North Carolina’s electric cooperatives were founded on the principle of community, with roots stretching back as far as the 1930s and 1940s.
The cooperatives continued to grow through the decades, with each generation picking up the torch and forging a new path for the future of electricity in our state.
In some cases, that torch was passed from family member to family member, creating a multi-generational legacy.
That trend has continued to this day, with one father-son duo that not only shares the same name, but also the same dedication to their communities.
Calling to serve community
Seventeen years ago, Basil Williams Sr. was approached by a Halifax EMC director and invited to join the co-op’s Credentials and Election Committee. This was his introduction into the world of electric cooperatives, and he said he gained valuable insight into the co-op’s significance within the community.
The Board of Directors would eventually appoint Williams Sr. to complete the remainder of a retiring member’s term.
At the conclusion of that term, he was faced with a new decision.
“I felt inspired to run for the board myself. Recognizing the opportunity to address community issues through this role, I was driven by the desire to positively impact my community and ensure comprehensive representation for all members,” said Williams Sr. “My decision to run was solidified by a calling to contribute to community improvement.”
For 17 years, Williams Sr. has proudly served on the Halifax EMC board, playing a vital role in his community and helping shape the policies that power a brighter future for co-op members.
But perhaps his biggest impact – was on the person watching by his side.
“His passion for community service left an enduring impression on me,” said Basil Williams Jr. “Witnessing the positive impact he made on both the cooperative and the community fueled my own interest in pursuing a career with co-ops.”
Following in his footsteps
Basil Williams Jr. said his father’s work became a beacon that motivated him to pursue a career in the cooperative world.
He found his home at Roanoke Cooperative and has filled several roles in his six years at the co-op. Today, Williams Jr. serves as the senior manager of member services and communications.
“Following in my father’s footsteps has been a special journey filled with pride,” said Williams Jr. “It’s given me a sense of responsibility to uphold the legacy he built.”
When he began his career with the cooperatives, Williams Jr. said his father provided him with advice that he still follows to this day.
“He stressed the importance of community engagement, highlighting the cooperative’s role in fostering a sense of belonging and transparent communication,” said Williams Jr. “His words have served as a guiding force, shaping my approach to a member-first mindset.”
As he watches the career that his son is building with the cooperatives, Williams Sr. said he’s proud to see the same dedication to community instilled in his son’s work.
“It brings me immense pride to witness my son’s growth and development in the co-op world,” said Williams Sr. “Observing him apply co-op principles beyond the workplace, particularly in his community involvement with children fills my heart with joy.”