For our 10th anniversary on July 28, Carol and I began an exploration of the Northeast 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 over 15 years lives in Geneseo.
Scott Ray is a emeritus professor in theatre and dance from the State University of New York in Geneseo, where he taught for 34 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, Texas for eight years.
Scott appeared on national television in 1957 as a featured drum major with his high school band in President Dwight Eisenhower's second inaugural parade. I don't remember the event because I was 3 years old but Dad talked about it from time to time. Scott also served as director and choreographer for "The Stephen Foster Story" outdoor drama in Bardstown, Ky., for 28 years.
He took us on a quick driving tour of the town and the college. 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 has been 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 US News and World Report.
The village of Geneseo, located on the eastern slope of the Genesee River valley, was established in 1790 by the Wadsworth brothers from Connecticut, and is the county seat of Livingston County. The brothers built mansions at both ends 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. He led his high school band in the parade honoring President Eisenhower, led "The Stephen Foster Story" for decades, and taught many students the art of theatre 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 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, "Tons of Stone above my head: Coal Mining Stories with Leadership Lessons," visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.