|Banker and father figure to what makes Johnson County great: Ben Craig.|
Legendary Johnson County leader Ben Craig died this week. The STAR did a great profile of him, which is attached at the end.
Here's my takeaway:
When a sensational leader dies, many may lament, "They don't make them like Ben any more. Who will take his place?"
To me, that's a copout. What was the whole point? Did we learn nothing? Everyone of us can take smaller steps that make a difference in having a livable community.
Let's not park our past in our future--
or the present.
If you have a good idea--do something today about it. Phone someone. Have a cup of coffee, like Ben Craig often did. Praise someone. Encourage someone. Write a small check or volunteer an evening or weekend day to support SOMETHING you believe in.
The other thing I'd say is: Show up. That's a huge lesson from Ben Craig.
He belonged to Rotary. This was something I wish I'd done, but my emergency line of work called me away to someone's home so often that I didn't have lunch on time or had to skip it entirely about 2/3 of every day of my 60+ year career.
Rotarians are big on JUST SHOWING UP to their weekly meetings! No excuses. It's a practice that they promote, because it leads to so many other qualities that get things done in your town. Well, Ben Craig had a perfect attendance record for 49 straight YEARS. Not weeks, years!
The Rotarians do allow make-up sessions at other chapters within the week if you must miss. (Kind of like twelve step groups. You are your word because you are then called upon to be extraordinary by going to visit another chapter's meeting to KEEP YOUR COMMITMENT.)
Now Ben Craig was playing for 50 years of perfect attendance. Who wouldn't?! So it was with a heavy heart that he came down with pancreatic cancer, and was given just 4 weeks to live. Ben got into action, before he went to hospice. He visited every civic group where he served on a board--to say goodbye!!! Isn't that neat? He got the chance to say goodbye, and he took it. I was there when he bid adieu to our Overland Park Historical Society.
And of course, when word got out that Ben was coming to his Overland Park Rotary chapter meeting, phones were busy calling every last member to show up to say goodbye to perhaps their greatest, most productive member ever. The room at the Marriott was overflowing. And so were the tears.
Sure, it's sad when a loved and respected one dies. But without death, without a deadline, many good things would not get acknowledged. We all die. Getting to say goodbye ahead of time is a bonus.
We live in a little heaven on Earth called Johnson County. Men (and women) like Ben Craig made it that way. By showing up. And doing the right things.
Rest in peace, Ben. You made a difference and will not be forgotten. You ran far ahead of most in the race. And we continue...one step at a time.
Roger the Plumber
Ben Craig profile in KC STAR