Electric cooperatives often use the phrase “reliable service” to describe how they provide power to their members.

But the recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Service Award from the Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives took “reliable service” to a whole new level.

For 50 years, Sheila Switzer was a valuable constant at Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative, based in New Castle, Va., filling any role needed, always putting members first and serving no fewer than 11 general managers.

Switzer was presented with the honor and a floral arrangement during a July 25 awards luncheon, which was part of the VMD Association’s annual meeting at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va.

She retired in 2020 after an astounding half-century of service at CBEC. The award cited her “heart of a true servant leader, with a strong work ethic,” noting her contributions to CBEC and the VMD Association in the fields of communications, human resources and executive duties during her long career which started in March 1970.

“Since then, she has done an excellent job doing most of all the inside jobs at the cooperative, as well as training and supervising many of the inside workers,” CBEC Director James Huffman said in presenting her to the awards luncheon. “Many a former manager gave her credit for keeping them straight.”

Accompanied by friends and CBEC colleagues, Switzer said she was grateful for the honor, given annually to a cooperative representative who demonstrates service above and beyond the call of duty. “I want to truly thank Craig-Botetourt for helping to make this possible,” she said. “It was wonderful working for Craig-Botetourt. I miss you all.”

Jeff Ahearn, CEO of Craig-Botetourt, said the award was “a great thing” for the co-op. “The years of dedication that Sheila had with the cooperative just embodies the cooperative spirit.”