Wasco Electric’s Bob Durham is adding another job to an already heavy workload: president of the ORECA Board of Directors.

Bob Durham, left, greets D-Day veteran Ben Asquith at the 2019 Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association annual meeting. Photo by Mike Teegarden.

Bob Durham is a man on the move. Like many rural leaders, Durham, a director for Wasco Electric Cooperative, has deep roots in his community and stacks up volunteer opportunities like the hay on his cattle ranch west of Dufur—a town of approximately 600 people near The Dalles.

A native of Idaho, Durham graduated from the University of Idaho with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in animal science, then moved to Dufur with his wife, Kathy. They have been Wasco County residents for 42 years.

It’s difficult to find a part of the community where Durham hasn’t left an imprint. In addition to his ranch, Durham has been an intermediate EMT with Dufur Volunteer Ambulance, a school bus driver and active with 4-H for many years, including a stint as auction chairman.

ORECA Executive Director Ted Case, left, accepts the J.C. Brown Award from Jim Matheson, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO, at the association’s CEO meeting January 13. Case was recognized for his work advancing communication in the industry. Photo by Stephen Reasonover

“A great bunch of people and a great bunch of kids,” Durham said.

His work with Oregon electric cooperatives is taking a higher priority after his election last November as board president of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Durham says the organization—and the issues— have changed dramatically since he joined the Wasco Electric board 25 years ago.

“We didn’t have those type of challenges when I first joined the co-op,” he said, citing high-profile issues such as cap and trade, vegetation management and the recently passed RURAL Act, a major legislative victory for the association. “In all these examples, ORECA has responded to our needs. I want this trend to continue.”

Wasco Electric Cooperative General Manager Jeff Davis said Durham brings considerable skills to the ORECA board leadership.

Durham with his grandchildren, Bailey and Wyatt, at his ranch in Dufur. Photo by Elena Durham.

“Since his appointment to the ORECA board of directors, I have seen Bob grow immensely in his leadership,” Davis said. “He will do a great job in his role as the newly installed president of the association.”

Outgoing ORECA President Dave Schneider, CEO of Midstate Electric Cooperative, agreed Durham is an inspired choice.
“He has done outstanding work on the Budget Committee and other major initiatives like our Washington, D.C., trip and our Guatemala Project,” Schneider said.

Indeed, Durham’s new role as ORECA president will invariably pull him out of Dufur and to places such as Washington, D.C., and Montanita de la Virgen, a small village ORECA will electrify this April using Oregon electric co-op linemen.

Durham has pledged to bring the same relentless energy to his new role as he does to his beloved rural Oregon town.
“I want to just keep moving us forward,” he said.