Rural Missouri - October 2013 - (Page 5)
Hart to Heart
A do-it-yourself kind of business
by Barry Hart
very October, those of us who
work for cooperatives take
time to recognize the significance of the cooperative way
of doing business. Nearly everyone
in rural Missouri does business with
a cooperative — some without even
realizing it. There are more than 200
businesses in Missouri that operate as
cooperatives, meaning they are owned
by those who use the co-op’s products
Millions of Missourians are member-owners of cooperatives, buying
everything from agricultural products,
insurance, hardware, telephone service and, of course, electricity.
Cooperatives in Missouri include
some of the state’s largest businesses,
such as Dairy Farmers of America,
MFA Incorporated and Associated Electric Cooperative. They also
include small local co-ops that serve a
relatively small group.
But large or small, cooperatives
exist for only one reason, and that is
to provide service to members who
would not prosper as well or at all
under a for-profit business model. It’s
this focus on service to members that
sets cooperatives apart from other
forms of business.
Your local electric cooperative was
formed because the traditional model
for an electric utility would not work
in rural Missouri. The
state’s first utilities were
either owned by towns
that stopped service
at the city limits or by
organized so investors
could make a profit off
It’s not hard to
understand there would
be no profit providing electricity to a
small group of people
through many miles of
line built in a hostile
terrain. Instead, the future members
of the electric cooperative built the
lines themselves, with loans — not
handouts — from the government.
This grassroots, do-it-yourself
mentality can be found at the root of
nearly every cooperative
in the nation. Ag cooperative MFA Incorporated, for example, was
established to provide
affordable wire to farmers desperately trying to
reduce their expenses.
Telephone cooperatives in Missouri were
formed the same way
electric cooperatives got
started, and in many
cases, it was the same
people who got them
off the ground.
“The tremendous contribution of cooperatives
to the quality of life needs to be recognized, and
that is the purpose behind Cooperative Month.”
The local boards elected by the
membership to run the cooperative
often are involved in many other
community projects. Their first
responsibility is to make sure the
cooperative is providing good service
and is being managed on a sound
Beyond that, they look at ways
they can better serve their membership. This is called “Concern for Community,” and it is one of the seven
guiding principles under which cooperatives operate.
This commitment to making their
world a better place to live, work and
raise families is yet another example
of the cooperative difference. It would
be impossible to list all of the ways
cooperatives improve the lives of
those around them.
The tremendous contribution of
cooperatives to the quality of life
needs to be recognized, and that is the
purpose behind Cooperative Month.
This month, please join me in expressing your thanks to those who bring
cooperative services to you.
Hart is the executive vice president of
the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
A stranger in the mirror
by Ray Speckman
am so scared.” Marti said it just
once. It was in our jungle-like patio
where we had spent, and would
spend, so many special hours together. She never said those words again.
Marti had breast cancer. It was in her
lungs; eventually the cancerous army of
destructive cells would invade her brain.
Marti died. Marti, the survivor, the
fighter, the optimist and the avoider lost
her final battle. She was 49.
That is how I began telling the
story of a very courageous woman, my
wife, Marti. She spent a lifetime helping others. To me, she was the wind
beneath my wings.
I was not the only beneficiary of
her graciousness and generous personality. She was a young widow with
two small children when we met.
They were her life, but never to the
exclusion of others.
She tolerated my nomadic spirit.
She readily assisted others. Marti was
straightforward and said what she
thought and meant what she said.
With her children almost raised,
she enrolled in college. She excelled.
Others attending college, young and
old alike, sought out her help in subjects she had struggled to master on
She graduated with honors, and
to accommodate me in my pursuits,
we moved to Springfield, Mo. She
enrolled in graduate school there.
Then, only a summer semester away
from graduation, she told me she had
a lump in her breast.
Marti had put off getting mammograms. After all, she opined, she had
breast cysts previously
and they had gone
away. Also there was
no family history of
Treatments, reaction to chemotherapy,
led to Marti postponing her last semester
in college. It was not
quitting or stopping
in her mind, it was
just putting off until
she was well.
Through Thanksgiving and Christmas
following the May diagnosis of cancer,
Marti continued to receive treatments.
At a Christmas gathering with our
combined families, she became very
The cancerous army had marched
to her brain. Further testing confirmed it was in her lungs. Radiation
followed. Nothing worked. She never
expressed fear. She was,
to the end, delightful,
upbeat and giving.
In March following
her diagnosis the previous May, Marti died.
Her memorial services
were attended by a
broad assortment of
friends, as varied as was
her life’s associations.
She was buried in a
special place in Notch,
Mo., a place that was
special to both of us.
“I hope at least one person takes heed of the
message from Marti’s story. October is National
Breast Cancer Month. Get a mammogram.”
State University posthumously conferred her master’s degree, a recognition of the esteem she had earned
at the college even though her last
semester was not completed.
At Ozarks Technical College in
Springfield, the Speckman Learning
Center was established. Here, students
can receive help in basic core courses.
It is the kind of place where Marti
would have worked.
I had no purpose when I began to
write the story. Later, as I worked on
it, I thought it would be a good thing
for others to read. It might save one
life if timely medical examinations
“Stranger in the Mirror” lay dormant for more than a decade. Joyce
Mitchell, a new lady in my life, hinted
and then insisted that I publish it in
I did and the success of the story
I hope at least one person takes
heed of the message from Marti’s story. October is National Breast Cancer
Get a mammogram.
Speckman is a freelance writer from
Tipton. “Stranger In The Mirror” can be
downloaded at https://www.smashwords.
com/books/view/69872. You may email
Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2013
Rural Missouri - October 2013
Schooled on sailing
A deer dilemma
Therapy for the heart & soul
Out of the Way Eats
Charge of the Iron Brigade
Hearth and Home
Rural Missouri - October 2013