Looking back

Posted on May 29 2019 in Noble REMC
Bob Lortie, at right with Noble REMC CEO Ron Raypole, is retiring after 42 years as the District 1 director.

He’s served the cooperative nearly the length of two generations, but now he’s ready to move on to give the next generation an opportunity to lead.


Director Bob Lortie will be handing over the reins of the District 1 seat he’s held for 42 years at this year’s annual meeting and picnic. District 1 includes Perry and Elkhart townships in Noble County and part of Benton Township in Elkhart County.

With a recent decision to move out of his district area, he became ineligible to serve on the board in his District 1 seat. But since he’s moving west of Kendallville, to a property on REMC lines, he laughed as he joked that he just “might have to run against Rick” Robertson, the current District 2 director.

With the move as his initial catalyst for his decision, he realized he also wanted to give others an opportunity to lead the cooperative.

“It’s a great organization with fantastic employees,” Lortie said. “It’s time for someone younger to take over.”

At 76 years old, Lortie has seen the co-op transition and evolve over the past four decades, changing alongside the advancement in technology.

He remembered starting his service at the REMC when it was located on Main Street, where Central Noble School Corporation’s central office is currently housed. Then the co-op moved into its current headquarters on Weber Road, he explained. And then it was remodeled. And then it was added on to.

When he started, Noble REMC didn’t own any substations. Now we’ve built five and purchased one. 

He’s seen four different managers and CEOs lead the cooperative, and was part of the transition to advanced metering infrastructure.

But his favorite experience? The relationships.

“The whole co-op system is a family organization, from statewide to neighboring counties to those you meet at functions like the annual meeting,” Lortie said.

The Albion native who graduated from Albion-Jefferson High School won’t be going too far. Already retired from his work as a district manager for a nutritional company, he’ll use his additional free time to play more golf and travel a bit.

The next District 1 director will have large shoes to fill, but Lortie knows that person will do just fine.

“Don’t be scared,” Lortie said. “It’s a learning curve.”