The leaders of tomorrow often get an early start

For our 10th anniversary on July 30, Carol and I began an exploration of the northeast United States with the farthest point being Bar Harbor, Maine. We enjoyed the entire trip and found our time together renewed us.

At the end of our first day’s drive, we stopped at a bed and breakfast in Geneseo, New York, located in the Finger Lakes region south of Rochester. A first cousin I had not seen for more than 15 years lives in Geneseo.

Scott Ray is an emeritus professor in theater and dance from the State University of New York in Geneseo, where he taught for 33 years. Scott is the son of my Uncle Joe and Aunt Jettie. I have written several articles about Uncle Joe, who was my dad’s youngest brother and served as president of the University of Texas at El Paso for eight years.

Scott appeared on national television in 1956 as a high school band major in President Eisenhower’s second inaugural parade. I don’t remember the event because I was three years old but dad talked about it from time to time. Scott also served as director and choreographer for the Stephen Foster Story in Danville, Kentucky for about 25 years.

He took us on a quick driving tour of the town and the university. Both were impressive. The college has a lot of new buildings, teaches about 5,000 students and is considered New York’s public honors college. The school was listed as one of the 49 best-buy schools in 2012 by the Fiske Guide. It also has been placed high on lists by The Princeton Review and U.S. News and World Report.

The city of Geneseo was established in 1790 by the Wadsworth brothers from Connecticut. They built mansions on both sides of Main Street and recruited and assisted others to build the town between them.

After the tour, Scott took us to a seafood restaurant on the banks of Lake Conesus. We ate outside under a tent with lights twinkling across the lake. Scott told us about the tradition of the Ring of Fire, which occurs every July 3 with the lighting of hundreds of flares around the lake creating a spectacular view.

The town, the college and the past and present residents fascinated me as such sights and people often do when I travel. The Wadsworth brothers were leaders who had a vision of creating a home in what was a wilderness. They attracted other pioneers to join them and build a farming community to produce crops and sell them back east.

I especially enjoyed spending a few hours with Scott. He, too, is a leader in his field, teaching many students the art of theater and dance. When young people begin their careers, they often have little idea what leadership opportunities await them. We should be glad so many of them have stood up to the challenge and will do so in the future.

R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray’s new book, “And my Brother Jack: Everyday Leadership Lessons,” visit his website raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears on the Business page.


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