You are the Spark That Ignites the Blaze

“The Story of Farmer Fleming” came to Jerry from his good friend, Jim Miller. It is an excellent illustration for all of us who are in development. You don’t always know the impact, or recognize the impact you make on a person’s life. It is well to remember you are in the business of changing and saving lives. In your institution, you make things happen. You are the spark that ignites the blaze.

Here is Jim’s story. His name was Fleming and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming From a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying  death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman’s sparse surroundings. An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy that Farmer Fleming saved. “I want to repay you,” said the nobleman. “You saved my son’s life.” “No, I can’t accept payment for what I did,” the Scottish farmer replied, waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer’s own son came to the door of the family hovel. “Is this your son?” the nobleman asked. “Yes.” the farmer replied proudly.

“I’ll make you a deal. Let me provide him with a level of education my son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father he’ll no doubt grow up to be a man we can both be proud of.”

Farmer Fleming’s son attended at the expense of the nobleman, the very best schools. In time, he graduated from St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London. He went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the discover of Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph  Churchill. His son’s name? Sir Winston Churchill. Someone once said: “What goes around comes around.”

As we continue to search through Jerry’s “Box of Notes,” there will be more to come. Per Jerry Panas: “The greatest sin is to have a good impulse and fail to act on it.”

Jerry A. Linzy
Executive Partner, Emeritus, Jerold Panas, Linzy & Partners