READING, PA – “Never underestimate the power of your character. You never know how many people are watching.” That was the essence of the message about the power of character that keynote speaker Dr. Len Marrella delivered at the Gust C. Kraras Chapter No. 61 of the Order of AHEPA’s Charter Dinner at Crossroads Restaurant in Reading on April 12. The Chapter celebrated its 93rd anniversary.
Dr. Marrella is a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served in Vietnam, at NATO, and at the Pentagon. He earned a BS in Military Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, an MBA in Finance from the University of Oklahoma, and a DBA from George Washington University.
Having taught at numerous institutions of higher learning, and serving on West Point’s Thayer Leadership Development Group, he founded the Center for Leadership and Ethics in 1994, which offers seminars and keynote speeches to develop ethics, character, and leadership in both business and academia.
In emphasizing the importance of character, Marrella raised numerous examples throughout history: from Heracletus in ancient times to Olympic champion John Naber in the 1970s. He described how Naber, destined to become a world-class swimmer, had recently graduated from high school, was competing in the national championships, so as to land a spot on the upcoming Olympic team. In winning the swimming event comfortably, the official disqualified him because his hand didn’t touch the wall. Though his coach told him that if he protested, the decision could be overturned, especially since it was inconsequential to his win, Naber insisted that “I didn’t touch the wall. My parents didn’t raise a cheater,” Marrella described.
An excerpt from the chapter titled Truth from Marrella’s book In Search of Ethics: Conversations with Men and Women of Character (DC Press, 2001), about Naber’s story, reflects Naber’s own words on the topic: “for the victory to mean anything, it must be earned fairly…if winning is all that matters, then cheating becomes an option.”
Chapter President Dr. George J. Giovanis spoke glowingly about Marrella, the Chapter, and its namesake, 97-year-old Gust. Kraras, a World War II veteran highly decorated by both the United States and Greece for his service, an Ahepan for over 70 years, and a longtime stalwart and patriarch of the Sts. Constantine and Helen parish in Reading.