It was 1964. Lyndon B. Johnson was president of the United States, The Beatles were invading American airwaves, and military tensions were mounting in East Asia. While events around the globe were making a mark on history, a young man was just beginning a career at a rural electric cooperative in southeastern North Dakota. He had no idea what was in store for him, nor of the hundreds of lives he would impact.
Fifty-three years later, Darrell Norquist prepares for one last work assignment: to eat as much pizza as he can. His retirement party is a few days away, and his favorite pizza place in town, Duane’s, will be providing lunch. He is ready to rest after so many years of hard work. He is apt to tell a few more stories before he goes though, for he has no shortage of them.
“I could write a book,” he says. Norquist worked as an apprentice and journeyman lineman before becoming a line foreman. He later took the role of apparatus service worker, where he performed meter readings and other services in the field. Though he has enjoyed each of his roles, Norquist says he liked being line foreman best.
“I liked being the boss. I had a crew of ten – five of them liked me and five of them didn’t,” he recalls with a smile. Throughout his time with CCEC, Norquist says the best part of his job has always been meeting the members and getting to chat with them. He met many people in CCEC’s rural areas and remembers many of them well. One experience sticks out in his mind.
A farmer near Wimbledon had been running into trouble with power outages due to a high electric load needed for grain drying. Due to his location, it tended to take a long time for power to be restored to the farmer. Norquist recalls visiting the man after one such outage. The two had a heated exchange and only narrowly avoided a physical altercation. Days later, the two men ran into each other in public. They had each cooled off and put the confrontation behind them. They got to talking, more amicably this time. Before long their chats became regular, and a friendship developed.
“We’re still good friends to this day,” says Norquist.
A career spanning five decades is not an easy thing to achieve, but Norquist says he was always able to enjoy his job enough to stick around.
“It was fun. That’s what kept me here. Good people, good employees.”
Norquist’s dedication to his career is an inspiration to a younger generation of employees. He has passed much of his knowledge down to them. Many of the lessons he shares extend beyond career advice and speak to an outlook on life itself.
“Don’t get discouraged. You’re going to have ups and downs. You’ll have days where you will get mad and want to quit, but you have to step back and let it pass.”
He truly speaks from experience. Cass County Electric Cooperative extends the highest gratitude to Norquist for his 53 years of service and dedication. We thank him for the countless members and employees, past and present, who he has impacted. We wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.
In addition to Norquist, three other longtime CCEC employees have recently retired or announced their retirement. The four employees combined will take nearly 200 years of work experience with them when they leave. Mark Wick, Vicki Hamry, and Bobby Koepplin have recently or will soon join Norquist in retirement. We thank them all and wish them many years of enjoyment and relaxation.