In most places there are extraordinary ordinary people. They work behind the scenes. They don’t seek fame, fortune, or even recognition. They just do things with excellence so the rest of us can enjoy simple pleasures, such as hiking in our magnificent mountains here in Roanoke without thinking about how these trails came to be. Witness one extraordinary ordinary person here in Roanoke, a man named Bill Gordge.
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In praise of Bill Gordge: an extraordinary individual
The Roanoke Valley owes much to Bill Gordge.
He founded Physicians to Children and went on to forge
“The Mid-week Crew” of volunteers who build hiking
and biking trails much to our liking throughout the Valley
and beyond. We owe much to this “Aussie” who sallied
well beyond mere retirement
to form an entire establishment
of dedicated people who work for free
so you and I can hike, bike, and flee
to the wondrous mountains that encircle us.
It’s given to us in trust
for succeeding generations on end.
These trails are for us to send
into the future. He asks no credit
but we are all in his debit
for seeing how much we enjoy our trails.
Most of you don’t know how much it entails
to get these trails on our maps.
Trails do not materialize without work that caps
months of careful planning,
decades. Constructing trails takes time as well:
about a thousand man-hours per mile,
mostly with hand tools of proven worth.
The trails emerge with slow births.
Through forest, brush, and briars
works of landscape art.
They become part
of the land. We use it to advantage:
carefully, lovingly to manage
the work so it escapes your notice.
The route is carefully sought out.
Its route does not shout
out “Here’s the way!”
Pathfinders like Bill
seek out a plan that fulfills
an aesthetic sense, past natural features
that we and natural creatures
of the forest such as mice, bears, and deer
also might employ
as “highways” to enjoy.
Bill’s now about ninety-four,
with many more years, we hope, in store.
He exemplifies the extraordinary “ordinary” man.
Thank him and his Mid-week Crew however you can.
Always carry out what you carry in:
littering is a cardinal sin.
Ron Reese, Roanoke
Reese is a volunteer trail-builder on the Appalachian Trail. He lives in Roanoke.