‘If you want something done, give it to a busy person.’
That old adage certainly applies to Ron Willard. He can move mountains. He’s already relocated several.
He was the first interim mayor of Clemmons and calmly guided the fledgling village government through its first year. He has led the PTA and his homeowners association. He has helped lead the very active Clemmons Rotary Club and served his church. He was an executive at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and the father of three very active children. But the biggest thumbprint he has left on Clemmons is the amazing YMCA.
When the experts said it couldn’t be done, Willard went all over Clemmons hustling for money. A professional study had estimated only $750,000 could be raised. Willard raised $1.6 million. The study said not many people would use the Y. Membership is now at 15,000. The Y has expanded four times.
The Jerry Long Family YMCA is the great Clemmons success story. The late Jerry Long was Willard’s boss at RJR and didn’t hesitate to assign his young executive near-impossible tasks. At Long’s behest, Willard moved that mountain.
Appropriately, he’s a fitness nut. He uses the YMCA. He runs and bikes and climbs mountains. He still has a young man’s waistline.
The achievements have been accompanied with some devastating blows. Ron’s beautiful wife Marilyn died of cancer in 2000. During her final weeks in the hospital, the three children slept on the floor surrounding her bed. Her memory has inspired another campaign to help the Cancer Services organization.
In this issue, our reporter Lynn Hall delivers a touching story about this community-minded, family-first pillar of Clemmons. He has been a builder, a mover-and-shaker, and an engineer of many of the best aspects of this village.
“I think my gift is bringing people together,” he says.
Some wonderful things have happened when Willard has united us.
Also in this issue we look at the gifted Cade Carney, the Wake Forest University sophomore running back who plows through defenses for the Deacons. For three years, West Forsyth Titan fans grimaced as the sure-handed Carney carried the ball for Davie County. He has moved on to the college ranks while wearing Wake Forest’s gold and black, scoring six touchdowns as a freshman.
He also carries a deep faith with him. He routinely tapes a Bible verse to his uniform, and he posts religious messages on Twitter. With so many college and professional athletes getting in trouble, Cade Carney holds to his faith as tightly as he clutches the football.
We’ve also found a praline man among us. That story is inside. And we have a WFU chemistry professor who tends honey bees at home.
This marks our sixth issue, and we’ve been delighted by your warm reception.
Editor, Clemmons the Magazine