When we lose a Leader
David Perkins was definitely a hot leader, a man who willed things to happen, whether it was moving a 2,000 lb. bull or serving on one of the many civic and agrarian committees to which he volunteered his time. He always had his eye on how to get straight to the results. As he drove his tractor by my window every morning, he easily made the machine look small under him. From the first, I was warned that David was not a man to cross lightly.
Early on, I encountered him, along with an army of volunteer firemen, up at the stonewall dividing one of his haying fields from mine. We had all just put out a brush fire ignited accidently by an intentional burn on my side of the wall. If left unchecked, the flames could have threatened David’s house and outbuildings. His face showed no emotion as I approached him. The others, who had known him much longer than me, froze in anticipation of how he might react, given what had almost occurred.
“Well David,” I asked,”is it true that the tradition here in town is for newcomers to set fire to their neighbor’s hayfield in order to better make their acquaintance?”
At first, he remained stone-faced. Then, without warning he reared back and roared in laughter. “No, this is great. For once I’m not the one getting in trouble for setting fire to something!” Hot leaders savor being pushed back even as they push others. Most people fail to understand they heat things up to engage and learn about others, not to intimidate for its own sake.
David worked hard every day, was loyal to his ‘morning coffee buddies’, played extra hard with his five grandchildren and continued to occasionally scare others with the size of both his person and his persona. He was a kind and gentle man and a true leader in his field. He died unexpectedly two days ago. I miss him very much.