If we're lucky or blessed in life, we have leaders and mentors who both inspire and love us. The good looking guy in the Scoutmaster's uniform standing to the right was one of those people for me. He was my grandfather, Leonard Eblin, who passed away last night at age 93. For many years, my grandfather was the scoutmaster of Troop Lucky 7 at First United Methodist Church in Huntington, WV. He also led numerous expeditions to the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico which is where this picture was taken.
One of my earliest memories from childhood is of desperately wanting to go on the Boy Scout trips with Pa-Pa. Of course, I was too young to go back then so my first step was to join the Cub Scouts when I turned eight. My Scouting career led to Eagle Scout, world and national jamborees, summer camp staff and lots of others opportunities for fun and to learn the art of leadership. A few years ago, I was going through some old mementos and found the staff binder for the Troop Leadership Development training program. As I looked through the materials, it hit me that a lot of the leadership foundations I built on as an executive and now as a coach were formed in Scouts. I owe that to my grandfather, his example and the desire that he created in me to be like him.
My grandfather was a servant leader. For him, it wasn’t about the glory or the accolades, it was about serving others. When he retired from Allied Chemical almost 30 years ago, he was asked to join the staff of the local bank where his job was to look after the needs of customers. In his spare time, he volunteered for the local Habitat for Humanity chapter where, in addition to building more than 50 homes, he enjoyed teaching the other volunteers the “right way” to do things. Until his body would no longer cooperate a few years ago, he organized monthly Sunday dinners for the residents of the Huntington City Mission.
The slogan of the Boy Scouts is “Do a good turn daily.” My grandfather embodied that idea throughout his life. Through his actions, he set a standard that I’ve aspired to throughout my life and one day hope to reach. Mother Teresa said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” That was how Leonard Eblin lived his life — one small thing after another and always with great love. Quietly, humbly and with good humor he made a difference in the lives of thousands of others. Other than expressing my thanks for the gift of his life, I don’t know a better way to end this post than with the grace he recited so many times with all the Scouts at Philmont:
For food, for raiment
For life, for opportunity
For friendship and fellowship
We thank thee, O Lord.
Rest in peace, good Scout. See you on the trail.