Knights shocked as future state deputy dies

Grant Mann

Grant Mann

May 18, 2015
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Grant Mann believed the Alberta-Northwest Territories Knights of Columbus was beginning to stray from its original purpose and wanted to bring it back in line.

With that goal in mind, he decided to run for the office of state deputy at the Knights' April 17-19 convention in Red Deer. He won and was to become the top leader of the 18,000 Knights in Alberta next month.

God, however, had other plans. Mann, a professional business consultant, died of heart complications April 29, just two months before his installation. He was 58.

The Knights run a predictable operation. Customarily, it is the state secretary who becomes state deputy.

As state membership director, Mann wasn't expected to make a run for the position, which this year was expected to go to state secretary Ronald Schuster.

But Mann's council, Edmonton's Holy Trinity Council, proposed his candidacy at the convention and suddenly two candidates were vying for the top position.

In the end, Mann defeated Schuster by two votes.

Dennis Stansfield, grand knight of Holy Trinity Council and the knight who nominated Mann, said Mann's candidacy "caused a lot of controversy because the fellow he was running against had been on state council for about 15 years.

"Instead of taking a lower position and trying to move up through the council, Grant decided to just make a play for the state deputy position because it was becoming vacant this year. So there was a lot of animosity."

GOOD ADMINISTRATOR

Stansfield said Holy Trinity Council, which is based at St. Agnes and St. Anthony's parishes, threw its support behind Mann "because we felt he would be a good man for the job with his experience in business administration."

He said he respected Mann because he had a large Catholic family and still found time to get involved in many Church projects.

Mann's wife Velma said her husband ran for state deputy "because he wanted to make sure that the mission that Father (Michael J.) McGivney had set up would be run properly.

"That was his focus. He wanted to get back to the way Father McGivney designed the Knights of Columbus."

He felt "sometimes when people get involved in an organization they are doing it for their own self-gratification not for the good of the Church and the order of the Knights of Columbus."

Outgoing State Deputy William Smith said Mann's death was a big loss for the Knights.

NEW LEADER NEEDED

Mann was to be installed as leader of the Knights in June. Now the new state executive will have to choose a replacement, Smith said. "I'll remember him as man of faith who was very dedicated to the Knights and to his family."

Born in Bienfait, Sask., May 15, 1956, Mann attended the University of Saskatchewan where he obtained a bachelor in commerce and a master's in business administration.

In his career, he provided management advice to numerous public and private sector organizations in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. He married Velma in 1977. They have nine children and 15 grandchildren.

Mann joined the Knights of Columbus in 1989 and served as grand knight for several councils across Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

He was completing a two-year term as a membership director when he became state deputy elect.

Mann and his family moved to Edmonton in 2009 from McLennan, where he was serving as financial secretary for the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan.

CHURCH AND FAMILY

"I'll remember him as a very dedicated and committed man to the Church and his faith and his family," Velma said. "He always wanted to do what he viewed as right for the Church and the family.

"Some people maybe would have viewed him as being too headstrong but when he had his vision set on something, he would go for it 101 per cent."

Past State Deputy Wally Streit spent a couple of hours with Mann going over organizational details the evening before he died.

Streit said Mann was a good friend, an exemplary father and grandfather, and a man of faith who believed strongly in the value of human life.

"Grant believed strongly in the first principle of the Knights of Columbus – charity – and he worked hard to ensure his brother knights walked the talk relative to charity," he said. "He had a great sense of humour and enjoyed a good laugh."