airs, very religious and will do anything for you. That to me is the example of a Catholic gentleman,” Keohane said.
“He’s taken care of our church, taken care of our pastors, taken care of everything,” he added. “He’s done more than anyone else I know.”
Council 10834 Grand Knight Edd Hingula said Martz is an example of the four principles of a Knight — charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism.
“Many seek to follow Robert’s example and respect Robert Martz as a Catholic gentleman,” Hingula said. “A true Knight, loyal to God, the Catholic Church and the fraternal organization of which he has been such a staunch member that the Supreme Knight personally recognizes and commends him for all to see.”
Martz said he feels proud when he looks over his years as a Knight.
“It doesn’t seem possible that we did all those things, but I guess we have done it,” he said. “It’s just a great feeling when you look back on it.
“It’s a great feeling of accomplishment.”
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