On the Corner

Fight on

by Bob Docter –

Dear Phil,

Happy trails, partner …

May your saddles always give you comfort, your fences never need mending, and your friends always ready to have your back and take you back.

Somehow, I’m positive your upbeat optimism, the intensity of your ability to focus and your remarkable skill in relating to people will continue to surmount any Florida hurricanes no matter from whatever direction they spawn.

I admit, I didn’t know you at the outset of our time together, but it didn’t take long. You are an “open” book, a “what you see is what you get” kind of a guy – immediately likeable, unassuming, approachable, and friendly. Even more, you’re perceptive and caring in your relationships with others. You seem to have more energy than a horse. You’re good for the distance.

I first saw you at the Tab in a welcome meeting. Your appointment seemed sudden, surprising – kind of out of the blue. And that’s just how we felt – blue. Nevertheless, part of the character of western people is to roll with the punches and make the best of what is. The Territory had recently been through some sudden and unexpected shifts in leadership. We appeared to be facing a severe economic downturn. Frankly, we were somewhat bewildered, and morale seemed somewhat depressed – clearly in a trough.

We needed a shot of resilience. You provided it.

Morale builder
Because you were empathic, you felt what we felt. You refused to dwell on negatives while not avoiding their reality. You showed strong commitment to us and continually described us as “the only Territory that matters.” Your positive nature began to build hope along with a feeling of confidence in the stability of helm.

Because of your Texas-size heart you first felt and then sensed the need in the Territory. You enjoyed playing the “down-home,” role, used the word “hoot” a lot to describe something great, and came off as somebody in chaps just in from punchin’ cattle. You might have been a “hoot,” but you sure weren’t a “hick.” You drew people in and then introduced them to the precise nature of your brain. You clearly had a vision, a point of view of what was needed here in the West and inspired people to “go for it.”

You really enjoy people and give them nick-names which you use freely. On occasion, I was your “cub reporter,” and I enjoyed it. You are clearly a people person who knows how to relate. You once said: “The strength of the Western Territory is its people – it’s most important asset.” Clearly, you love people. You are not a detached, distant, domineering, defensive kind of guy sitting alone in a large office behind a big desk and a closed door. I think you’re about as comfortable behind the desk as you are working on a computer. You’re just you. And that’s exactly the kind of leader we needed.

When you identified a goal for yourself and for soldiers of the Territory, it was not grandiose, not a beautiful, alliterative slogan, but a simple sentence expressed in a manner that inspired everyone. You loved the Army, and you simply wanted to work to “make it better.” Everyone could buy into that and those who heard you at that meeting and around the Territory in your indefatigable travels felt a shift in mood, a “can do” spirit, and wanted to get started. It wasn’t a dramatic campaign with prizes and posters or slogans and signs. Suddenly, everything started growing. I’m still trying to figure out how this happened with a group of people so low in the dumps who so quickly felt the magic of “hope” spring within them and press them to action. One thing I do know is that it had a lot to do with you.

Build a future
As you visited Crestmont and saw a session of 14 cadets, you knew immediately that we needed to start working. Over some questioning doubt, you built a new building to increase the college’s capacity to at least 100 cadets, and as you leave us you anticipate the fruits of your effort to be evident with the new session that will bring us close to that number. Approximately fifty new cadets will join the 46 members of the Ambassadors of Holiness session, so we’re filling up a new building you had already constructed by faith.

You sought to increase soldiership and over 7,000 new soldiers wear the uniform. Of all the countries embracing a western culture, this Territory has the best retention of officers. That says a lot about admissions standards as well as officer morale as you “keep the main thing the main thing.”

Despite severe economic stress you have seen us through to a point of financial viability. You are quick to point out, however, that money is not the end. It is simply a means to help achieve the end. The goal is people, and winning them for Christ.

Let’s remember, you weren’t alone in this ball game. Those who observed you closely had an awareness of “the power of Pat” in your life. We sensed there were ideas, feedback, sometimes non-verbal “looks,” and maybe even private discussions and planning that had an impact on your direction – both tactics and strategy. She thinks large and pushes hard.

Her unwavering certainty of her call to officership is exhibited in her devotion to Christ, the manner in which she encourages all she meets and the passion she demonstrates for women and families. She reveals limitless love for all.

She was certainly involved in your growth strategy with her WOW (Win One Woman) campaign. She inspired and energized our ministry to women in a way that fit beautifully into your effort to “make us better.” Her growth numbers might even exceed yours, and through her leadership, the West now is the number one women’s ministries program among all the American territories.

And so …
… ride on partner – vaya con Dios, amigo – may your road always be friendly, the sun soothing, and the wind at your back.

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