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Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

Cassville's Citizen of the 20th Century

Thursday, November 29, 2007

This week, we are running a guest editorial written by John Babb, a Cassville native who now serves as Assistant Surgeon General of the United States. Babb, the son of B.F. and Eleanor Babb, sent this commentary to me following the death of one of his heroes, a man who gave much to the community of Cassville and its youth. We appreciate Mr. Babb's thoughts and his willingness to put those thoughts on paper for our readers to enjoy. - Lisa Schlichtman, editor

An exceptional son of Cassville died last week. Charles Vaughan was 80 years old. Charlie was born and raised in this town, graduated from high school here, then from Southwest Missouri State (now Missouri State University), then taught school in local rural schools and became a Rural School superintendent. But his vocational achievements are only a small part of the story.

In 1957, Cassville needed a scoutmaster. The local troop had not produced an Eagle Scout since 1946. Membership was sadly lagging, and enthusiasm was hard to find among the troop's members. Fortunately, several local dads turned to Charlie Vaughan, asking that he become the scoutmaster of Troop 76, and thus began 50 years of volunteer service to this community.

The fact that in those 50 years, Troop 76 had 78 Eagle Scouts, puts the Cassville troop among the elite, top 1 percent of American Boy Scout Troops. But that statistic is only a fraction of what happened. In 50 years, almost 1,000 boys from Cassville and the surrounding area were members of Troop 76. Between 200 and 300 of those boys were given an opportunity to lead other boys -- as patrol leaders, assistant patrol leaders and den chiefs. Think of that -- boys from 11 to 15 having a chance to experience the trials and tribulations of leadership in the field.

Then there were the dads -- they came to the meetings just to see what it was that their sons were so excited about. And they often stayed as assistant scoutmasters and helpers. Charlie had the unique gift to make everybody around him a better person. The boys became better boys, the dads became better dads, and all became better citizens.

Some of Charlie's scouts became scoutmasters themselves, thus extending Charlie's reach to hundreds and thousands of other boys in other towns and states. Many of us are the proud parents of sons who also became Eagles. Some of us have seen a third generation in our families get involved in Scouting -- all extended beneficiaries of Charlie's leadership and public service.

To say that Charlie took his boys "camping" is simply an understatement. What he did was use camping to teach us reverence and respect for the outdoors, give us the knowledge that we could be self-reliant even in harsh conditions, and the realization that teams -- even teams of boys -- could accomplish things we had not thought possible.

I must ask - how much better a place is this community because of the volunteer public service of Charles Vaughan? How many boys later reached their potential because Charles Vaughan believed in them? How many father/son relationships were solidified under his watch? If you reflect back on the 50 years of public service of this man, does any citizen of this community even come close to contributing as much?

It is with this in mind that I recommend to you that Charles A. Vaughan should be proclaimed as Cassville's Citizen of the 20th Century. No one else is even a close second.

Guest Editor: John Babb, Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. and Eagle Scout, 1960, Troop 76.