Barbara and Ed Waitkevich are the Knights of Columbus Council 6168 October Family of the Month.
“Barbara, representing Our Lady of Grace Church, has, for many years, helped lead the very successful blood drives that the parish and Knights of Columbus conduct every eight weeks,” Grand Knight John Uva said. “Together she and Ed represent, big time, a dwindling number of the old guard who have done so much for the Church, Knights and community.”
The couple has a long history of community involvement, especially with Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church. Because of age and ailments, they recently have reduced their workload. Ed, 83, now recovering from a broken hip, has been a knight for more than 22 years.
Barbara, who has vision issues, is the religious articles store manager and member of the parish health ministry at Our Lady of Grace Church in Beverly Hills.
Over many years, they, together, took Holy Communion to the homebound, faith-shared at Scripture study meetings, and led a parish team that reached out twice weekly to homeless people coming to the Family Resource Center in Hernando. They also ran clothing collections at Our Lady of Grace Church, sometimes resulting in several pickup loads of donations for homeless people at the Family Resource Center.
Ed, who did much of the heavy lifting, modestly noted that he “just tagged along to help out.” But, he does a lot more. The next time he donates blood, health permitting on December 14, it will be his 125th pint. He is a reliable donor whenever LifeSouth’s crew comes to Our Lady of Grace Church.
Barbara and Ed are recipients of the coveted 2009 St. Jude Medal from the Diocese of St. Petersburg for “distinguished and outstanding service to their parish and community.”
Neither wanted to say much about themselves, but Barbara allowed this when they received the medal: “God has been really good to us, and now is the time to give back,” she said. “It’s our turn. I’m going to keep on going until I can’t anymore.”
Barbara is a registered nurse, retired since 1978. Ed is a retired Foxboro, Mass. police officer and was a volunteer fireman and entrepreneur. He operated a wrecker service. They met in the early 1980s at the 50-yard line during a New England Patriots game in Foxboro Stadium. He was detailed there as a police officer and she was handling first aid.
They are parents of 10 children and grandparents of 22. The couple lives in Citrus Hills since coming to the area from Foxboro and Norfolk, Mass., in 1992.