Sherryl Rhinesmith, manager of the shared communications and marketing department of Noble and LaGrange County REMCs, is saying goodbye to those she considers family.
“Working with all the people here is absolutely awesome. We’re a family. I’ve been blessed with, not just one, but two co-op families,” Rhinesmith said. “Both Noble and LaGrange County REMCs have relatively small employee groups where it’s easy to get to know each other. That’s what I’m going to miss the most — the people I work with and the members I’ve met.”
Rhinesmith announced her plans for retirement last year and served her last day at the REMCs on March 29.
She began her career as an accountant for LaGrange County REMC Feb. 1, 1999, before transitioning to the role of member services manager four years later. In 2013, she continued to take on more responsibilities as Noble REMC and LaGrange County REMC joined their communications and marketing teams together as a shared service.
Over the years, communicating with members evolved from writing for Electric Consumer, a few press releases and creating some radio spots to also communicating electronically via the website and social media. In addition to managing the marketing and communications, she oversaw the Energy Advisor programs for each cooperative and worked to develop programs like Co-op Solar and EnviroWatts.
Rhinesmith hopes as younger generations become members, they see value in the cooperative as those before them were able to see more tangibly.
“There still are some who remember when poles were set and wires were strung, so it means something to them. They knew from the get-go that they were members, that their parents worked hard, a group of farmers banded together to get electricity to our rural communities. The younger generation doesn’t have that connection,” Rhinesmith said. “We want to be relevant and have value for all of our members.”
Rhinesmith said one of the highlights of her career was serving as photographer on two Honor Flights for northeast Indiana veterans, for which the REMCs are sponsors. The honor was humbling and indescribable, she said.
She’s also served as president of the Marketing, Member Services and Communicators section of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. Last year, she received the C. Tom Taylor Member Services Award, which is presented annually to an Indiana electric cooperative member services, marketing and communications employee who has demonstrated excellence in leadership, attitude and commitment to electric cooperative principles.
Over the years, she’s also been a leader in the community and served on various boards of local organizations.
“I have enjoyed working with and getting to know Sherryl over the last few years. She has been a great role model and leader for both organizations,” CEO Ron Raypole said. “Sherryl is leaving us with an awesome shared services program and will be missed by all. I wish her the very best as she enters the next chapter of her life.”
Rhinesmith will stay a vital part of the community, continuing to serve on the Parkview LaGrange Hospital Board and hoping to begin teaching porcelain art classes.
She lives in rural Wolcottville with her husband, Bob, and plans to spend part of her retirement traveling and visiting family.