Gerrit Kouwenhoven was a gentle man who also knew when it was time to step forward and fill a leadership vacuum. For many years he was at the helm of the efforts to preserve and grow Hildene, now one of the area's best known attractions.
It's safe to say that without him, it probably wouldn't exist today, certainly not in its present robust form. But Gerrit was involved in many other local institutions, the First Congregational Church, Long Trail School and Merck Forest being among them, and he was also a visible presence at many other community events, serving to advance one worthy cause or another in his soft-spoken, but determined way.
When he perceived a task that was there that needed doing, he stepped up. It's an example hardly unique to him from around this neighborhood, but it was one that he never shirked from.
He'll be missed.
Brooks Brown offered an example of leadership in the word of business. Almost 30 years ago, he saw a vacuum in the world of radio for cutting edge, but commercially accessible music.
Breaking from the standard format of the time, he launched WEQX, whose format focused on what was new, what was fresh, and what was not necessarily driven by the tastemakers of "corporate rock." He not only built a break-the-mold radio station, but by basing it in Manchester helped fuel the boom around the area that made Manchester well-known within the range of its 50,000 watt transmitter - which was a long way.
Brooks was also a "hands on" sort of guy who didn't object to getting his hands dirty when it came time to fixing a technical problem or repairing something. He even helped construct the station's transmitter when it was being installed atop Mt. Equinox.
Music fans got to hear "Manchester" a lot as they listened far and wide to EQX, and that was a big deal back then. It still is today.
In time, new pioneers and leaders will step forward to replace both men. It's fair to say, however, that in their time, when it was their turn, both Gerrit and Brooks heard and answered the call to service and action.
We should be grateful to have had them among us for as long as we did.
Andrew McKeever is the managing editor of the Manchester Journal.
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