Tribute to a Leader
January 18, 2018
Throughout my years in Scouting, I’ve had many experiences and met many great people who I will never forget. I want to tell you about a recent experience with one of those great people that will stay with me forever.
Like many of us, he became a Boy Scout when he was a young boy and was instantly hooked. He went to Scout camp for the first time and loved it. In fact, he kept going back to camp for 50 consecutive summers. He became a Scoutmaster and over the course of 35 years in that position, almost 20 percent of the boys in his troop became Eagle Scouts. Through his years in Scouting, he changed hundreds of lives, maybe even thousands, and through those young men I believe he had a major impact on his community.
When I first met Mark, I’m not afraid to say I was somewhat intimidated by him. He sat at a camp leaders meeting, arms crossed, just staring at me. He looked tough and asked pointed questions. But as I got to know him over the next six-plus years, I got to know his love of Scouting, his camp, and his Order of the Arrow Lodge. They meant the world to him, and he took them seriously. Slowly, we developed a mutual respect through our belief in Scouting, and the importance of summer camp in a boy’s life. Then we became friends and eventually close friends.
This fall, Mark informed me that he was battling cancer. As he came to St. Louis for treatments, he would frequently stop by the office to visit, or call to let me know how he was doing. We always discussed camp and the need to preserve each of our Order of the Arrow Lodges. Then, just before Thanksgiving, I received a call from Mark’s wife telling me Mark was not going to make it, and that he wanted to see me. On the day he passed away, unable to speak due to his breathing tube, Mark wrote about his concern for Anpetu-We Lodge and Order of the Arrow. Later that week at his funeral, I was in awe at the outpouring of respect from Scouts, leaders, and former Scouts from all walks of life, spanning several decades, there to pay tribute to a simple man from Perryville, Missouri who believed Scouting changed lives and communities throughout southeast Missouri.
Mark reminded me of the power and value of Scouting, the importance of our local leaders, and that our local traditions matter. He set an example that we can all follow.
Thank you for your leadership of the Scouting program.
Yours In Scouting,
Scout Executive/CEO, Greater St. Louis Area Council