Remembering Herb Lanford… Many of you may not have known Herb. In truth, I didn’t know Herb before working with him on the NRA’s Clubs and Associations Committee. In fact, I wasn’t familiar with the majority of the NRA board members at that time years ago. I was, however, humbled and excited to be selected as a committee member of what I believed and still do believe is one of the most crucial committees NRA has – Clubs and Associations. That excitement carried through to the first meeting I attended.
Herb wasn’t a man of large stature. I think I might have been a full foot taller than him. Picture a small thin man, with a distinct southeastern accent, and a shiny pair of cowboy boots… You’ve got that picture now, don’t you? Herb was continually well-spoken, a skilled orator, and based on his vocabulary, seemed to know most of the Merriam-Webster dictionary. He was polite to a fault and had a way of addressing everyone that invited them into his invisible sphere. Herb was a welcoming man, and I don’t ever recall anyone thinking otherwise.
I assumed I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the committee. Instead, I found a different atmosphere. Herb ran a structured meeting. He offered meticulous practice of Robert’s Rules of Order and led with precise action. There was no melee of verbal judo. At first, I was put off by our speed and the exact nature of the work. This caused a strained relationship with Herb. We were very cordial, but I could tell he wasn’t enthusiastic about the “new guy” and his go, go, go, approach to everything. I often have that impression on people, and I’ve come to realize, I too, can be an acquired taste.
After some time and reflection, I decided to watch more and run my yap less. …Which is what I should have done in the beginning. To Herb’s credit, he could have easily made arrangements to have me removed. After all, Herb was the chair of that committee and had been for many years. But, he didn’t. Over time and discussion with Herb, both in group and private arenas, I came to appreciate Herb. He was continually decent and kind. He didn’t allow things to spiral out of control, did a good job of herding all of the kittens, and ultimately was passionate about the protection of the Second Amendment. Much like this country’s founders, Herb chose to measure twice and cut once. He never wanted to shortcut anything – it was too important. Herb Lanford would strive to make sure we were making the best possible decisions possible.
I remember one time we had a problem with a state association in the Midwest. There was a communication barrier and we’d had all kinds of trouble getting to the bottom of some simple things. What did Herb do? On his own time and dime, he flew from his home in SC to the Midwest, rented a car, and drove to the person’s home in charge. They sat down, had a great conversation, and all was well moving forward. I remember thinking at the time how few people would do that. Most would hand over that problem to somebody else, rely on the same things that weren’t working, and tell themselves that they tried. Not Herb. It was important, had gone on long enough, he knew it, and he handled it with poise and purpose. I have grown a tremendous respect for Herb. While we may not have always agreed on the nature of change and how to best achieve it, I always felt secure with his motivation.
I’m still serving on the Clubs and Associations Committee and I love it. Our committee helps many people in many ways and I’m proud to be a small part of something so very important. My view of the committee and its purpose have morphed over time, and I have Herb to thank for that in no small part. Frankly, I grew up a little bit over this period with these fellow committee members, and have learned more than I can relate under Herb’s guidance.
Join me in thanking Herb, one last time, for his continual work. I hope to catch up to him on the other side.