CRESTVIEW — Being named Florida's 2013-2014 Knight of the Year caught George Liedel by surprise.
"It just blew me away," the 81-year-old Crestview resident said.
But the recognition is no shock to other Knights of Columbus members in Crestview Council 7968.
'Acts like he's 26'
Liedel attends regular council meetings at the K of C's Twin Hills Park building, volunteers for Tuesday night bingo fundraisers, assists with quarterly highway clean-ups and Boy Scout activities and is the council's Crestview Area Chamber of Commerce liaison.
He is an acolyte and regularly attends and assists with daily Mass at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church.
During the Christmas season, he suits up as Santa Claus, visits churches, schools, restaurants, stores, hospitals and assisted living facilities and passes out candy canes at his own expense, friends said.
"He is absolutely amazing," Herb Fosman said. "He acts like he is 26 ... he puts a lot of younger members to shame."
Liedel's high involvement and energy earned him the local council's recognition earlier this month; that made him eligible for state candidacy.
"They look at the overall contributions of the (candidates)," said Gene Calabro, the group's master knight. "(Liedel) has made contributions in many areas, and he has been doing that for many years."
The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic organization that promotes charity, unity and fraternity, according to its website. Liedel — who learned about his award May 24 during a state banquet in Orlando — said he's happy to see involvement in the organization become a family tradition.
"My father was a knight; I have been a knight for the past 20 years. I have two sons who are knights living in Michigan, and now my grandson (Billy Thompson) just started this year." Liedel said.
Thompson said Liedel's example inspires him.
"It makes me walk a little taller, me being a fourth-generation (member) and him being Knight of the Year," he said.