our Senior Citizens

Ralph “Red” SpinelliThere are two schools of thought on leaders.  Those who say leaders are born and those who believe they are made.  Perhaps the only thing the two schools can agree on is that you know a true leader when you see one. 

This month I met “that” man, the man who others call a true leader because of the natural and acquired skills he has amassed to make a difference in this community.  His name is Ralph “Red” Spinelli.

So what makes him a leader?  On the surface from looking at his resume you might believe it is because of the acquired skills he developed over his lifetime through his education and in the military and in private practice.  Ralph is a Veteran, having served in the Navy and assigned to Search and Rescue efforts.  During his time in the military he acquired and fine tuned his ability to communicate effectively and persuasively and to motivate others and make decisions quickly for the betterment of himself and those on his team.   Upon his honorable discharge from the Navy he enrolled at a small Endicott college in 1956 named Harpur College, or what is now known as Binghamton University.

Ralph’s GI bill paid for his education and upon graduating he received a Bachelors in Economics.  Like other great graduates of this fine college, he made a name for himself in the business world as a man who would have a profoundly positive effect on our community and our economic development.  Starting as an advertising salesperson for Ruben Donnelly’s Yellow Pages he later started his own employee benefits practice called the Bay Ridge Group and sold insurance and investment management services to small businesses. Ralph had a vision to create new opportunity in this area and worked strategically to make it happen.  He led from the front and was a true facilitator to his team . . . motivating them to do their best and to make a difference.  “We bought the Endwell House restaurant and turned it into our office. We had 35 employees and the business flourished. This was a strong economic area.”   Ralph’s company did so well in fact that he was able to sell it in 1995 and retire.

So that’s Ralph on paper.  But I met the man and from that encounter, I have to believe he is one of those men that is born a leader.  He has this charismatic personality that attracts others to him.  He isn’t afraid to reach out to others and network to get things done.  He sees the whole picture and knows how to fit all the little pieces in to have meaning and a lasting effect.  And in the time I spent with him I realized the idea of him being retired is a myth because he is still very active in this community.  And it seemed no matter where I went whenever I mentioned his name to others I found that they already knew him or knew of him and deeply respected him.

Ralph thank you for being a Senior that is a role model for others and for being one more reason this is a great place to live.