The Torch Has Been Passed…a Long Time Ago!

Looking Back

Thank you, Michael Beckwith, for this wisdom. for I have been consumed with facts from my past 40 years, and more, for the last several days.  It is truly amazing to me how simple things that occurred in my 20’s are now returning to me in full force.  How can people who crossed your path in the past now play such a strong role in my path today.  It would be amazing if we knew then what we know now and if we would have been any different then towards the folks who remain with us forever…except we do not know that when we first meet them.  I am glad I treated them with kindness then…

what is even more unnerving is that so many of these folks have transitioned…

But today is NOW.  Yes, they remain with me; but, they are now looking out from their current existence at what I am doing, and where I am going.  The people who crossed my path and left an impression then and are making an even greater impression now are influencing decisions I am making.  Let’s just mention a few.

My father, Stanley J., had a vision of Lorain County, and I was lucky to have been taken there on day trips when I was very young.  Lorain, Ohio’s main street left an impression on my father, partially because of his short time working in the steel mills of Cleveland.  We would go on a sunny day for a road trip, fid places to eat ethnic food, and have a good day there.  Lorain was a great town then, and it is still a great town today.  Stanley J. liked ethnic places!

Many years later, newly married and living in Columbus, I worked with the Ohio Board of Regents.  The most memorable people I worked with were Dr. Max J. Lerner and Dwight Diller, a cousin by marriage to Phyllis Diller.  Max and Dwight worked together at Lorain County Community College where Max was the first President beginning in 1963.  He was a forward thinker for Lorain County, and he brought Dwight with him to be part of the development of two-year campuses in Ohio at the Regents.  I loved Dwight’s stories and Max’s quiet leadership style, more at home in Lorain than in the state government scene in Columbus.  Also with this group came Karen Pritts Parker, a graduate of Lorain County Community College, as an Administrative Assistant.  From what I know and have been able to ascertain with the help of the internet, Karen died at the age of 39 in Arizona, Dwight cannot be found on the internet, and Max died in 2013.  But they all created a picture of Lorain County that remains with me today:  leadership, education, humor, and simple beauty of a soul.

Not long after my time with the Board of Regents, with life interrupting in the form of family and the pursuit of my own education, I met J. Leonard Camera, Chairman of the Ohio House of Representatives Commerce and Labor Committee, Representative from the City of Lorain.  Many look at this as my beginning in politics.  But it was so far from that; I did not even now what party I was registered in.  I simply applied for a “government” job, was hired, and thus began a long time in government and politics.  But back to “Lenny”.  He was no more than 5 feet tall, but a powerhouse labor leader from a labor town called “Lorain”.    He had a dozen children–and they all left their own mark in Lorain County–and his wife, Laverne, who he called “Queenie”.  And he still loved her after all of their years together.  Lenny taught me about politics in Lorain, about family, and about the labor movement.

And then, I left Lorain County for Northeast Ohio, with my soon to be ex-husband.  There are no mistakes.  So much growth occurred in that time of my life.  1983, with a newly minted degree from Lake Erie College, two little boys, a new mortgage, a new car payment, and a divorce decree from a man who would some day become “Santa Claus”.  Enough of that.  

In 1983, I began an 8-year term as District Administrator for then Congressman Dennis E. Eckart, from Euclid, but whom I met in Columbus while on Lorain’s J. Leonard Camera’s House Commerce and Labor Committee staff.  In 1985-1986, upon the request of the Congressman, I began the exploration of my becoming a part of Leadership Cleveland which led to the creation with Marguerite Krueger, Jim Capitan, and Gus Gehring of Leadership Lake County through the tutelage of the then executive director of Leadership Lorain County, which had just recently started their own Leadership Program.  Once again, Lorain County played a mentoring role for me…while forgotten for several years.  

And then in 1997, as a bank manager for then Bank One, Cleveland, I was recruited to Lorain County for a position with Premier Bank & Trust.  Moving to Vermilion, I was living in the Lorain County area for the first time.  While I stayed there for 7 years, moving to Cuyahoga County when my mother was terminal in a nursing home, my involvement began but was not very deep.  But there I was in Lorain County, very different than when my father introduced me on our road trips to Lorain, so very different.  

But the pull of Lorain County was still there.  This time it was Oberlin, Ohio, and its community, its love of local food, and First Church.  I loved what Oberlin was doing through the College and the Oberlin Project focused on Sustainability.  I explored living there, but it was not to be until now.

I have found my intended landlord, I am back as a member of First Church, and I was ready to settle in to Oberlin to write, run my virtual coaching business, and be a part of the local community, quietly and liberally.  Now it was just waiting until February of 2017 when my lease would be up on my current home.  It was a plan, and God laughed and said “Oh, yeah?”

Yes, I am moving to Oberlin.  Yes, I will continue my business albeit in a different format, but my attorney began working on that weeks ago long before God made his plan known….I was meant to be an active member of the Lorain County community.  Now we will see how Max, Dwight, Karen, Lenny, and many more will influence my life moving forward…It took a lot of time, but they have had the time to look down and say “It is time, Jan”.  

janicelitterst@gmail.com

empowerexcellencewithjan.com 

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