Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lessons from a 'Dream Team'

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lessons from a 'Dream Team'

Article excerpt

Among my fondest farewell moments in Salem, Ore., was a snack with three wise men:

A restaurateur.

A Realtor.

A retired auto dealer.

Of course, they went beyond simplistic characterizations. Words resonate visually and perceptively, and the three wise men could challenge a dictionary to define them and their meaning to the Salem community.

Konditorei is among Salem's best-known restaurants, where Chocolate Fudge Truffle and Champagne Raspberry cakes ooze with a decadence familiar to Zagat-savvy Sarasotans. The owner, Gerry Frank, is known as Oregon's First Citizen, a prominent author, businessman, philanthropist and political adviser who exudes good will.

Byron Hendricks, president and principal broker at Prudential Real Estate in Salem, has sold aircraft and turned around small businesses, and he could talk shop with Sarasota Yacht Club members. His resume, though, doesn't begin to cover the nonprofit boards and social service initiatives he's helped during his lengthy service to Salem.

And then there's the self-described used-car salesman. It's always been cause for a chuckle in Salem, because Dick Withnell doesn't work the lots; he works the community and state. When I first met Dick, his arm was in a sling from a crash on the basketball court. He charges hard, and doesn't give up.

I was humbled. Three of Salem's prominent residents, wishing me the best while sharing crackers, fruit and Gerry's famous turkey salad spread.

The conversation turned to the challenges facing Salem and the question of community leadership.

Just as quickly, the answer turned to Mike McLaran.

No one would begrudge the three wise men the right to sail into the sunset -- or at least the San Juan Islands. They had the means to retire; they chose to stay involved.

Add in former Mayor Janet Taylor, and you had Salem's version of the Fab Four -- four leaders you could dial up at any time, knowing they were dialed in on the major issues facing Salem.

Mike made it a Dream Team. He was the star point guard. And as the youngest of the group at age 53, his future defined Salem's future.

The Salem Area Chamber of Commerce's former executive director recently started his own business, which was deeply involved in pushing education reform through performance models. …

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