As I move into this first holiday season without Everett, I find myself grateful for the deep imprint his life left on me and on everyone around him. From his siblings, children and grandchildren, to our work family here at Tigrett Corp., to people he encountered in our Gettysburg community, not a day goes by where someone does not share with me a story of how Everett touched someone’s life. A teacher through-and-through, Everett believed we learn best through colorful role models to emulate. What better way to honor his memory than to share some leadership lessons from his life?
Always Be Curious. Everywhere we went, Everett asked questions. He would strike up conversations with people in grocery store lines and restaurants, while taking walks around our neighborhood, and with students in leadership classes we taught over the years. While I would stand quietly, content to wait in silence for our turn at the register or a class to begin, Everett would use the time to learn more about the people around him. Many times, we would enter a restaurant, give our names to the maître d’, and Everett would ask how business was going. Instead of simply nodding at the response and pushing to get to our table, Everett would encourage the person to share, and would pepper the conversation with questions designed to coax out more of the story. Fascinating tales would roll out in front of us, and by the time dessert arrived, we had not only made a new friend, but we’d learned something we didn’t know before. Everett believed everyone has something valuable to teach, and his genuine curiosity and desire to learn more about the people he encountered opened doors to new ideas and sparked learning journeys we might not have otherwise encountered.
Listen Completely. When Everett and I would attend a cocktail reception or business function, we usually split up and tried to meet as many people as possible. I would charge around the room looking for some spark of interest but would quickly grow bored and gravitate toward the buffet, rather than conversation. When I eventually met up with Everett, I would find him surrounded by a group of people, all talking animatedly, while he stood in their center, nodding, smiling and listening. I remember asking myself how our experiences with people could be so wildly different. How did Everett put people so at ease, and inspire such openness? I watched, and found that he began by asking a question, then looking the person straight in the eye while the new friend answered. Everett didn’t fidget or look over his shoulder. He didn’t graze on hors d’ oeuvres or sip wine. He gave the speaker his entire focus, and in return, the new friend responded with enthusiasm.
People matter more. As a banker and commercial lender, Everett had always encouraged people to share their stories—their successes and difficulties, their dreams and goals—as he guided them toward financing decisions. Rather than looking simply at numbers, Everett took the time to consider and explain how each financial possibility would impact the business and the people attached to it so the business owners could make the best decision, whether or not it was the most profitable for the bank. When Everett had to turn down a loan request, he didn’t simply send the business owners on their way, but he spent a considerable amount of time talking with them—explaining, with patience and kindness, why a loan was not the best idea, and guiding them toward what they might do, instead. His people-over-profit approach made a difference, and years later, customers still returned to the bank to seek him out and thank him for helping them know it was not the right time for a loan, and for caring enough to guide them in a new direction.
Everett touched many lives. As 2021 draws to a close, and 2022 peeks over the horizon, I can see a year marked with memories and with joy over the profound and lasting ways Everett improved everyone around him. Change is hard. As I read over the words of this letter, though, I can’t help but smile. Everett is still teaching me how to be a leader. And, I am still listening.
Everett was passionate about our leadership training business, and he derived so much pleasure in seeing people “turned on” by history and inspiring role models. No words can express our sadness at his loss, or our gratitude for the years we had together. We will honor his memory by continuing the work he began, and by standing behind his belief that everyone has the capacity to be a great leader.
As a tribute to Everett and his love of education and history, we have set up a memorial fund for a section of the new history museum of the Adams County Historical Society. We plan to name the World War II section of the museum in his honor.
If you would like to honor Everett with a donation, you may contact the historical society online (www.achs-pa.org) and specify that your gift is in memory of Everett Ladd; or you may also write to the society at: Adams County Historical Society, 368 Springs Avenue, Gettysburg, PA 17325.
From all of us at Tigrett Leadership Academy – thank you for making us part of your team! We wish you the happiest holiday season and the most productive new year!