By Ezan Bagdasarian
How many people can go through life knowing that they have left a profound positive influence on thousands of individuals?
Jack C. Anthony, the former director of Cradle Beach Camp, can. For over 35 years, Jack devoted himself unselfishly to the task of having a positive and lasting influence on the campers who came from the inner city of Buffalo and campers who came to the camp because they were physically challenged.
Under Jack’s guidance, the integration of campers from diverse racial, social and ethnic backgrounds mixed well with the campers who were physically challenged. He and Cradle Beach Camp have done what most people would say was not doable. Jack set the tone to make Cradle Beach Camp the great camp that it is today.
Whenever a camper had an issue, whether it was from being homesick, difficulty in relating to other campers, being quarrelsome and aggressive or difficulty dealing with a disability, Jack was always there to counsel and ameliorate the issue.
Jack always listened, an important key to understanding. He was always committed and faithful to his calling, and a strong foe to injustice.
Jack exhibited a sense of humor enjoyed by all. His goal as camp director was not only for the campers to have fun in their activities but also to create an environment of hope, optimism and personal responsibility for the campers to carry home with them when returning to an environment perhaps not to their choosing.
Jack taught campers that life’s challenges could be met and overcome with a little patience, understanding and taking pride in who you are, regardless of perceived handicaps.
As a teenager, I was fortunate to have Jack as my counselor. My life was changed for the better with his guidance and friendship.
Jack had me on his staff and later as a full-time volunteer. My 23 years at Cradle Beach, from camper to staff member, were a very fulfilling part of my life. That fulfillment is what we call “the Cradle Beach Spirit” and embodied in Jack Anthony.
On June 3, Jack passed away in a local hospice. His noble qualities were a beacon to guide him throughout his life.
The thousands of campers and staff who were fortunate enough to know him carry him in their hearts. At times, no one can know his or her self worth until it is shown him or her by a sincere and caring person.
Jack Anthony, a man of humility and compassion, was always that person. If there were more Jack Anthonys in the world today, then perhaps we could truly find peace on earth, good will to men.
Ezan Bagdasarian, of Gainesville, Va., is a former Cradle Beach camper and staff member.