September 2018

Paint a wall, learn to dance, make a friend

By Sean J. Vanslyke

Roger Neumeyer

“He was a great leader because he followed the greatest leader,” said Danny Kuykendall about his friend Roger Neumeyer. Roger, age 53, passed away on Tuesday, July 24 at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, while on vacation with his family.

You may not know Roger, but he was a friend of mine. Roger was a great husband and father. He was active in the community. And he was the Senior Plant Manager at Associated Electric Cooperative’s (AECI) New Madrid Power Plant. He started his career with AECI in 1989 and had served as the Plant Manager since 2007. He was recently promoted to Senior Plant Manager. AECI generates electricity for your home, farm and/or business. SEMO Electric Cooperative delivers it. Roger was a part of our cooperative family.

In the mid-80s, Roger and I attended college together at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo. We didn’t know each other well, but Roger played football and I was the campus photographer. I am sure I have (somewhere) black and white photographs of Roger playing. 

In 2012, when I joined SEMO Electric Cooperative, we became reacquainted and started quarterly lunch meetings. About every three months (or six based on our schedules), each of us invited a couple of staff members to join us for discussions. We did this to help our teams connect the dots between generating electricity and delivering electricity. We talked best practices. We gave each other ideas. And we always discussed how we work for you – the member-consumer at the end of the line.  Over the years, we developed something special between our teams. Team SEMO visited the power plant and the power plant staff visited SEMO Electric.  

When we attended the visitation and funeral for Roger, it was overwhelming to see the number of people who showed up to pay respect to Roger and his family. He made a positive difference in many people’s lives. Roger’s legacy is intact.

One last thought. I have taken thousands of photographs in my lifetime. But, I don’t have a photograph of Roger and me. However, someday I am going to dig through my negatives with a hope and a prayer to find a photograph of Roger playing football. Perhaps his wife Lisa and their three daughters would enjoy it.

Goodbye Roger. Requiescat in pace.

Appreciate Father Time

During a recent weekend, my son Parker, 16, and I spent 20 hours to earn our Missouri Motorcycle Safety Program’s (MMSP) Motorcycle Rider Course Completion Certificate. The course included eight hours of classroom work, including a 50-question knowledge written test, and 12 hours of outdoor riding that concluded with an on-motorcycle skill test.

Prior to the course, we had never met MMSP’s RiderCoach Ray Nichols or classmate Mike Mercurio, 55, who has been riding motorcycles his entire life. Ray, nearing retirement, has been an instructor for 13 years. Parker used to race motorcycles on dirt and my riding experience was extremely limited. However, earning my motorcycle license and passing the skill test was on my bucket list. 

The program was outstanding because of three things: 1) the quality time spent with Parker, 2) Ray was a terrific instructor and coach, 3) and the safety lessons we learned are applicable to other parts of our lives. For example, Ray said “ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety and learning. You must let me know if you become uncomfortable. Choose safety first.”

While passing the knowledge test and the skill test proved that old dogs can learn, it was watching Parker learn and interact with Mike and Ray that truly made the weekend special. It was a good reminder that we should try to enjoy each day with each other. Country music artist Kenny Chesney sums it up in his new song Get Along: “Always give love the upper hand; Paint a wall, learn to dance; Call your mom, buy a boat; Drink a beer, sing a song; Make a friend, can't we all get along.”

Book of the Month

“You want to have enough skill to manage the risks you take. Risk offset is the difference between the risks you take and the skill you possess. Good risk offset is when skill exceeds risk. Bad risk offset is when risk exceeds skill. Good riders make sure they have plenty of good risk offset.” Motorcycle Safety Foundation – Rider Handbook 

Be smart. Act safe.


Vanslyke is general manager and chief executive officer of SEMO Electric Cooperative. The photo is of Sean, MMSP instructor Ray Nichols, son Parker and classmate-rider Mike Mercurio during a break at the Missouri Motorcycle Safety Program’s rider course. 

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