How do you find a silver lining in a pandemic? It’s a hard task. But Wasco Electric Director Bob Durham certainly found one during his two-year tenure as president of Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association (ORECA), where he had the opportunity to chair two in-person meetings. Yes, only two. However, that did not stop Bob from leaving an indelible mark on the association.
After taking over as president in November 2019, Bob presided over our January 2020 board meeting in Salem when the term coronavirus was only known to infectious disease specialists. Then the pandemic forced a nearly worldwide shutdown in March, and Bob had to wait 22 months for the board to come together again.
Bob made it clear we would stay connected as an association during that hiatus, no matter what. Despite having limited internet on his farm in Dufur, Bob pressed us to meet regularly on Zoom and via conference calls, not only because the press of business demanded it but because Bob sensed there was an opportunity to use this shared experience to link us together like never before.
It worked. Bob left his presidency with ORECA as cohesive as possible, with numerous successes during the pandemic. And I don’t think we’ll ever return to the days of a few board meetings sprinkled with a few conference calls.
I was pleased Bob finished his term with an in-person meeting at the Salem Convention Center this November, where he received the prestigious ORECA President’s Award for a highly successful—albeit unconventional—tenure as the association’s board chair. He now turns the gavel over to Harney Electric Manager Fred Flippence.
I know I speak for many when I thank Bob for his leadership and how he managed to connect us when we all felt so disconnected.