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Home on t Three People’s Electric employees have been on the job fo

This small building, located south of Ada, housed the original offi ce and warehouse of the Interstate Cooperative Electric and Power Company, forerunner of PEC, in 1938.

By Hayley Imel

hoose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” Confucius once advised. These seemingly simple wise words often appear to have been forgotten in today’s hustle and bustle to make ends meet. That is, until you spend some time at People’s Electric Co-op in Ada, Okla. There you’ll fi nd three employ- ees with a combined total of more than 158 years of expe- rience: Coleman Pennington, Marietta Walden and Larry Shellenberger.


According to the United States Department of Labor, the average American will have had nine different jobs before they reach the age of 32. Considering the success of these se- lect employees’ decades of contributions, it’s clear they may be onto something current generations are missing out on. Jennifer Boeck, vice-president of marketing and com- munications at PEC, says the knowledge base and expertise these employees offer is ultimately irreplaceable to the co- operative.

“You cannot teach it; you can’t train it,” Boeck says. “The way they have literally grown with the co-op is something for us young ones to take note of.”

Grab your notepad and get comfortable for a rare oppor-

tunity as these three dedicated employees take us back to the old-school world of work and remind us of the genuine joy derived from a job well done.

Coleman Pennington Walking through the PEC offi ces with Coleman Penning-

ton feels like being a part of “Old Home Week.” At 88 years old, it may be a little harder for Pennington to get around, but the ease of making rounds at PEC has only grown sharp- er with time.

“I’ve never had any hobbies other than work,” Pennington jokes.

His beginning with the co-op is simultaneous with the co- op’s beginning. At the urging of an uncle, Pennington came to PEC after high school graduation in 1942. Even though many homes in Ada were lighted for the fi rst time on Christ- mas Eve in 1938, the war years stalled construction due to material shortages. He was part of a small construction team


who had the crazy notion to bring electricity to farmers who were willing to accept “the new electric” and pay the initial fi ve-dollar membership fee. Pennington can easily remem- ber how fi ve dollars was a considerable amount of money for post-depression and World War II farmers. After all his own paycheck was only 25 cents an hour.

Pennington basically grew up within the PEC system, serv- ing in almost every position. He has held titles as the offi ce manager, staff assistant and director of credit & collections. At any time, however, he may have been called to work other positions in the co-op on an as-needed basis. He retired once in 1985; that lasted about 60 days. Pen- nington soon came back to work on a part-time basis. He says he appreciates management letting him continue to work throughout his retirement years.

“A blessing for me is that it keeps my mind challenged,” Pennington says. “This keeps your mind active and learn- ing; we sometimes have problems with high-tech computer learning but I’ve realized with work I don’t get so dull.” Judging from the echoes of conversations Pennington leaves in his wake, a day in his work is never dull.

Marietta Walden

One of those conversations 50 years ago gave Marietta Walden her career. Coleman called Walden to let her know she got a job as a Work Order Clerk back in 1961. She went to work when many women did not. She had to do it in order to help her young family out of a fi nancial bind. Back when rent was only 45 dollars a month, her two- week paycheck of 139 dollars went pretty far, but gaining that check was not without its challenges. “When I fi rst started out looking at a staking sheet I would go home and cry and tell myself, ‘I’ll never fi gure out that crossword puzzle,’” Walden says. She proved herself wrong. Like any cream of the crop, Walden rose to the top. She started out wanting to learn every aspect of the department. If she got her work done, she says she would go to the next department and help them. Through the years management noticed her hard work; she became an Engineering Secretary, a Construction Applica- tions Supervisor, a Contracts Offi cer and was even honored as the 1994 Operations Division Employee of the Year.

Shellenberger poses for a group lineman photo in 1972 in 1972

Pennington hard at work in 1959

Walden remembers doing all clerk work by hand in 1962

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