When our dad Richard Leonard was promoted to president and CEO of the Martha’s Vineyard Cooperative Bank in 1989 — a big job for an Island boy freshly graduated from University of Massachusetts — our mom, Pia Centenari-Leonard, gifted him a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson called What Is Success? She had framed the poem, which she had copied with love in her best calligraphy, to inspire him in his new position.

The poem reads: To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.

We’re not sure if our dad intentionally lives his life by this poem, but from our front row seats watching him serve our community these past 35 years, it certainly seems that he does. From his work at the bank helping Islanders budget to move closer to their personal and professional aspirations, or to save up for college tuitions, to helping families apply for mortgages and settle in their forever homes, to coaching youth basketball for a decade, and then volunteering at the scoreboard at MVRHS games, to leading the charge in the struggle for affordable housing, to sitting on the board of the Chamber of Commerce to strengthen our local economy, to working with the You’ve Got a Friend fund supporting Islanders in need — he has given all he has to our community. And he has left the world a little better through redeemed social conditions. His commitment to this mission, and his integrity in everything he does, has earned him the appreciation of honest critics across the Island and beyond, as well as the respect of people in many different arenas.

Finishing his career with the Cape Cod 5 Cent Savings Bank has been the perfect way to say goodbye to a lifetime of banking on Martha’s Vineyard. He was able to continue doing what he loved — helping to build up and fortify the Island where he was born and raised — while also helping to bring another local banking option to our shores.

We write this from our respective classrooms: Tonya from the Oak Bluffs School, where she teaches third grade, and Brielle from Lexington High School, where she is a guidance counselor. In both classrooms the framed Emerson poem now sits, reminding us to focus our careers the way our dad focused his — with respect, appreciation, endurance, commitment, fairness, integrity, passion and love. Although you won’t be seeing him at the bank anymore, you can rest assured that he is actively appreciating the beauty of our Island, working in his little garden patch by the Lagoon. You will probably be able to spot him at any local playground or beach, playing with one or all of his four grandchildren, whose affection he has already won, a million times over.

Happy retirement, Dad. Many lives have breathed easier because of you. Thank you for all you have done for our beautiful Island. You’ve succeeded.