State Council News

Knights Mourn Passing of Virgil C. Dechant

Posted Feb 17, 2020
by Mark

Virgil C. Dechant was the Order’s longest-serving supreme knight, holding the office from 1977 to 2000.

The Knights of Columbus mourns the loss of Past Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant, who passed away in his sleep at the age of 89 during the night of February 15, 2020. He was the Order’s longest-serving supreme knight, holding the office from 1977 to 2000.

“God has called home a good man and one of the Knights’ great leaders,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. “Virgil Dechant used to say that his goal was to leave the Knights better than he found it, and in myriad ways, he accomplished that. He leaves a lasting legacy and an excellent example of what it means to be a Knight and a fraternalist. Nowhere is this more true than in his home state of Kansas, which remains in many ways a model jurisdiction.”

Virgil Dechant joined the Knights in 1949 and was a member of LaCrosse (Kansas) Council 2970 and St. Augustine Council 2340 in Liebanthal, Kansas. A very successful businessman, in addition to operating a private farm in Kansas, Dechant owned and operated his own car dealership and farm equipment firm. Dechant came to New Haven in 1967 to serve as the supreme secretary. Ten years later, he was elected supreme knight.

As supreme knight, Virgil Dechant oversaw tremendous growth in the Order’s membership as well as in its assets and insurance business, while also opening the Order to greater involvement by the wives and families of its members. In addition, Mr. Dechant forged a close relationship with the Vatican during the pontificate of St. John Paul II, leading the Order to sponsor numerous renovation projects – including of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, and working with the pope to promote the faith in Eastern Europe, which was then behind the iron curtain.

Dechant is survived by his wife, Ann, their four children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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