The timing was – shall we say? – timely.

At a local event earlier this year, after a little small talk, a prominent local leader said he wanted to visit with us at the Morning News. What a coincidence. We wanted to talk to him, too.

Minutes later, he walked in, sat down and answered all of our questions. Our last question: What is it that you wanted to talk to us about?

This wasn’t small talk. The leader wanted to talk about leadership. He is pleased with the recent past, delighted with the present but worried about the future.

Who is ready to step up in our next generation of leaders?

We grinned, because we had just been talking about that as we planned this special section. We frowned, because we share this leader’s concern.

Where would our thriving community be without the extraordinary leaders we have? Let me name a few: S.C. Sen. Hugh K. Leatherman Sr., Francis Marion University President Fred Carter, Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela, Florence County Councilman James Schofield, Florence City Manager Drew Griffin, Dr. Eddie Floyd, Florence Mayor Pro Tempore Buddy Brand, Florence One Schools board member Porter Stewart … and did I mention Fred Carter?

Of these community architects, only Wukela is in the prime of his life.

Leatherman recently celebrated his 88th birthday, but he is remarkably spunky, and he recently announced that he will run for re-election in 2020. That is news to celebrate.

As for the others, who knows how much longer they will continue to lead?

With that in mind, let’s take a moment to reflect on what a difference each has made in moving Florence forward.

Now let’s pause and fret about the void that could be left if many of these leaders bow out soon.

Remarkably, the same people who were around to put Florence’s first comprehensive plan together have been around to execute that plan, and the success speaks for itself. These same leaders will start to work soon on a new comprehensive plan for the next 10 years, but new leaders will come along to execute the plan.

Will that work? Time will tell.

Timing is everything.

Don Kausler Jr. is regional editor of the Morning News. Contact him at 843-317-7250 or by email at dkausler@florencenews.com.

Donald Kausler is the regional editor of the Morning News.

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