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the Range


“Out here now it’s kind of like we’re one big family,” Walden says. “When someone needs help, we help, and when someone hurts, we all hurt.” Besides being her second home, Walden says her greatest joy about being a part of PEC is telling people where she works. “I’m never ashamed, and I’m always proud,” Walden says. “There are a lot of people I imagine would like to be who we are.”


Today, reminiscing his very fi rst pay stubs


It’s this capable, confi dent outlook that has been the main- stay of her career. When everything was done by hand, she could do everything. When systems went digital and became more integrated, she took the bull by the horns and learned. Now she says the computer is “old hat.” Walden celebrated her fi rst retirement in 1995, but she says it was always understood she would come back and work part time.


“I remember I don’t have to go to work; I get to go to work,” Walden says.


Walden proves that staying with an organization for an ex- tended period of time is like weathering a storm. There are highs and lows, but change is a welcome constant as long as you love what you do and who you’re with.


Today, staying up to date with the latest equip- ment


Larry Shellenberger “Some people like their job, but I love my job,” District Lineman Larry Shellenberger says. “It’s a challenge and a good satisfaction to solve customers’ problems, and I’m just really grateful.” You could say Shellenberger is the baby of the group. He’s been at PEC for 49 years and three months, and he’s still going strong. He says his goal is to be the fi rst PEC employee to make it working 50 years full time.


Today, working with PEC customers still puts a smile on her face.


“I probably get asked three times a day when I’m going to re- tire,” Larry says. “I always say, ‘You gotta get old enough fi rst!’” Shellenberger got his fi rst spark of interest in electric work when he was just 13 years old after watching an electrician in- stall a new breaker box on his family farm. Later, after graduat- ing high school and working briefl y in the oil fi elds, he came back to work on that same farm. He says he can still remember the events of the day in May of 1962 in those fi elds that would forever transform his career path.


A deacon from his church found Shellenberger and his fa- Life Lessons


The only constant over a span of half a century is change, and these three have seen it all. They’ve watched the lights turn on, the poles go up and even move underground. However, amidst all these changes, the life lessons they can offer mean as much today as they did yesterday.


“If someone tells me job well done, it makes me want to work that much harder,” Pennington says.


“Any person working for the company should work like that company is theirs,” Walden says. “Be an employee your em- ployer will be proud of and trust.”


Walden says she thinks PEC employees are like that today. She gestures to her right at Shellenberger.


“One thing I like about Larry, I can ask him to do anything out in the fi eld—no excuses, always willing to do it,” Walden says. “I don’t ever have to worry about him giving me an excuse, even today.”


Shellenberger says he believes people should look forward to going to work. “If you don’t love your job you need to fi nd something else,” Shellenberger says.


Considering how closely Shellenberger’s advice echoes Con-


fucius’, one can’t help but wonder, even though they have worked a combined 158 years, maybe these three haven’t ever worked a day in their life after all. OL


OCTOBER 2011 33


or over a century and a half, and they’re still going strong. The current People’s Electric Cooperative’s offi ces, newly built in 2006. Photos Courtesy of People’s Electric Co-op


ther working cows. The man knew PEC had an opening as a maintenance man and that Shellenberger had some experience as an electrician’s helper. “I told him, ‘We’ll fi nish working these cows fi rst,’ but my


daddy said, ‘No, you’ll go right now,’” Shellenberger says. “I got the job that day, and I’m very indebted to my daddy for that.” When Shellenberger fi rst started, he says they sold about two or three incandescents. Now he says you can’t tell where town starts and stops. Like the others, Larry has seen the industry go through many changes.


“I remember when they told me I was going to have a com- puter. I said ‘I don’t want it.’ Now I can’t make a day without it in that company truck,” Shellenberger says. “I’m always tickled to learn something new; it makes me a better employee.” Perhaps learning is the line that ties all three of these em- ployees’ stories together.


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