My brother and I were raised by wonderful parents. Mimi and Pops as they are known by their grandkids. Pops, or Bucky Jakins as he’s known by most of the rest of us, retired in April after a long and impressive career in the electric cooperative business. Over the years, it’s been a real comfort for me to be able to call him and talk shop, one co-op manager to another, and I’ll miss that. I know he’s always going to be a co-op manager at heart, despite his new full-time job as Pops to five grandkids.
As my Dad reached this important milestone – and as he now embarks on this new journey known as retirement – I didn’t want this Father’s Day to pass without paying a bit of homage to him.
I’ll start by saying that when we were growing up, my brother and I often questioned his parenting tactics. We didn’t understand why we had to tend to the garden and eat the vegetables it produced. Why did we have to split so much wood and cut the grass with an old push mower? Why did we have to work on nearly everything before we could use it: cars, boat motors, lawn mowers? You know I never saw Dad go into a hardware store; he had everything we ever needed to fix something already in the garage, which he made us clean constantly. He learned how to fix things from my grandfather, Buddy (the first E.A. Jakins). He was “the” mechanic in town.
When we asked why, he’d say, “it builds character.” Mom would say “it made memories.” Looking back, my brother and I would agree with them both. Dad was shaping us in his own special way to be adaptive, to have a strong work ethic and solve problems. It’s no surprise that we both turned out to be engineers – just like him; with a knack for business – just like him.
Perhaps, I was destined to be so much like my father. I am the third to bear our family name, Ernest Adelbert Jakins. None of us actually go by that name, and neither does my son. So, I became “Chip” from day one, but had to grow into the “off the old block” part. Dad would take me out on service calls with him when I was just a boy. I’d hold the flashlight for him in the dark while he worked on the power lines, or keep the seat warm in the cab of the truck when he met with members. Those times we rode together, he instilled in me the same things his father did for him – a good work ethic that calls for trustworthiness and dependability and an appreciation for people.
Trustworthiness and dependability are not only important between a father and his children, but to a business as well. A reputation for accountability and dependability is what we are all about at Jackson EMC. That reputation wouldn’t be possible without the employees who carry themselves with the same kind of integrity.
The children of Jackson EMC’s employees look up to their parents just like I look up to mine – some of them look 40 feet up a power pole or to someone hoisted in the air on the arm of a bucket truck, in fact. Some fathers at Jackson EMC work in rain, heat and cold, day and night, when duty calls. It’s not an easy job. The hours are long, and tasks are dangerous. But the payoff – making life better for all of us – fuels these resilient men.
Working in this business with Dad, I’ve seen how cooperatives are a lot like family: We’re not perfect, but we care about one another. It shows in how we treat each other, how we operate our business and in how we treat our members. Pops taught me to be reliable, to dedicate myself to a job that benefits the community. Every day I get to work with men (and women) who have been taught to do the same thing. Happy Father’s Day to them and to all the “Pops” out there!