When I think about exceptional people, I think of Sharon Naught and Carl Vogel.
What makes humans exceptional? I asked myself this question as I began to consider this article, and I was somewhat surprised at how difficult it is for me to define. In many respects, we are all exceptional because we all have our own unique personalities. A member of our office family recently had twins, and their individual personalities were evident as soon as they were born. Yet even as God makes us all different, we have similar needs, inclinations, values, and we are all prone to fatigue, failure, and discouragement.
In the end, instead of trying to define exceptional and then write about someone who matches that definition, I am writing about two individuals I perceive as exceptional, even if I cannot adequately quantify the characteristics that make them so. Neither of these individuals or their families was aware of this article, and it is my sincere hope and desire that the admiration I am trying to express does not cause embarrassment.
For many years I have had the good fortune to call Sharon Naught a close friend. I have been able to work alongside her on a variety of community projects. Her success as a small business owner is surpassed only by her steadfast support for veterans and their families. I have watched with much admiration as Sharon works to help others grow veterans events such as Operation Bugle Boy and Wreaths for Heroes into hallmarks of the Jefferson City community. Much of this work has been done behind the scenes and unnoticed. Yet, this lack of attention merely amplifies the sheer satisfaction she derives from helping men and women who have sacrificed so much on our behalf.
In 2010, I was elected to represent Missouri’s Sixth Senate District following the faithful service of a term-limited Carl Vogel. Carl had left us far too soon, but I will forever remember his positive attitude, his belief in the people of Jefferson City and central Missouri, and the cheerful endurance he demonstrated in business, in office, and in his final battle with cancer. In my eyes, Carl Vogel will always be the senator from the sixth district.
Sharon Naught and Carl Vogel have changed the way I see life, how I focus my efforts, and how I assess priorities. Both have tempered great personal and business successes with concern and passion for helping and serving others. They have served not as payback or penance for their success, but rather, by recognizing the opportunities and blessings they were given.
Throughout Jefferson City and all across Missouri, we all have people who make a positive impact on our lives and leave us better off for having known them. They come from all walks of life and all manner of shapes, sizes, and colors. For me, I find Sharon and Carl to be exceptional because of the impact they have on others. Through tornados and pandemics, in person or on the phone, people can do exceptional things on a daily basis. They do not want, nor will they receive, fame or recognition for their efforts. Yet, they still make a difference. If someone is exceptional to you, take a moment to write them a note, send them a message, or give them a call to say thank you. You’ll feel better having done so, and they will be blessed to know the impact they have made.