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A Shield for Families

11/4/2015

Tom Tracy

This article originally appeared in a previous issue of Columbia.

Since its founding in 1882, a primary mission of the Knights of Columbus has been to protect the financial future of families. Although times have changed, and Order has grown to include top-rated life insurance, long-term care insurance and retirement products, its mission is essentially the same. Tens of thousands of families have benefited from Knights of Columbus Insurance in recent years. Here are the stories of just a few.

A TRAGIC LOSS

Robert Bubencik Jr. and his family sit outside their home in Foxboro, Mass. When Bubencik's son, Brandon died of bacterial meningitis in 1997, a K of C Insurance policy covered funeral costs and helped establish a charitable trust for research at Children's Hospital Boston.

Robert Bubencik Jr. recalled that in 1972, his father purchased Knights of Columbus life insurance for him and his sisters. Fifteen years later, when Bubencik turned 18, he took responsibility for the policy himself. Following his father’s example, Bubencik and his wife didn’t hesitate to take out a life insurance policy before the arrival of their son, Brendan, in 1997.

“I said to my wife, ‘Why don’t we do the same thing, and it will be something special,’” Bubencik said. “Brendan was our first child.”

After Brendan was born, he soon developed a fever, the cause of which was initially misdiagnosed as a normal infection. Doctors prescribed antibiotics and sent the family home. The Bubenciks then returned — this time to the emergency room. When their baby developed seizures, the doctors at Children’s Hospital Boston recognized the condition as bacterial meningitis.

“It was too late to help Brendan,” recalled Bubencik, noting that the bacterial form of meningitis is far more lethal than the more common viral form. When the baby passed away, the Knights of Columbus life insurance policy paid for the funeral, leaving additional money unspent. The couple used the remaining funds to set up a charitable trust to augment the research at Children’s Hospital.

“We targeted infectious diseases they were researching, so we set up a trust in Brendan’s name with an annual golf tournament,” Bubencik said. He added that the tournament has raised approximately $15,000 annually, proceeds from which have been used to support the work of researcher Dr. Richard Malley.

He added that the tournament was always a kind of family reunion and that only one event was affected by rain. “I felt Brendan was looking out for us, because rain is the thing you always worry about with golf tournaments,” he said.

Mike Capobianco, the K of C agent who sold the policy for Brendan, attended one of the tournaments and recalled how Bubencik stood up to announce that the endeavor would not have been possible without the Knights of Columbus.

“I was absolutely choked up,” Capobianco said.

About 18 months after Brendan’s death, Bubencik and his wife welcomed twins, a boy and a girl. Not long after, Capobianco was invited to their home, not only to meet the new children, but to revisit their insurance needs.

A HAPPY RETIREMENT

Anthony "Tony" Paschall and his wife, Barbara, moved a portion of their retirement funds into a K of C annuity to supplement their income.

Anthony “Tony” Paschall, a member of Slidell (La.) Council 2732, could not be happier about his retirement in the New Orleans area — except for the fact that the weather this year has been uncharacteristically cold in the South. Paschall can afford to be a little tongue-in-cheek about his circumstances, in part because of some smart financial decisions he made with the help of the Terry Kennedy Agency in New Orleans.

During his 25 years working in promotions for RCA Records, Paschall met and worked with the likes of Elvis Presley and Herman’s Hermits. When technology evolved and 45 rpm records went out of vogue, Paschall went on to work in telephone sales and installation in the New York City area. It was the 1990s, and the Y2K scare bolstered his sales and helped set him up financially for a better retirement. Eventually, he and his wife followed one of their daughters and the grandkids to Louisiana.

One month after purchasing a new home in 2005, Hurricane Katrina sent five trees through the couple’s roof followed by four feet of water. The resulting financial stresses prompted them to revisit their situation with the help of Curtis Monson, a Knights of Columbus field agent with the Terry Kennedy Agency.

Paschall’s father was a Fourth Degree Knight in Pennsylvania, so he felt comfortable letting the agent complete a financial review and suggest that they move a large chunk of Paschall’s retirement money into a K of C annuity. They annuitized the funds to extract a monthly payment to supplement his income, and Paschall’s wife also acquired a K of C annuity, using money from her 401K and choosing an alternate payment option.

Paschall said that at this stage of his life, he was looking for an income he could count on.”We have additional monthly income now because we are both collecting social security and income from the Knights of Columbus, so it is working out nicely for us,” he said. “This was an answer to my prayers.”

While his wife is retired and enjoying the grandkids, Paschall is looking to buy a boat and scouting locations for them to fish.

“Thank God we are happy,” said Paschall. “We would be happier if we had better weather. It just won’t warm up!”

‘A FATHER’S GIFT’

Dorothy Gallagher's husband, Kevin, died from advanced lung cancer in 2007. Without Kevin's Knights of Columbus Insurance policy, Dorothy and her three children could have faced bankruptcy.

On March 26, 2007, Kevin Gallagher of Spokane, Wash., was in the hospital delivery room as his wife, Dorothy, gave birth to their daughter, Abigail — a name that means “father’s gift.” Gallagher was in the final days of his battle with advanced lung cancer, and complications from the illness left him mostly blind, unable to see the baby.

Nevertheless, he insisted on being present, if only to hold his third child and to be around as much as possible before the cancer took his life — which happened little more than a month after Abigail’s birth. The couple had had some difficulty with previous childbirths, and the doctors didn’t think they would be able to have another child.

“I look at Abigail and think we should never have been able to have more kids, but I believe she was given to us to give Kevin a fighting reason to be around just a little bit longer,” said Dorothy Gallagher. “I still try to have gatherings around [Kevin’s] birthday or the anniversary of his death. He liked to have people come together.”

Whereas Dorothy described her husband as not much of a “joiner,” he was deeply committed to the Knights of Columbus. With the assistance of their Knights of Columbus Insurance agent, Dave Bailey, the Gallaghers fortunately purchased life insurance for themselves and their children in 2005. Bailey was a serious guy who convinced the Gallaghers to make room in their monthly budget for life insurance, and in the process he became a friend of the family.

By the fall of the following year, Dorothy discovered she was pregnant; one month later her husband was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. The disease was too far along for surgery to make sense. Kevin had to quit working, but he put their financial affairs in order and made sure Dorothy understood the family finances and how the insurance they had purchased would be enough to cover the family’s short-term costs.

“Kevin was so passionate about the importance of taking care of our family,” Dorothy said. “He was the kind of guy people would look at and say, ‘That is the kind of father or husband I want to be.’”

She added, “I know many people — some who are related to me — who don’t have life insurance and haven’t taken that step.”

On Kevin’s deathbed, his fellow council members arranged to have Kevin inducted into the Order’s Fourth Degree. The word “Sir” was added to his name on the gravestone, along with the emblem of the Order. And last year, Knights in Spokane chartered a new council and named it after Kevin’s favorite saint, St. Michael the Archangel.

The survivor’s benefits helped to pay for the funeral and for $150,000 in unpaid medical bills and other expenses.

“I want his death to be something positive.” Dorothy said, “and so I want to be an advocate for life insurance. Without it, I would have ended up in bankruptcy, questioning how I would have raised the kids.”