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by Share Brandt

Rural Electrification Veterans

Every year in November we honor our nation’s veterans of military service. I’d like to honor a couple of veterans of the rural electric program whose leadership helped shape the future for rural Wisconsin.

Allen Beadles was elected to the Jump River Electric board of directors on October 7, 1965. His service on the board lasted 46 years until he passed away unexpectedly on March 27, 2011. During his tenure on the local board he was elected by fellow board members to serve as president several times. He represented his co-op on the Dairyland Power Cooperative board and the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) board, where he served as president and as secretary-treasurer. He was a 25-year statewide director, serving from 1971 to 1996. Al was not afraid to take on the controversial issues, embrace change, and build consensus with other decision makers.

Local to National Involvement

Al was so respected among his peers on electric co-op boards across the state that he was elected to represent them on national boards over the years. True to the nature of cooperatives being self-help organizations, the statewide created a self-insured workers’ compensation pool. With progressive leaders like Al, the pool quickly expanded coverage to many lines of business insurance. The Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange today is the insurer of electric cooperatives nationwide.

Al also represented co-ops in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois as a director of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC), the first nonprofit cooperative self-help financing institution in rural electric history, created on April 10, 1969.

Involved in government throughout his life, Al served in numerous township and county board posts, and he threw his hat in the ring more than once for state legislative office.

Gilman Moe is another stalwart of the electric cooperative family who leaves behind a legacy of leadership. Gilman devoted 38 years to Richland Electric Cooperative where he was only the fourth board president in the 75-year history of Wisconsin’s longest-operating electric cooperative. He was first elected to the board in 1973, became president in 1978, and held the post until his death July 24, 2011.

Leaving Their Mark

Moe was on the WECA Board from 1975 to 1995 and again from 2000 to 2006. He was elected as WECA board president from 1982 to 1984. He also served on the Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange board and was elected as president from 1993 to 1995. In 1996, Moe was the 30th recipient of the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association’s highest honor, the Ally of Cooperative Electrification (ACE) Award.

Gilman was a quiet man, but his leadership did not stop with electric co-ops. He was also president of TechCom, parent company of Genuine Telecom and an original incorporator and former president of DIRECTV provider Skyview DBS. As was the case with his colleague Al Beadles, Moe was also active in government, elected to the Richland County Board and as chairman of the Town of Willow until his death.

These two gentlemen clearly left their mark of leadership on electric co-ops and in their communities. I have cited only two veterans of the rural electrification program. There are many more whose volunteer leadership has kept our program strong. Lest we forget, it is the involved people in your community who create the quality of life in rural America that you enjoy today.

You can read more about our co-op veterans and the rich history of Wisconsin electric cooperatives in Statewide: Wisconsin’s Electric Cooperative 1936–2011. Books are available for purchase HERE.