Tag Archives: leadership

Leadership models are still needed today

bald eagle

Our iconic national symbol.

By Bruce Stambaugh

As a child, I liked February for very practical reasons. The shortest month of the year offered three celebrations, Valentines Day, Lincoln’s birthday, and Washington’s Birthday all in the space of 10 days.

Feb. 12, 14, and 22 were all important dates for us elementary scholars 60 years ago. Madison Avenue marketing gurus had yet to invent, and politicians endorse Presidents Day. Valentines Day was the favorite of the students of course.

George Washington

George Washington.

With their imposing portraits hanging in each classroom, the first president and the 16th clearly carried more importance. As primary school children, we were taught to admire and imitate the values those two distinguished leaders modeled so magnanimously.

Of course, much of what we learned then was more lore than fact. The stories weren’t even alternative facts. The young lives of these two critical leaders had become romanticized over time.

Washington and Lincoln both revered honesty. Washington’s “I cannot tell a lie” cherry tree story lingers like a fairy tale. Lincoln prided himself on honesty, too. His presidential campaign slogan was simply “Honest Abe.”

Washington was and is admired for his stalwart, steady, stable leadership in tumultuous, tenuous times of our young country. Lincoln, of course, perilously held the country together during its darkest hours, the Civil War.

In the late 1960s, the federal holidays were legislated to fall on Mondays creating long weekends for employees and mega marketing sales campaigns for retailers of every kind. Consequently, Washington’s Birthday was moved to the third Monday in Feb. That means his Feb. 22 birthdate can never be celebrated on the actual birthday.

Abe Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln.

The dynamic leadership of Washington and Lincoln both formed and saved our country. Each man cast aside personal time and gains for the country’s common good. They were humble, honest leaders who enabled our nation to reach far beyond anything they could have imagined.

Clearly, there was much more to George Washington than repenting from chopping down a cherry tree or having wooden teeth. He was a resolute military and civilian leader whose personal stability laid the foundation for the United States of America. He rightly earned “The Father of Our Country” mantra.

Lincoln was perhaps a more complex figure, and viewed differently, depending on which part of the country you lived in and what individuals believed at the time and believe now. Some states still don’t honor Lincoln’s birthday.

Nevertheless, it was Lincoln’s absolute resolve and courage that saw our divided nation bend but not break. In the end, his steadfast pronouncements cost him his life. Though he was known to ponder and doubt, he never wavered from the way the united country should go.

Though he would have rather been back on the farm at Mt. Vernon, Washington fulfilled his leadership calling. But he was not arrogant in thinking he could lead alone. Washington valued the opinion of others and collaborated with Hamilton, Madison, and Jefferson to name a few, men whose viewpoints often differed with his.

Lincoln’s eloquent Gettysburg Address perfectly summed up his attitude and approach to the vision of how the country should and must operate to survive. His famous words are emblazoned on our national soul: “That government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Both presidents modeled righteousness and humility through their values, principles, and character. Those are still valid, desired characteristics for all citizenry, and especially for today’s leaders.

wheat shocks, grain fields

Amber fields of grain.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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Gale Hershberger is the people’s people person

Gale Hershberger by Bruce Stambaugh

Gale Hershberger has been president of the Winesburg Vol. Fire Dept auxiliary for 25 years.

By Bruce Stambaugh

When the fire pagers sound, Gale Hershberger listens up.

She’s not a firefighter, but over the years, many volunteer first responders have been glad to see her show up at a working fire.

Hershberger, 50, has been president of the Winesburg Volunteer Fire Department auxiliary for longer than she cares to remember. It’s actually been 25 years. She and a dozen other women make sure tired, thirsty, hungry and sweaty firefighters have the necessary nutritional supplies to keep them going.

Hershberger’s husband, Tim, is not a firefighter either. So what got her involved in the auxiliary? It’s her penchant to serve, and her people-person personality that causes her to head for the fire station at 3 a.m. on a cold winter’s night or on the most humid afternoon of the summer.

“I see a need,” Hershberger said, “and I like to help fix it.”

Hershberger said she learned early on the importance of helping others. The Dover native would accompany her mother volunteering at their church.

“I like to think that I am observant of what goes on around me,” she said. “I like to be here to help people.”

Indeed, that is exactly what Hershberger has done throughout her life.

For 18 years, she has worked as a teacher’s aide in the East Holmes Local School District. In addition to the fire department Serve them she has. Aside from the fire department auxiliary and the 4-H involvement, Hershberger is also a board member for the Holmes County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Hershberger sees that as natural fit for her and her fire department involvement.

“We were called to the Glenwood apartment fire in Millersburg with the auxiliary,” she explained. “Our first concern was providing for the needs of the firefighters, handing out water, Gatorade and snacks.”

Once the fire died down and the mop-up began, Hershberger automatically switched into the Red Cross mode and began assisting the fire victims. That’s just how she is.

“I feel I don’t do that much,” Hershberger said modestly. “There are people who work at much bigger, better things than me.”

But her efforts don’t go unnoticed. The volunteer firefighters have come to know that if Winesburg is on scene, the auxiliary and the needs they fill will be there, too.

“If the guys go, we go,” Hershberger said simply.

Hershberger received the 2009 4-H Alumni of the Year award. And recently she received a cute card of appreciation from a 4-H’er that meant a lot to her.

Hershberger also co-coordinates the Red Cross blood drive at Winesburg six times a year. The campaign is held in the Zion Reformed Church annex across the street from the fire station.

Like most volunteer fire departments, Winesburg (Paint Township) has its share of fundraisers. Of course, Hershberger can be found in the middle of all the efforts, whether it’s a chicken barbeque, auction, soup and salad supper, or pancake and sausage breakfast.

Hershberger said that over the years the auxiliary has been able to purchase the Jaws of Life, a heart monitor and new tables with money raised from fundraisers. Just ticking off that list brought a smile of satisfaction to Hershberger’s face.

Given what she has done with working for others, that smile may have been a peek inside her heart.

This story appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter.

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A private woman has a very public life

Lucille Hastings by Bruce Stambaugh

Books have always played an integral part of Lucille Hastings' life.

By Bruce Stambaugh

For someone who relishes her privacy, Lucille Hastings of Big Prairie, Ohio has led a very public life.

Perhaps that seemingly contradictory situation is because of her love for life long learning. Hastings has had this instinctive drive to share what she learns. In short, contributing personally and professionally to the community at large has been a way of life.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise for someone who has her major life concepts down pat. Her life has revolved around her personal faith and church fellowship, service to others, which includes family, friends and the larger community.

Having lived on a farm for most of her life, she heartily reveres the land as a true gift from God. To accomplish and enjoy all that, she also believes in healthy personal lifestyles.

“I do water aerobics three times a week,” she said. “I need to watch my weight.”

Once she began her own well-researched and devised low carbohydrate diet a dozen years ago, Hastings lost 100 pounds. She has continued to be very careful about what she eats.

“Physical and emotional health are very important,” she related. Hastings said that as much for herself as for the benefit of others.

Hastings is fastidious about everything she does. But some things in life have been out of her control.

Hastings retired in 1992 from West Holmes Local Schools after serving 34 years as the library/media director in charge of the district’s libraries. Since then, she has continued as a part-time educational library/media consultant to the district.

“I retired because Jim retired,” she said, referring to her late husband. He died in 2000. “I miss Jim,” she said wistfully, “but I worked through it.” They had been married for 43 years.

She still lives on the Hastings family farm, which is rented out to an area farmer. The farm’s old barn was burned several years ago when a string of arson fires hit Holmes and surrounding counties.

Lover of the land that she is, Hastings said she marvels at how the agriculture around her has changed over the years. She has a great appreciation for her neighbors.

“The Amish have gradually moved into our area because the land was cheaper,” she said. “They are simply wonderful neighbors.”

With her background in library, it should come as no surprise that she considers herself a very organized person. She attributes that trait to enabling her to be of service to the larger community.

“Services like libraries, schools and churches happen because people make them happen,” Hastings said. “They just don’t happen by themselves.” Given her life long service to the surrounding community, Hastings clearly has done her best to improve those services for the community at large.

Here is a sampling of the many positions in which Hastings has served. She was president of the State Library Board of Ohio. She served on the Holmes County Library board for 16 years, 10 of which she was president. She was chairperson of the Ohio Reading Circle board for 16 years. That volunteer position allowed her to donate $350,000 worth of Reading Circle books to the county and local school libraries.

Hastings is a member of the Ohio Director of Agriculture’s 12-person advisory committee for administration of Ohio’s $25 million Clean Air/Clean Water Fund for Farmland Preservation.

She was the first woman president of the Holmes County Farm Bureau, and she is the only woman Sunday school teacher at her church. She has taught Sunday school for 60 years, and she is chairperson of the Mission Ministry at Ripley Church of Christ. She was a member of the Holmes County board of elections for eight years.

Hastings good works haven’t gone unnoticed. She has been dooly recognized for her many efforts. She received the Martha Holden Jennings Outstanding Teacher Award in 1974. She was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007. That same year Hastings received the Outstanding Alumni Award from Kent State University, where she received her Master of Arts Degree.

Hastings has two sons. Joel lives in Dallas, Texas, and Sidney resides in St. Louis, Missouri.

“I feel like I have been blessed,” she said. “I have had some unique opportunities.” And because she made the most of those chances, the community has reaped the benefits.

That’s what happens when life long learning is generously and graciously shared.

This article appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter, August 30, 2010.

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