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Remembering Phil Depp: Articles recall Farmers RECC record

Phil Depp died Thursday, August 3, 2006, in Columbia, KY. He had the longest service record of any electrical cooperative director in Kentucky. Three magazine articles trace his career from its 5th, 40th, and 60th year mark. They are reprinted with permission, submitted by Jackie Browning, President and CEO of Farmers RECC, Glasgow, KY. The articles start with the most recent first.
Six decades of service: Phil Depp has longest service record in Kentucky
This article appeared in a Kentucky Living April 2002
The year Phil Depp became a director of Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, a postage stamp cost 3 cents Citizen Kane premiered, and the first organ was played at a baseball game. Franklin D. Roosevelt, the president who paved the way for rural electrification, was in office.


Over the next 60 years, Mr. Depp, until his retirement from the board last year, saw the rural electrification program become one of the nation's greatest success stories.

Through his dedication and diligence over six decades, he became an integral part of the program that changed his family, changed Kentucky, and changed America. He left Farmers RECC with the longest record of any electric cooperative director in Kentucky.

"When I look at Phil Depp, I see honesty, integrity, commitment, loyalty, love of family, and neighbor helping neighbor," said Jackie Browning, president and CEO of Farmers RECC. "Although his service on our board has ended, his work will live on. Phil Depp truly made a difference in the lives of countless people."

When rural electrification swept across Kentucky in the 1930s, the Depp family was one of the first to benefit. Following in the footsteps of his father, Mr. Depp became a Farmers RECC director in April 1941.

His storied tenure included nine years as Farmers RECC's board president, and 22 years as Farmers' representative to the East Kentucky Power Cooperative board, including terms as vice president and secretary/treasurer. Browning calls him a "pioneer and visionary."

Now 95, Mr. Depp once said the secret to long life is "to have absolutely no worries." He raised Angus breeding stock, grown grains and tobacco, and most significantly, spent 40 years showing champion horses across the southeastern United States, including at Madison Square Garden. He and his wife, Doris, have three children and three grandchildren and live in Adair County.

"I enjoyed every moment of this work," said Mr. Depp, who also served as a director for the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives. "Rural electrification is one of hte best things that ever happened to farmers. I feel extremely honored to have been a part of the development of rural Kentucky through our Farmers RECC."

The Farmers RECC family wishes to extend our deepest gratitude and appreciation to Phil and Doris Depp for their loyal and enthusiastic commitment to our cooperative and the cause of rural electrification. Their contributions are a valauable part of our legacy.

In his letter of resignation, Mr. Depp states that his stepping down from the Farmers board was due to declining health and not due to any loss of interest in service to the members fo the cooperative. In fact, he says that his retirement would be in the best interest of the board and the members of the cooperative at this time while he is still able to perform his duties as director.

Mr. Depp goes on to say that during his lifetime, he has observed the development of most of the great inventions and discoveries of modern civilization, such as the advent of the automobile, airplaine, computers, television, cell phones, travel into space, putting an American on the moon, and the development of rural America through the use of electricity.

"I have lived through the Great Depression and through the terms of 18 United States presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to our current and 43rd President, George W. Bush." says Mr. Depp. "That means I have lived through the administrations of almost half of all the U.S. presidents who have ever served this great country! And now I have lived to see the dawn of a new millennium as well."

Phil Depp leaves this parting comment as he retires from Farmers RECC 's board. "Please accept my personal thanks for all your many years of supporting me in my efforts to ensure that Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative has continued to provide the best possible service at the lowest possible cost for all of our people. May God bless each and every one."


Meet Phil Depp: 40-Year Farmers RECC Director
This article appeared in a Farmers RECC Focus in June 1981
Ample power, dependable service and reasonable rates are three aspects of East Kentucky that must be emphasized if the cooperative is to preserve its integrity, according to Phil Depp, vice chairman of East Kentucky's Board of Directors.

Depp, who also serves as Farmers' director, says that of the three, maintaining low rates is the most difficult task facing the cooperative today.

"Our biggest problem is money," declares teh Edmonton native. "The Reagan administration wants to deny rural electrics asscess to the Federal Financing Bank, and the prime interest rate isn't going down. I don't know what we can do about it," he continues, "But it's going to reflect in our costs."

Lower interest rates on loans have been available to East Kentucky through the Federal Financing Bank for years. Recently, however, the Reagan administration announced plans to limit the REA's use of this lending resource.

If the administration has its way, East Kentucky and other electric co-ops across the nation may have to pay higher interest rates, which would ultimately reflect in member-users' bills.

According to Depp, explaining rising rate increases will become more difficult as the cost of living continues to rise. He claims that the attitudes of rural electric consumers have changed dramatically in the 40 years he has served as Farmers' director.

"In the beginning, members could see no wrong with the co-ops,"he explains. "Power was inexpensive, service was reliable, and the farmers and rural families were happy just to have electricity. Because of today's inflation, however, people receiving their power bills are shocked."

Depp believes members' reactions are often unjustified. He calls attention to the fact that outside of interest costs and the escalating price of fuel, the cost of power per kWh has changed very little.

Notwithstanding, Depp syas, "People will pay several thousand dollars for a car they used to buy for $1,500. A farmer pays $40,000 for a tractor that he used to buy for l$4,000.l I can remember buying five gallons of gas for a dollar. Comparatively, electricity hasn't changed that much."

Depp feels that explaining rising rates to member-users is perhaps more difficult for Farmers RECC than for other cooperatives in the East Kentucy system since many areas surrounding the Glasgow co-op are provided somewhat lower-cost power by the Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA was formed in 1933 to provide electricity by developing the entire basin of the Tennessee River.

"People judge their rates by comparing them with their neighbors," he says. "To keep our membership happy, we have to provide low-cost electricity."

The challenge of supplyuing dependable service at the lowest possible cost is why Depp first became involved in the rural electric program.

"Rural electric power is one of the best things that ever happened to farmers. I just wanted to help," he says.

A landowner himself, Depp raises Angus breeding stock and grows grains and tobacco on his two farms. Although he used to show horses and race trotters as a hobby, Depp gave that up in order to spend more time with his children.

"I couldn't handle my horses and my children too," he jokes. Quick to show family portraits to interest observers, Depp explains that although he is honored to be vice chairman and proud of his work with the cooperative, his family remains his greatest source of pride.


Meet Your Director: Phil Depp
This article appeared in a Farmers RECC newsletter in 1947
Phil Depp, the youngest and one of the hardest working directors, has been on the staff of this cooperative for five years. Phil lives near Edmonton, Kentucky, and, with his brother, Robert, operates a 300-acre general farm. On this farm the Depp Brothers produce beef cattle on the cow-calf plan and also quite a number of hogs. However, the main specialty on the Depp Farm is poultry production and Phil is directly responsible for this phase of the work.

Phil has one of the most modern and one of the largest poultry houses in the state. The annual production is approximately 2,500 chickents. At present, however, he has only 800 hens in the laying department. Phil is a member of the Barren Poultry Association and in 1945 his flock won first prize in the state on egg production.

In 1943 Phil started out with 600 New Hampshire babby chicks and since that time has retained the same stock and enlarged the number each year. He is very fond of this New Hampshire breed of Chickens because they combine the qualities of the Leghorn in egg production plus the medium-heavy meat producing quality of the Rhode Island Red.

During the last twelve months the egg production from Phil's flock has been better than 20,000 dozen, all of which indicated that for him poultry raising is far from being a hobby. It is definitely on a very high paying basis.

Phil uses electricity for brooding his baby chicks because it is both economical and labor saving--being entirely automatic and requiring minimum amount of attention.

He also uses automatic electric water warmers to keep the poultry drinking water at the proper temperature.

When asked if electric lighting in the poultry boosts egg production, Phil stated, "It certainly does, and especially during the winter months when eggs are high."

His flock of birds are at present up to 80% production. According to Phil the secret to this all time high in egg production is the use of electric lights on dark days and throughout the long winter nights. Also having a comfortable poultry house and using plenty of the proper feed are of utmost importance, too.

Each year Phil's flock of chickens are very carefully culled and graded. Any chicken which does not pass the rigid grading test is immediately elemininated from the others and disposed of. This culling and grading is done by authorized graders and this procedure is of utmost importance in keeping the flock up to proper standards of improvement.

Regarding rural electrification, Phil says, "It is definitely the greathest thing that has ever come for the rural population of this country. It has not only stepped up the standards of living but mainly it has made possible a much greater earning power for hundreds of thousands of farm operators."

Phil Depp is a great deal more than a farmer and REA Co-op director. He is an active member and a booster of all civic organizations. He is director of the Metcalfe County Farm Bureau and a director of the Mammoth Cave Production Credit Association. Also, Phil has a very devout interest and love for good horses. In fact many years of his life wree spent in training and handling show horses in Kentucky and the Carolinas.
Related Stories:

To read the obituary of Phil R. Depp, Click here

To read a an interview written by Geniece Marcum from an interview conducted by Edmonton attorney Herb Sparks, Click here


This story was posted on 2006-08-06 12:01:25
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