Gray demonstrates servant leadership


Alice and Priscilla Circle Sister Gloria Macatrao hold the quilt made by the Priscilla Circle and presented to Alice as a thank you gift for her service. Each member signed their name by the caricature which best represents themselves. Photo by Pat Van Dyke

Leadership takes various forms and styles. Perhaps one of the most difficult leadership styles to put into practice is that of “Servant Leadership.” For the past decade, Canyon Laker Alice Gray has called the members of the Canyon Lake Community Church (CLCC) Priscilla Circle to servant leadership by asking the question, “How can we help?” whenever she learns of a need in her community.

Alice and her husband Jack moved from their home of 39 years in Orange, California, to Canyon Lake in 2002. While living in Orange, both Alice and Jack were very involved in community work along with their career choices.

As an educator during one of the many times when funds for education were limited, Alice found herself on the “front lines of education” defending the necessity of music as part of the curriculum in her local schools. Her love of music could be witnessed by the 18 years that she was the vocal music director for El Modena High School along with 28 years as kindergarten through twelfth grade music educator.

It was at one of the meetings of the Board of Education of Fountain Valley and the necessity of a music department was being discussed that Alice walked up to the podium and stressed the fact that “music is a fundamental and not a frill.”

In order to help fund the music department at McPherson Junior High School in Orange, Alice spearheaded various fundraisers, including selling pottery at the Orange County Fair, selling ads for the K-9 musicals, hosting Madrigal Dinners, along with many other opportunities to raise funds to enable the students to experience amazing activities.

Alice’s most remarkable opportunity was when her students were chosen to sing at the Opening Day of the 1986 World’s Fair Exhibition in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Under Alice’s leadership and much parental involvement, a vast amount of monies was raised so that each student’s travel and lodging were totally funded.

While residents in Orange, Alice pursued her education and career, while Jack was active in the YMCA, Red Cross, Rotary Club, Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast and the Christian Business Men’s Connection. It was during this time that he was honored by being named Orange’s Citizen of the Year.

As they began to look at their retirement years, they found themselves drawn to Canyon Lake by several of the many amenities with boating and golfing high on their list. Soon, Canyon Lake was their home.

Alice and Jack “hit the road running” when they became part of the Canyon Lake community. Alice joined the Canyon Lake Chair Volleyball Club and proudly was part of the team the year in which it earned a gold medal. Jack immediately began making an impact in the golfing community and formed the Men’s Golf Fellowship.

Jack’s involvement also includes his time spent serving on the Church Council at CLCC. In turn, Alice began a new women’s circle which was named after the church organist, Priscilla Colwell.

Alice has inspired her fellow Priscilla Circle sisters to be aware of the many elderly people in the Canyon Lake community who live alone or with a caregiver and would love a time of fellowship.

With that thought in mind, Alice and her “sisters” began the PLAN (People Living Alone Now) Luncheon. This free event ministers to people in the Canyon Lake community and beyond.

Alice and Jack are examples of true “Servant Leadership,” a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. It is not a coincidence that Alice’s project for her master’s degree from California State University Fullerton which was entitled “Servant Leadership” was based on the leadership model that Jesus demonstrated so many centuries ago.

But “all good things must come to an end.” Due to health issues, Alice has passed the leadership of Wonders of Christmas, the PLAN Luncheon and Priscilla Circle to other amazing leaders. All the events will continue to inspire and benefit many in the Canyon Lake community.

What are Alice’s plans for the future? Perhaps it was best stated years ago. In 1955, underneath Alice’s senior picture on the pages of the Munich American High School yearbook (Munich, Germany) she listed her future plans as “to make Jack happy.”

Now, almost 65 years later, her plan is the same only that now she adds: “and to live out the mission statement of the Priscilla Circle ‘Rise in the presence of the aged. Show respect for the elderly and revere your God, I am the Lord.’” Leviticus 19:32.


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Pat Van Dyke