Like Grandfather, Like Father, Like Son

Created: Jun 20, 2024
Category: General News

Three generations of K of C leaders reflect on how the Order has shaped them as men of faith

By Cecilia Engbert



Ryan Kehoe joined the Knights of Columbus as soon as he turned 18. Becoming a Knight was just something the now 24-year-old district deputy in Virginia always knew he’d do, like his father, grandfather and great-grandfather before him.

Leadership in the Order is a tradition the Kehoe family has passed down through the generations as part of its legacy of Catholic faith. Ryan is a son of Supreme Director Steve Kehoe and a grandson of former Supreme Secretary Don Kehoe, both of them past state deputies of Virginia. All three are active members of Father Francis J. Diamond Council 6292 in Fairfax.

“The biggest thing that brings us together is our faith and the common beliefs and principles of the Knights,” said Steve Kehoe. “It’s just a natural part of our family.”

It started with Don Kehoe’s father, Andrew, who joined the Order in 1945 and was a Knight for more than 50 years. Don became a Knight in 1978, shortly after he and his wife, Sandy, moved from St. Louis to the Washington, D.C., area. The father of one of Steve’s friends invited Don to join; eager to become involved in a faith community, he signed up.

“Being a Knight helped me develop a better relationship with the Church, learning to deal with different situations, and it helped me within my work program to be a leader,” said Don, who worked for many years as an IRS executive.

Don served as grand knight of Council 6292, district deputy and, from 1990 to 1991, state deputy of Virginia. After retiring from the IRS, Don held several positions for the Supreme Council before serving as supreme secretary from 2007 to 2011.

“It’s the fraternity, the people I’ve met through the Knights, and the support that is given to the Church, that makes being a Knight so important to me,” he said.

Steve joined at age 18; just like his father, he went on to serve as grand knight, district deputy and eventually state deputy (2017-2018), making them the first father-son state deputies of Virginia. He has worked for many years in the pricing field and joined the Knights of Columbus Board of Directors in 2021.

For Steve, being a Knight has provided essential formation for his vocation as a father. He and his wife, Wendy, have four children.

“Every day as a Knight is learning more about how to live and express our faith,” he said. “We take the example of the Knights — helping others through faith and charity — and pass it along to our family. That doesn’t happen a lot in society currently.”

Ryan was involved with the Knights well before he could become a member. Through the years, he sold Christmas trees beside his grandpa, woke up bright and early on Saturday mornings with his dad to pray the rosary outside of an abortion center, helped with fund drives for people with intellectual disabilities and participated with the Knights year after year in the March for Life.

Following in their footsteps, Ryan served as grand knight of James Madison University Council 9286 during his senior year and rejoined Council 6292 in Fairfax after graduating in 2022. He became a district deputy in 2023.

“I’ve seen from my dad, from my grandfather, how to be a leader and a good father. I’ve watched how they treat everyone they encounter with respect,” said Ryan, who now works in development for The Catholic University of America in Washington. “I always get the ‘Oh, you’re Steve’s son’ or ‘You’re Don’s grandson,’ which is fun. But I think it speaks to how many people my dad and my grandpa have touched throughout the years, and the positive impact they’ve had on lives.”

But the witness goes in all directions. Over his years of leadership with the Knights, Don has traveled to many places and met many people. But one of his biggest inspirations is how his son and grandson live the mission of the Knights.

“To me, it just reinforces the ability of the Knights to develop men into better people, and in my son’s case, better parents,” he said. “They were both raised with the Knights in the background, and it helped them to develop into the men that they are.”


CECILIA ENGBERT is a content producer for the Knights of Columbus communications department.