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“We originally had five outpost positions,” PEC Maintenance Director Del


Johnson says. “We have since phased those out. Larry was the last outpost worker at PEC. Now everyone works out of our Ada office.”


Shellenberger handled most of the maintenance functions in the Sulphur ser- vice area—power outages, collections, service initiation and cancelations. He felt a special connection to the members in his territory. “They were my people,” he says. And, according to his daughter Rea Ann Shellenberger, he was always there for his people. “When dad got a trouble call on Christmas morning, we would have to wait to open our presents until he could restore the power for someone on PEC’s lines,” she says. “As a child, the wait always seemed like an eternity, but dad wanted to be sure everyone else had their electricity back on Christmas morning.” This dedication to customer service endeared Shellenberger to his fellow co-op members who would oftentimes bring him dinner or snacks while he was working to restore power. When Shellenberger wasn’t busy in his own service area, he would help crews working in other areas.


“I would call the office and find out where another crew was working and call them to see if they needed help. I was able to work on a lot of different projects that way,” he says. “My job was never boring.” There were times other linemen would travel to Shellenberger’s area to assist him as well.


“I had never worked with live power alone. Company safety policy required two linemen be present anytime we worked with live power,” Shellenberger says. “If I needed to work on a live line, I would have to wait until someone else was free to come and help.” Shellenberger’s favorite part of the job, aside from caring for customers, was the daily mental challenge. “My job was always interesting. Every day it was something new, and I had to figure out how to make things work and solve problems,” he says. One day he would be installing new service to members, while the next day he would be restoring service, and later planning expansion for an area. “I enjoyed serving our members. You have to love people to love this job. I really enjoyed getting to know our members and taking care of them. I would still be working today if it weren’t for my eyes,” he says. Shellenberger has decided to retire from his full-time lineman duties and un- dergo cataract surgery.


“I would be working a cutout and couldn’t see what I was doing. I would try to hang a barrel in a cutout and it kept falling out. I thought I needed glasses,” he says. “I went to the eye doctor and he told me I needed cataract surgery, that glasses were not going to solve my problem.


“I don’t know what I am going to do every morning when I get up and don’t have to go to work,” he says. The surgery and recovery period is expected to take six months. Once he re- covers, Shellenberger plans to work at PEC two days per week. “We will love having Larry back. He has an incredible amount of experience and is a very valuable person in our company,” Johnson says. Johnson plans to have Shellenberger train younger linemen and pass on his vast knowledge of the job to the next generation. “We appreciate the thousands of dedicated man-hours Larry has worked during his 53 years on the job,” People’s Electric’s Executive Vice-President/CEO Randy Ethridge says. “It’s a monumental task to duplicate Larry’s knowledge and expe- rience, along with his unparalleled drive and passion for keeping the lights on.” In the meantime, Shellenberger intends to make the most of this spare time. After working in his service area for so many years, Shellenberger has made friends with many landowners who allow him to fish in their ponds. “I love to fish local Oklahoma ponds,” he says. “Now I’ll have more time to


fish.” OCTOBER 2015 23





When dad got a trouble call on Christmas morning, we would have to wait to open our presents until he could restore the power for someone on PEC’s lines,” she says. “As a child, the wait always seemed like an eternity, but dad wanted to be sure everyone else had their electricity back.


- Rea Ann Shellenberger, Larry Shellenberger’s daughter





Asked what advice he would give young men and women starting out in the electrical utility business, Shellenberger offers these tips:


3 Don’t just like your job; love your job.


3 You need to be interested in helping members. This is a service business.


3 Always attend safety meetings and try to learn from the mistakes of others. 3 Use safety equipment every single time. 3 It is not a dead electrical line unless it is grounded.


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