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The Passage

by Mark Singleton


The recent passing of Bernyce Crownover gave me occasion to reflect on the attributes of great leadership; a quality she bestowed to so many.  My appreciation for the unconditional love and support Bernyce had for her community lead me to think about all the other wonderful leaders we have depended upon that now that they are in their 70s and 80s are stepping down.  A vacuum of immeasurable experience will be apparent as a younger generation takes up the calling of community service.


Notable community volunteers such as Joe Jenkins, Hilda Chapman, Marcus Hickerson, Bernyce Crownover, Buck Jordan and so many others throughout Ellis County represent much more than their unselfish contributions, superb intelligence and management skills.  They also characterize an era of great changes that dramatically remolded the world.


In each community in Ellis County there are those in their mid-70s or older that are passing leadership roles to a younger generation of people generally in their 30s to mid-40s.  Therefore, when the retiring volunteers were in their 30-40s, it would have been the 1950s and 60s.


During those years technology was taking a major leap forward.  The first commercially built computer, optic fiber and gas-saving car, the VW Beetle, were introduced in the 1950s.  The laser, ATM and a process called “network gateways,” later to be known as the Internet, were first used in the 1960s.


Like the tremendous technology and social changes in 1950-70, new community leaders are experiencing the same explosion of innovation today.  The communication’s landscape is being changed with instant messaging and social networking.  We are in an age when hard decisions have to be made quickly because the wait-and-see approach will leave you in the dust.  I am sure our controlled chaos approach today drives elder leaders crazy.  Ironically, the new tools they had in the 1950-60s were just as befuddling to their elders.


Two facts in the passage of community leadership are vital to remember.  The first is that we would not have all the amazing innovative technology that is driving a new age of communications and enterprise without the leadership of those before us.


They made it possible to take advantage of this technology transformation and we are being entrusted as a younger generation to make it right.

And equally important is the second fact we should remember in this passage of community leadership.  It can be summed up in two words:  thank you.


I wish I would have expressed to Bernyce Crownover more times than I did that her leadership and great love for Ellis County were deeply appreciated.  But there is still time to relate our gratitude to all those others that led us into living in wonderful communities.  To Joe and Marcus, Hilda and Buck, and the many others in EllisCounty that have contributed their generosity and genius to preserve the character of life we enjoy so much, thank you.


Those of us that want to make contributions back to the communities in which we live are generally traveling so fast that stopping to appreciate the people that built the highway slips our minds.  It is something we should certainly do and pass on to the youth that will be following us.


Although we do not express our gratitude as often as we should, it does not mean we do not recognize the contributions older patrons have made.  You have built the foundation and given us the windows of opportunity.  Our job is to continue the building process, one brick at a time.  And, 30-40 years from now, hand the trowel to the next generation.