The best has earned a rest

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

He brought his family to Missouri 32 years ago from the Great Plains of South Dakota where he and his wife were born. Growing up in a small rural community with an agriculture economy developed his good work ethic, but also developed his love for the rural way of life. It helped him understand the need to fight for this rural lifestyle, for the cause of the people who live there, and the important role of rural electric cooperatives in the fight.

After graduating from college, he has said he was fortunate to begin working in the rural electric program with some of the early pioneers and leaders. At this point in time (the 1960s) those leaders were engaged in some of the toughest battles in the state capitals and in Washington, D.C., to protect rural electric cooperatives and keep them in existence.

During this period in his life he learned and developed the skills, tools and dedication that allowed him to become for 40 years one of the most effective advocates in the United States for the rural way of life.

When he arrived in Missouri in 1972, he began spreading the word that small rural electric cooperatives, and other small rural organizations, could have an impact on public policy decisions, if they would unify and work together instead of individually.

Rural electric leaders in Missouri believed his message of unity and began working together to affect energy policy decisions in Jefferson City and Washington, D.C. Over the next 32 years his message of unity became the standard for Missouri’s electric cooperatives in the public arena and, as a result, their success has been admired by electric co-ops across the country.

In addition to their effectiveness in legislative and regulatory issues, under his leadership, Missouri’s cooperatives have developed nationally recognized programs of job training and safety, communications, credit union services for employees, plus employee, director and management training. During his tenure, he prioritized leadership development of young people and now support for Missouri youth is at an all-time high.

He served as chairman of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Legislative Resolutions Committee longer than anyone, which is recognition of his leadership qualities by peers from across the country. His leadership position included an invitation to the White House to confer, along with other rural electric leaders, with President Carter. He has been referred to by those he worked closely with as the “best statewide manager in the country — ever.”

After 40 years of hard work to preserve the rural way of life and the rural electric cooperative business model, he made the decision to retire. He deserves a little rest and the time he wants to spend with his wife, Susie, their four children and their families that include 10 grandchildren.

To be simply put, he has been the Knute Rockne of the electric cooperative program, and to many of us that are fortunate he has been our teacher and mentor. You know him from the columns he has written the past 32 years as Frank Stork.
He is the best . . . has earned his rest . . . and our thanks!

Hart is the new executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart

Rural Missouri is published by
The Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives


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