I spent quite a few hours sitting in an airport on my way home after the services for John Scott, Past Master of the National Grange. This is the second time in just over a month that I’ve had this experience. Kermit Richardson passed away last month and then John this month.
These two men have been in my thoughts as I’ve reflected on what they meant to Grange members and to me.
John served from 1968-79 and I remember the 79th Annual National Grange Convention in Lancaster, Pa., where he stepped down and turned over the administration of the National Grange to Ed Andersen. He was always an inspiration to me, and decades later when I was elected to the office that he had held, he was the first past Master to call and congratulate me. That simple generous act touched me deeply, and I realized that he cared far more for our Order and the people serving it than in any personal recognition.
John showed all of us how Grange leaders should step back when you leave office. He went home and served his family, community, and Grange. He mowed lawns and cleared snow from driveways just to help others. He never stopped being a leader and he continued to inspire others throughout his life.
Kermit served from 1995-2003 and I had the pleasure to serve as a State Master for four years during his administration. I developed deep admiration and respect for him as I worked with him to advance the Grange in Oregon. Then in 2001, he gave me the opportunity to serve as Membership Director under him.
Kermit opened many doors for me and challenged me to become the best leader possible. His confidence and optimism in the Grange, and in its members, motivated those around him to excel. Kermit built a strong team during his time in National Grange leadership and dealt with many issues include some that others viewed as sacred cows.
John and Kermit were both strong leaders, with definite views and opinions. They both built teams that allowed them to accomplish far more than they could have as individuals. In addition, they both always remembered that the success of the Grange is based in the Community Grange first. Only after we find that success can we prosper at the State and National levels.
I hope that our members who knew them across the country will share their memories of both of these two men with our newer members. Both left their mark on our Order through their service. We should encourage the next generation to remember and emulate them.
Both deserve our respect and admiration and on behalf of all those they touched, and for both I repeat the words from the lessons of our Order, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”