SEC honors past leadership
Article was added on Friday, July 24, 2015
It's interesting to
look back on 75 years of an organization's history, but having 75
years of history in one room at one time is
That's just what
happened July 23, 2015 at Santee Electric Cooperative (SEC)
headquarters in Kingstree, SC. All six of the organization's
leaders or a family representative came together to celebrate the
organization's beginning and pay special tribute to Walter E.
"This is a defining
moment in our 75 year history," Current SEC President and CEO Floyd
Keels said during his remarks.
The sad thing about
history is that nothing becomes relevant until about 50 years
later. That being said, some parts of history get discarded and put
to the side until someone comes along and researches to find out
exactly how things began.
Keels, set to retire
July 31, 2015, made it his personal mission to research Blackwell
and have his picture added to the organization's wall of history
alongside the other cooperative's 5 leaders.
Blackwell was hired
as Project Superintendent in early 1940. With a degree in physics
from the Citadel and another in electrical engineering from Georgia
Tech. Blackwell arrived in Kingstree with not much more than an
executive order and a map, Keels said.
"He was dedicated, a
hard worker and the strongest language he ever uses was the saying,
'I'll be John Brown,'" Professor Johnny Evans said of Blackwell.
The two men worked at the Citadel together.
accomplishment was his dedication to Jesus Christ," Ted Blackwell
said. He added that he remembered his father being a very hard
worker because of the example his parents set for him. He also
quoted 2 Timothy 4:7-8 as it is written on his father's tombstone…
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have
kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to
me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have
longed for this appearing."
Walter Blackwell was
drafted on May 26, 1941 and interim manager J.W. Wallace was
retained. Blackwell returned to his post at SEC for most of
Basil Ward took the
reins in December 1946 and succeeded Blackwell as the longest
serving General Manager as he worked for 30
James Player managed
the cooperative from 1976 to 1984.
Ed Whetsel took over
from 1984 until 1997.
Tom Collier served as
CEO from 1997 until 1999 and Keels followed.
From that executive
order and a map, the above men have grown this cooperative into a
totally vertically integrated company serving 34,150 members in
four counties. With the largest geographical service territory of
any cooperative in South Carolina, SEC serves accounts in Florence,
Clarendon, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties.
SEC now looks forward
to the leadership of Rob Ardis. Ardis graduated with a degree in
physics from Francis Marion University and a degree in electrical
engineering from Tennessee. Because of their educational background
similarities, in a way Artis brings the organization back full
circle, Keels said.
From left, Walter Blackwell's son
Ted, Basil Ward's son Archie, James Player's son Jimmy, Ed
Whetsell, Tom Collier and Floyd Keels pose for a photograph
representing the past 75 years of leadership at Santee Electric
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