Knights of Columbus emblem Knights of Columbus Wyoming State Council  
Knights of Columbus emblem

International Family of the Year

Supreme in 1978 started a new award, The International Family of the Year award. Since the turn of the century, three Wyoming Knights of Columbus families have been named International Family of the Year during awards ceremonies at the Knights' annual international conventions in 2003, 2009, and 2014.

"The international awards presented at our supreme convention honor those councils that exemplify in a particular way the mission of the Knights of Columbus, especially our first principle of charity," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "Each award winner helps to remind all of the great good that can be done when faith inspires service to God and neighbor."

The families honored were:


The Ralph and Virginia Trotter Family

The Ralph and Virginia Trotter Family

The Ralph and Virginia Trotter Family
Father James F. Power Council 9917
Casper, Wyoming


The Ralph and Virginia Trotter family of Casper, Wyoming, was named the Knights of Columbus 2003 International Family of the Year at the Catholic fraternal organization's 121st annual meeting in Washington. The Trotters were chosen from among nearly 70 families submitted for the honor by state chapters of the Knights of Columbus in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. Trotter joined the Knights in 1989. Both he and his wife, Virginia, grew up in Knights of Columbus families. Virginia's father, George Burns of Riverton, Wyoming, is a past state deputy (president) of the Knights there. They have two sons, Chris, age 25, and Shawn, age 26, both of whom are Knights. They have two grandchildren. The Trotters belong to Father James F. Powers Council 9917 in Casper.

Both husband and wife have long and distinguished records of service to the Catholic Church in their parish, St. Anthony's in Casper. They have taught youth religious education courses, marriage preparation programs and chaperoned youth activities. In 2002 the Trotters were chaperones for young people from Wyoming who traveled to Toronto for World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II.

"We don't feel like we're doing anything extraordinary," said Virginia Trotter. "We just feel like it's what every Catholic should be doing."

Ralph Trotter works in the oil industry and Virginia is the parish administrator at St. Anthony's Church. He is a volunteer member of the Community Emergency Response Team. Both are active in the Republican Party and are serving their third term as precinct chairs.

From 1995 to 2003, the Trotters served as coordinators of the Wyoming Knights' pro-life programs. In this position they solicited participation by Wyoming Knights in a statewide March for Life at the Wyoming statehouse on the Jan. 22 anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. They also directed an annual statewide fund-raising program to benefit local crisis pregnancy centers.

This is the 25th year the Knights have chosen an International Family of the Year.

Reproduced from Columbia Magazine. Used with permission.


The Vetter Family

The Vetter Family

The Leland and Mary Ann Vetter Family
Monsignor Kimmett Council 6623
Torrington, Wyoming


The Vetter Family received the honor during ceremonies held on Wednesday, August 5th, at the Supreme Convention held in Phoenix, Arizona. Presentation of the Order's 2009 International Family of the Year Award, was made to Knight of Columbus Leland Vetter – a member of Msgr. Fred J. Kimmet, Council #6623, Torrington, Wyoming – and his family.

The Vetter family gives real meaning to the K of C motto, "In Service to One, In Service to All." Leland and Mary Ann Vetter and their 10 children, who range in age from 2 to 27, have compiled an extraordinary record of service to the Church and their community. Leland , a Knight for 33 years, has held all of his council's leadership positions. He has been the council's "Tootsie Roll" chairman for 20 years, a bingo volunteer for 25 years and is a member of his parish council.

When it snows in Torrington, Leland is out before dawn plowing the Church parking lot. He raised funds for the parish hall expansion and helps train parish altar servers. He teaches at Eastern Wyoming Community College and was recently appointed by the governor of Wyoming to the state's Community College Task Force on Education. Two of his sons are Knights. His brother, Austin, is a priest who attended the North American College in Rome.

Mary Ann Vetter spearheads Thursday Eucharistic devotions in their Parish of St. Rose of Lima. She organized a "Moms Group" which provides spiritual formation and retreats for the women of the Parish. She visits shut-ins in the neighborhood and takes care of other mothers' children to give them a break. She and Leland are very involved in the pro-life activities of their council and community.

The Vetter children, following their parents' example, are active volunteers in the Church and community. They are the latest of five generations of Vetters, all descendants of immigrants who settled in North Dakota in the 19th century. Leland's parents were the North Dakota Knights of Columbus Family of the Year in 1994, and placed in third for that year's international award.

The Knights of Columbus is an international lay Catholic organization with 1.75 million members who belong to more than 13,000 affiliated councils, and annually recognizes families for their commitment to the organization's principles and involvement in related activities.

Congratulations to the Vetter Family from the Wyoming Knights of Columbus!

Reproduced from the August, 2009, edition of the Cowboy Bulletin.


The James and Stefanie Bell Family

The James and Stefanie Bell Family

The James and Stefanie Bell Family
Bishop Maurice F. Burke Council 4031
Cody, Wyoming


One of the most impressive traits of the members of this year's International Family of the Year is their deep commitment to the culture of life. James and Stefanie Bell, married for 27 years, have 10 children, ranging in age from 2 to 24. Their names are: Ashlen, Hallie, Taylor, James, Kateri, Michaela, Cecilia, John and Felicity. Their son Matthias died at 3 days of age. All family members are active in St. Anthony of Padua parish, their community and the Knights of Columbus.

In 2005, as an alternative to an event sponsored by a local family planning organization, the Bells held a "Horton Hears a Who" culture of life event, with the theme "a person is a person, no matter how small." This concept has caught on and become an annual event, attracting 400 attendees. James' K of C unit, Bishop Maurice Burke Council 4031 in Cody, provides funding and logistical support for the event.

James, a Knight since 1995, was a key to his council's efforts to form a Monastery Guild that created a greater awareness of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, a cloister dedicated to prayer that supports itself by selling Mystic Monk Coffee. He and his wife traveled to nine parishes last summer to make presentations on the guild's work.

James and Stefanie led the campaign to raise funds to purchase an ultrasound machine for the Serenity Pregnancy Resource Center. In just three weeks, the campaign raised enough money to receive matching funds from the Knights of Columbus Ultrasound Initiative.

James has chaired many other activities for his council, including a highway clean up and youth service committee. He also served as a Scout master, chaperoned Natural History Days at the local school system, was a youth basketball coach and sings in the parish's choir.

Stefanie and another local mother started a group named "Mary's Moms." Their goal is to provide young mothers with moral support and help them build self-esteem. They begin meetings by praying the rosary and offering prayer petitions. They offer Bible study, marriage mentoring and support through difficult pregnancies and family deaths. In addition, James and Stefanie are parish marriage mentors, and have helped with youth pilgrimages to Rome.

In a letter endorsing the Bell family as the Wyoming State Council Family of the Year, State Chaplain Father Tom Ogg, said: "Their joyful, gentle, and dare I say simple example is clearly an ideal Christian witness to family life. They embody our Pope Francis' life of simplicity, humility, and loving service."