History of the SK Bernice C. Williams Exemplification Corps
In 1964, Sir Knight Bernice C. Williams, Master of Virginia, DeSoto Province, met with Sir Knights William Morlino and John B. Bowden to discuss the feasibility of establishing a Fourth Degree Exemplification Corps in Virginia. Unfortunately, Sir Knight Williams passed away as the initial groundwork was being laid but he instilled this same driving ambition in his successor, Sir Knight William Morlino. During his tenure as Master from 1964 until 1966, Morlino met regularly with Joseph A. Sweeny, Vice Supreme Master of DeSoto Province, who wholeheartedly endorsed the formation of a degree corps and offered his personal assistance. Morlino, Bowden, and several other Sir Knights worked arduously to find and train qualified exemplars, build station props, obtain degree corps robes, etc. Yet, this Master would see his term of office come to a close without the realization of a Virginia exemplification corps.
In 1966, Sir Knight John B. Bowden became the new Master of Virginia. He was in his second year of office before he would see the goal of his predecessors fulfilled. There was a unanimous decision to christen the corps in honor of its founder - thus the Bernice C. Williams Fourth Degree Exemplification Corps was born. The twenty-two Sir Knights who formed this initial group presented their first exemplification in Norfolk on October 1, 1967.
The degree corps has enjoyed guidance and support from three dedicated Sir Knights who have served as team captain:
Albert P. Ward, FM - 1967-1975
Francis Appel, FM - 1975-1984
Wayne Gretencord, PFN - 1984-
Since its inception until his death in 2003, the degree corps benefited from the spiritual guidance of Msgr. Francis L. Bradican, the last charter member of the team. He was succeeded by the Rev. Frank Ready as Friar and spiritual advisor to the degree corps, who served until his death in January 2015.
Sir Knight Marion Wypych was honored as the first director of the choir and served until December 1978. He was succeeded by Sir Knight Leonard Andrukonis, a charter member of the degree corps, who served as director from 1979 through 1999. SK Alfred N. King served from 2000 through 2003. The choir is currently directed by Sir Knight Vincent J. Eikmeier.
The Sir Knights of Virginia gratefully acknowledge the loyalty and dedication of the founding members and all who have served as part of the Bernice C. Williams Fourth Degree Exemplification Corps.
Fourth Degree Exemplification Corps Team Members
Faithful Friar: (vacant)
Defender of the Faith: SK Frank J. Loughney, PSD, FVSM
Exponent of the Constitution: SK Michael A.Bellanca, PSD
Historian: SK John F. Barrett, PSD, FSD
Narrator: SK Dennis Makurat
Recorder and Degree Team Captain: SK Wayne G. Gretencord, PFN
Exemplar Support: SK John F. Bland
Marshal: SK Richard S. Aleksy, PSD, FM
Associate Marshal: SK John Kost, PFN
SK Vincent J. Eikmeier, PFN
SK William R. Gray
SK Ronald Largett, PFN
SK M. Joseph Naman, PFN
SK Stephen A. Rogers
SK Robert F. Sedlak, PFN
SK Mark W. Sewell
SK Stephen T. Smith, PFN
Property Manager: SK Thomas J. Harrington
Associate Manager: SK James R. Tonnesson