(2/2017) I have a shelf in my office with tokens from various events from my first term in office. There's a ribbon from the Apple Harvest Festival, a booklet from the 150th commemorations in Gettysburg, or the baseball from the first and only ceremonial first pitch I’ve thrown in a game. I’ve started to notice it filling up with funeral
service programs for business leaders, municipal officials, public officials, teachers, etc… Sometimes these are leaders I knew personally, other times they were leaders who I always respected but only had the chance to meet once or twice. This year my shelf became more personal - two people close to me passed away. One was a previous boss and the other a close
friend’s father. These two taught me the value of hard work and teamwork, lessons that have served me well as a public official. I would like to use my column this month to share a little about them and ask that you take a few moments to thank or remember those who have helped you throughout the years.
Robert "Reds" Hance, 55, of Fairfield passed away on November 23rd. While he was an Adams County resident, he spent most of his time in Emmitsburg, Maryland running the Carriage House restaurant. He grew up working in his family’s restaurants, but it is an oversimplification to say that is all he was. As the business grew, so did Reds’
involvement in his community. To put it simply, if the Carriage House had been in Frederick or Gettysburg, his passing would have been on the front page of the either paper. I could take all day writing about his commitment to his kids and family, especially his wife of 20 years Dana Lee Hance, but I would like to focus on how his work mattered beyond his own
Family restaurants are a microcosm of how the world should work. For people who have never worked in a restaurant, it is difficult to explain the sense of comradery that your team develops. To me, the parallels between a fast paced kitchen and County government as a tool for community prosperity are inescapable. There is a team working
together towards a common goal. There is always more work than can possibly be completed in the time given. Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Emergencies pop up, no matter how much endless planning and preparation there is. In the government and in the kitchen, your job is to serve the public and when there is a complaint, listen. In the end, when all the players
and pieces line up just right, there is also a deep and meaningful sense of accomplishment.
The first time I ran for Commissioner, one of the persistent slights against my candidacy was "He’s just a cook, what does he know about government." Reds’ always got a kick out of that. He accomplished so much in his community, simply by using the lessons of being a small business owner – more than most elected officials I know. Ask any
community leader in Emmitsburg, and they will back this up. The only difference is that he chose to operate in a smaller pond.
Col. Kurtz Miller, 96, was the father of a close friend. He passed away on December 26th in his cabin in the back woods of West Virginia. He served his country in the US military deployed three times in Germany during WWII, twice in Vietnam, and once in Laos. In Laos he served as the senior military attaché
during the critical years of 1967-68. Just as in the case of Reds, it would be an oversimplification to define Mr. Miller as just a distinguished veteran. I met him in high school, as the snoring "guard" in the living room, the one we had to sneak past because we came home too late. No matter if he heard us or not, the next morning was always the same. Breakfast
was on the table and the day’s work list was right beside it.
Upon retiring Col. Miller aspired to be a gentleman farmer, so he bought a farm close to General Eisenhower’s farm outside of Gettysburg. I cannot attest to his productivity as a farmer, but I can say that he found a way to motivate some pretty lazy teenagers.
For anyone who has worked on a farm, you know what I mean when I say, "the work is never done". For those who know me, I have a pretty short attention span. Well for Col. Miller, that just meant he gave us a longer list. We would spend Saturday’s mowing, painting rails, baling hay (not the driving the tractor part, but two kids standing in
the wagon catching bales and trying to stack them before the next one hit you in the back), burning trash, fixing the driveway, etc… It really never ended, except for those "right" sorts of days when the list was pretty much done, and the work day could be cut short to go fishing. For the most part Jesse and I weren’t very good fishermen, but it was his dad’s way
of giving us an A for effort. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the "list" of things that must be accomplished and to forget to take a break. Today, every now and then my wife and I play tourist and take the time to enjoy our community.
In the end I bring up these two gentlemen to illustrate that throughout our lives people influence us in subtle ways. At the times when I was close to these gentlemen, I saw them as simply a boss and a friend’s dad. Now upon their passing I am confronted with the reality that they were far more. Our lives and communities are filled with
these people. Every day I meet community volunteers improving our County, but too often their efforts go unnoticed. There just aren’t enough awards banquets or proclamations to account for everyone, so it falls to each of us to take the time and thank those that matter.
Reds Hance, thank you for your commitment to community and for teaching me the value of teamwork.
Col. Miller, thank you for your military service and for teaching me to stay on top of my lists.
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