September 12, 2012 - The man behind the weekly bingo games at the Knights of Columbus hall in Orion officially retired after 46 years.
Mat Mersino (click for larger version)
"I finally decided it was time to stop and smell the roses," said Mat Mersino, 89, of Oxford.
Mersino, who's been a member of the Knights for more than 50 years, was the one who first suggested the group host bingo games as a way to raise revenue.
From then on, it was his thing.
"I got it started so I thought I'm responsible for it, I'll stay with it," he said. "It was quite popular from the get-go."
Originally, bingo was illegal in Michigan, so instead of awarding cash prizes, the Knights gave winners meat and fresh fruit.
"We gave away steaks, chops, chickens," said Mersino, who graduated from Oxford High School in 1941. "For specials, we had baskets of fruit."
These days, the Thursday evening game at 1400 Orion Rd. averages about 100 players.
Despite all the games he organized, Mersino isn't a bingo addict.
"It's been quite a while since I've played," he said.
Hard to imagine a life running bingo games, considering all the action Mersino saw in Europe during World War II.
He spent three years in the U.S. Army with the 405th AAA Gun Battalion.
"We shot down buzz bombs using 90-millimeter guns," Mersino said.
After the war, he spent 38 years working for Avon Tube in Rochester.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.