Victory Electric was chartered in 1945. In August 1947, the new cooperative’s first power lines were energized. And just 5 years later in 1952, a Lightner was elected to the board of trustees. Over the next 67 years, service on the Victory Electric board of trustees became a Lightner family legacy.
At the 2019 Victory Electric Annual Meeting in April, Richard Lightner officially retired from his position on the board of trustees after 36 years of service. Along with his decision to retire, the board voted to redistrict the cooperative’s service territory and downsize the number of board districts from 12 to 11.
“It was an opportune time to retire,” said Richard Lightner. “The people and the present state of the cooperative are great, and I know I am leaving the cooperative in good hands.”
Lightner was elected to the board of trustees in 1983, upon the retirement of his father, George, who served for 31 years from 1952 to 1983. During his tenure on the board, Lightner has been a youth tour judge, board president, official chili sampler, annual meeting greeter, health fair volunteer, friend and colleague.
“There were lots of fun times, some mediocre times, but very few bad times. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything,” Lightner said. “Being elected as a trustee, you have a duty to the people and to represent them well. The board position was never sought after as a legacy, but it kind of became one.”
In addition to their service on the board of trustees, both Richard and his father spent their lives maintaining the family farming operation near Plymell, Kansas. Richard considers himself semi-retired but plans to continue farming after his retirement from the board of trustees.
“Richard is definitely one-of-a-kind. Over the years he’s given so much of his time and himself to serve members in his district as well as shown a dedication to the cooperative employees and the community,” said Jerri Whitley, vice president of communications. “He was one of the first people I met when I moved to Dodge City and started working at Victory Electric right after college. Being young and not local to the area, Richard was always welcoming and a friendly face. He’s never failed to stop by my office and say hello anytime he is in the building. We will all miss him.”
Just as board trusteeship became a legacy in Lightner’s family, the family became a legacy with the cooperative. Not only has this legacy helped shape the history of Victory Electric, but it also continues to shape the future with the Lightner Community Spirit Scholarship. Both Richard and his father strongly supported Victory Electric’s community and youth programs. The Lightner Community Spirit Scholarship awards ten $1,000 scholarships to its members or their dependents. The scholarship is designed to recognize students who have demonstrated academic success as well as showing a commitment to bettering their community.
Congratulations to Richard on his retirement!