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It was the beginning of a long and fulfilling career. The McClains lived


in Oklahoma City until 1961 when Ed McClain built a home on the Boohers’ family farming property. Virginia recalls he did most of the work, but hired some help to pour a slab floor, do plumbing and set up shingles. The McClains built an all-electric home with a geothermal unit. Virginia began a new routine of commuting from Luther to Oklahoma City for her job at OAEC. Since the OAEC office was located near the State Capitol, she was able to carpool with others who worked near the Capitol. In 1971, OAEC acquired a facility in north Oklahoma City. She continued her career journey with electric cooperatives, which would span four decades.


A Lifetime of Service As OAEC’s office manager, Virginia had multiple duties. She was in


charge of payroll, benefits and paying bills. Additionally, she was busy re- ceiving and organizing quilt patterns from readers across the state for pub- lication in Oklahoma Rural News, now Oklahoma Living magazine. During most of her tenure, there were no computers, electric typewriters, or even electronic postage machines. She recalls the time-consuming process of fold- ing letters, stuffing and licking envelopes, and typing addresses. As is common in the electric cooperative network, Virginia felt at home


and saw her co-workers and fellow co-op peers as family. “Everyone would help each other out. When we were done with our tasks, we would check and see who needed help. It was a good workplace, always upbeat,” Virginia recalls. “We used to have potluck meals and they would always ask me to bring homemade rolls.” During her co-op career, Virginia had the opportunity to serve as a chap- erone for the 1980 Rural Electric Youth Tour, an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for high school juniors. Virginia was also in charge of the OAEC Ladies Auxiliary activities during OAEC’s Annual Meeting. In this role she formed many friendships. One of her friends, Edna Bean, wrote about Virginia, “Coming to statewide, regional and national meetings, I could think of all the times that Virginia’s presence and infectious smile


warmed the room. If you didn’t know Virginia when you came, you always knew her by the time you left.” Joe Harris worked alongside Virginia for five years while serving as OAEC’s legislative and regulatory affairs director; Harris has fond memories of her. “She was a very gracious lady. She was professional and went about her business without any fuss,” Harris says. “She was a repository of many things we had done; when we needed to remember something, we would go to Virginia and she would have the answers.” Despite her ever-growing duties in the office, Virginia found time to ded- icate to her family life as well. Her daughter, Mary Beth Wilson, recalls her mom would always have a hot breakfast ready for her husband and kids before heading out the door, and she would serve a good meal to her family in the evenings as well. How did she do it? “I followed my mother’s example,” Virginia says. This same caring “mom” legacy has been passed on to Wilson, who proud-


ly says she follows her mother’s example. Virginia retired from OAEC in 1993, after 41 years of service. She stays busy with several hobbies. Her mother, Bess, used to keep violets, a collec- tion she started with a single leaf from a neighbor. Virginia now maintains several colorful violets in a spare room in her house. She is an active scrap- booker, clipping important events from newspapers and magazines and creating a record on Luther’s history. She enjoys keeping photo books of family reunions. She is the proud grandmother of 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Four of her great-grandsons play on Luther’s Lions football team, and she plans to watch games this fall. She is also an avid OKC Thunder fan. While she is thoroughly enjoying retirement, Virginia has vivid and trea- sured memories of her time with Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives. When asked what advice she would give current electric cooperative employees she says, “Hold on to your job because you are not going to get a better one. It gets in your blood.”


As an heir of rural electrification pioneers, the cooperative spirit is un- doubtedly in her blood.


The original farmhouse of Carl and Bess Booher, where Virginia McClain was raised, still stands. Photo by James Pratt


18 WWW.OKL.COOP


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