CHANGE COMES whether we are ready or not. Sometimes we’re given a little time to adjust.  Other times we just have to make do as we work through unexpected challenges.

Lately, your co-op’s leadership has been dealing with both situations. One of our long-time directors, Jimmie D. McMillan of Hampton County, in June announced his retirement from your Board of Trustees.  Just as we began adjusting to this news—mainly by expressing our gratitude to Mr. McMillan—we were saddened by the passing of James O. Freeman, another veteran trustee, also from Hampton County.

Mr. Freeman, 82, of Wagon Wheel Road near Hampton, died July 5 in the Hampton Regional Medical Center.  He began 21 years of service on the Palmetto board on February 16, 1998, but his service to his community stretched back decades.  Born February 12, 1937 in Hampton County, a son of the late James Eddie Freeman and Elsie Bowers Freeman, Mr. Freeman had an outstanding, 42-year career in law enforcement. It started in 1975 when he was elected Hampton County sheriff. Mr. Freeman served until 1982, when he was hired as an agent with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Mr. Freeman served with SLED until his retirement in 2008. He then returned to the Hampton County Sheriff’s Department, serving as a detective until 2017, when he retired. Mr. Freeman was a member of Sandy Run Baptist Church, where he was a choir member.

We already dearly miss him but we take comfort and inspiration from his example. In fact, both of these gentlemen personified two values that Palmetto Electric emphasizes as a Touchstone Energy Cooperative: integrity and commitment to community. With 65 years of combined service between them, both Mr. Freeman and Mr. McMillan represented their fellow members with distinction.

Mr. McMillan, whose board tenure began May 9, 1975, served as a Palmetto director for 44 years. We salute him and will miss his long-term dedication to the cooperative.  Mr. McMillan owns and operates McMillan Farms, where the primary crops are peanuts, cotton and corn.

Members like Mr. McMillan help keep Palmetto Electric connected to our rural roots. Even today, when we serve industry as well as more populous communities such as Hardeeville, Bluffton and Hilton Head Island, we continue to provide power to many farming operations, particularly in Hampton County, a third of which is farmland.  

Mr. Freeman and Mr. McMillan, like the men and women who continue to serve on your board, show how people of all walks of life, by working together, can make a positive difference in local communities.  As Mr. Freeman and Mr. McMillan knew so well, cooperation is the key. Palmetto Electric Cooperative is immeasurably stronger, thanks to each of them.

We were blessed to have their leadership. Let’s all strive to follow their example of service to fellow man. 

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