By Barb Arland-Fye
LeCLAIRE — When Joan Puck answered the phone, the caller said her husband, Jimmie, had been chosen Knight of the Year by the Iowa Knights of Columbus. “Are you sure?” she asked the caller. When he answered yes, she asked him to call back because her husband was resting and would need to be alert to hear such wonderful, but unexpected news.
Jimmie Puck, a member of Our Lady of the River Knights of Columbus Council 13804 in LeClaire, was shocked to hear about the honor when the Knights’ representative called back. “I asked, ‘Who nominated me?’ … In fact, I think I asked that question twice.”
His council nominated the dedicated Knight and parish caretaker. Puck is deeply appreciative to the council for seeking to recognize him from among more than 31,000 Knights in Iowa.
News of the award arrived April 6, six months to the day that Msgr. Leo Feeney died. He was the parish’s pastor and an active member of the Knights who started the parish’s council seven years ago. Puck had become especially close to Msgr. Feeney as he struggled with illness in the last year of his life.
“When Msg. Feeney became ill and needed oxygen, Jimmie became his driver, his assistant, his friend, and as needed, the technician for Monsignor ’s oxygen machines,” LeClaire Knight Tim Tisinger wrote in his nomination letter.
Puck and Msgr. Feeney were together at the Mayo Clinic when the priest learned of the gravity of his health situation. “That was a hard trip for both Monsignor and Jimmie. Jimmie had become Monsignor’s confidant,” Tisinger wrote.
Beyond his dedication to Msgr. Feeney, Puck served more than three years as the LeClaire Knights’ recorder, has led the annual Persons with Disabilities Drive for the last four years and is now Deputy Grand Knight. He also recruited several new Knights and usually is the first to show up to help with breakfasts and other events and the last to leave, “mopping the floor of the kitchen before he locks up to go home,” Tisinger said.
Henry Fullick, a past state deputy and member of the St. Edward’s Knights of Columbus Council in Clinton, served on the committee that chose Puck for the award.
“It was partially because of the things he’d done for Monsignor, plus all of the things he’s done for the church and the community. We look at the whole picture,” Fullick says.
Puck says he enjoys being a Knight because of the good things the organization does and for the opportunity to meet people and become better acquainted with them. He values the spiritual component as well. He describes the Knights as a “group of guys working together in service to others, guided by our faith and the teachings of the church.”
Having a supportive wife is a big boost in his service to the Knights, the church and life in general, he says. The Pucks have been married for nearly 42 years and are the parents of three grown children and six grandchildren whom they dote over. Together the couple works on many parish-related projects and social service activities.
“I’m a strong believer in being active in the parish,” says Joan. “And I can see how he enjoys working with the guys. They have fun with the fish fries and the breakfasts.”
The Pucks were surprised during the May 3 awards ceremony to hear a listing of projects they’ve been involved in. “There were other people involved … it takes a lot of people to make these different events successful,” Joan Puck says.
But her husband continues in his quiet way to be of assistance around the parish, now with a new pastor, Father Joe Wolf.
Puck, a humble man, insists there’s nothing special about himself. “I’m a work in progress at being a better person.”