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In May 1962, President John F. Kennedy was in office, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris were starting a magical season-long home run duel, and Leon Philpot was starting his first day at Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative in Mena.
Last week, after nearly six full decades of leadership at the utility co-op, 79-year-old Philpot spent his last day as president and CEO of Rich Mountain. He was the longest-serving CEO of any of the state’s 17 electric distribution cooperatives.
W. J. “Buddy” Newbolt, chairman of the cooperative’s board, thanked Philpot in a news release for his “years of dedication and commitment.” Newbolt said, “His service is much appreciated, and we wish him a great and happy retirement.”
After 58 years of dedication to his career and to members of the co-op, keeping the power on through countless storms, calamities and downturns, Philpot will be turning his devotion to family, he said in a statement.
“Over the years, I have been blessed to have a career that is rich in friendships, and professional and personal growth,” Philpot said. “I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life and spending much more time with my family.”
During his long tenure, he served on numerous electric cooperative boards on the state and national level.
“When I joined Rich Mountain Electric in 1962, I was impressed with the dedication and commitment to community that was instilled in cooperative employees,” Philpot said.
He expects that philosophy to carry on under his successor, 52-year-old Brad Castor, who has served as the cooperative’s assistant general manager for the past nine years.
Newbolt announced Castor’s promotion on Tuesday. “Brad’s experience as assistant general manager, exceptional knowledge of the cooperative and outstanding leadership skills made him the perfect choice to lead Rich Mountain Electric,” he said.
During Castor’s career, he was promoted to positions of increasing responsibility in areas involving engineering, safety, accounting, budgeting and operations for Rich Mountain Electric.
“It is a privilege and honor to serve as the president and CEO of Rich Mountain Electric,” he said in a statement. “I am thrilled about the opportunity and humbled by the vote of confidence that the board of directors has given me. I am dedicated to meeting the needs of our membership and working to increase the quality of life for our members.”
Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative serves members in Howard, Montgomery, Polk and Sevier counties in Arkansas, and McCurtain and Le Flore counties in Oklahoma. The cooperative was incorporated in May of 1945 and has about 9,000 members.