Jan Wiseman ‘tried to bring out the best in people’

Jan Wiseman, longtime president of the Greater Salisbury Committee, who died Tuesday, “always knew what to say in any situation and tried to bring out the best in people,” his wife, Ann, said.

“He always treated me like a queen, always complimenting and encouraging me,” she said of her 74-year-old husband, who suffered a major heart attack in March.

“He was all about making everyone around him look good and feel good about themselves. He always wanted to give people something to smile about and he was driven to make the world a better place, in his personal and professional life,” she said.

They were married 16 years.

The father of three, Wiseman, who spent years in leadership training and community development, guided the Greater Salisbury Committee so successfully that membership increased  more than 45 percent.

He played a key role in the creation of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, which became a key economic player in the Maryland-Delaware-Virginia area, his wife said.

GSC is a 48-year-old not-for-profit group of CEOs who work to make communities on the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, as well as parts of Virginia and Delaware, a better place to live and work, Ann Wiseman said.

Successes have included helping to start Wor-Wic Community College and keeping the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Salisbury University open after both had been slated for closure by the state. Wiseman continued to support the schools’ goals.

He was honored by the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with the Presidential Citation in 2011 for economic development in the six Eastern Shore counties, for helping initiate UMES’ pharmacy program and expanding the school’s engineering program.

A graduate of 2004 Leadership Maryland and 2003 Shore Leadership programs, Wiseman created day-long community leadership workshops with 175 participants from Wicomico County. His New Patriotism Program led to the creation of the Civic and Government Leadership Academy.

As a result, 3,400 county residents in Wicomico County signed a commitment to become active community leaders and good citizens.

His other major programs included the Academy for Leadership in Education, involving local school districts and Salisbury University, and building a team of north prong owners to help rid the area of unused, rusty oil tanks and other nuisances. He also began planning for that area’s future.

He initiated a program in the three area colleges to select one student from each school, based on leadership qualities, to each receive a cash gift from GSC.

The goal was to keep the brightest and best potential leaders on the Shore, instead of seeing them move away. Wiseman’s focus was breaking down the walls between college students, residents and government.

Wiseman went to GSC in 2002. Previously, he had a senior executive position with the American Soybean Association in St. Louis.  Prior to that, he managed associations for more than 25 years, served as a community college dean for 12 years and was a professional journalist.

Since he went on medical leave, James R. Thomas Jr. has been acting president of GSC.


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