Un poco de todo. It means “a bit of everything” and best describes Brenda Rowell’s work history that spans five decades, including 13+ years here at Okefenoke REMC. A St. Marys, Georgia, native, Brenda, senior customer service representative in OREMC’s Kingsland office, is a familiar face around Camden County with her easy smile and cheery “hello.” But at age 69, she has decided it is time to retire so she can do other things.
Brenda’s work life began at Wright-Evans Hardware Store after she married her husband and they had moved back to St. Marys, following his assignment in California with the Navy. More than just a hardware store, the business also poured concrete, built septic systems, sold appliances and featured a gift shop. It was Brenda’s job to keep the books, work the floor and as she recalls, “Well, do a little bit of everything.”
Next she worked at Western Auto until she became pregnant with her son. It was then she decided to “keep kids.” Brenda notes, “I had 15 kids ranging in age from baby to school age. The bus used to drop the kids off at my house. Having a swimming pool in the back yard, all the kids learned how to swim, thanks to my daughters.”
It was the mother of one of the children that suggested Brenda’s next adventure should be in real estate. Once her son was in second grade, she did indeed get her real estate license and was a realtor for six years. In between, she hung wallpaper and handmade adoption dolls that she sold and shipped throughout the United States.
That was until she saw an ad in the paper for a receptionist at Coastal Vision Center. Brenda took the job and was the office manager there for 12 years before being recruited to Wright Eye Care. Her work life had come full circle as Julie Wright, O.D., practice owner, is the daughter of Wright-Evans who owned the hardware store Brenda had worked at years before.
Taking a new path, Brenda came to work at Okefenoke REMC on December 27, 2005. She says, “Liz Foskey, who I hired while working at Coastal Vision Center, hired me as a customer service representative (CSR) in the Kingsland Office. Okefenoke Rural Electric immediately felt like home. I started as a CSR and then became an engineering clerk. Royce Proctor was my boss. I had so much fun working with Royce and taking trips out in the field to learn how what I did in the office related to the operations side of the business.”
Brenda says it is those experiences that have made her a better senior CSR. Keeping with her work theme she states, “Here we do it all. There are two of us to answer phones, handle the drive-up, greet members in the lobby, and I also retained my duties as an engineering clerk. That means assisting General Foreman Mike Boatright managing, tracking and closing out service orders, getting locates from other utilities relative to construction jobs and posting construction charges.”
Thinking about what she will miss most about OREMC Brenda doesn’t hesitate in saying, “The people. I have always worked with people and here at Okefenoke everyone is friendly, helpful and would do anything for me. We are like one big family and I wish I had worked my entire work life here. I have enjoyed being part of such a great company.” She gives a special nod to her fellow Kingsland CSR LaNancy Moody and how well they have worked together. “We are a good team and have each other’s back,” says LaNancy in agreement. “She has been a great partner.”
In retirement Brenda wants to continue doing a bit of everything: be available to take care of her parents, spend time with her children and grandchildren and travel with her husband of 51 years. “I would like to go to Alaska again, visit Yellowstone and go to Maine . . . I’ve never been to Maine and I have family that lives there.” Additionally, her good friend Annette of 50 years has plans for the two of them to shop, dine and play at the beach.
Brenda’s advice to those who might follow in her footsteps at OREMC, “Do your best and be friendly to our members, whether it is in the office or when they see you at Wal-Mart and have a question. To them, you are Okefenoke Rural Electric.”