By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer
After one of the featured speakers at the 1975 NRECA annual meeting in New Orleans finished his presentation, he sat next to Angus Hastings, the association’s Florida director.
The two started speaking, and Hastings invited his new friend to address an upcoming electric cooperative meeting in Jacksonville, Fla. They swapped business cards and for years Hastings carried the card in his wallet that read “Jimmy Carter, Governor of Georgia.”
“He said he did not have many of those printed,” Hastings recalled in 1980, after he’d visited Carter at the White House three times during his presidential term.
In a nutshell, friends say, that typified Angus Hastings. He was the iron man of electric cooperatives, pressing their cause everywhere he went for almost half-a-century, including at the highest levels of government.
A trustee at Clay Electric Cooperative, Hastings, 87, died May 25 in Citra, Fla., following a brief illness. Earlier this year, he concluded 40 years on the NRECA Board, serving a two-year term as president in 1981-82.
“Angus Hastings was an unmatched figure as an advocate for electric cooperatives. Whether it was in his local co-op boardroom or in the halls of Congress, he worked diligently for nearly 50 years on behalf of electric co-ops and their members. His support of ACRE® has ensured that electric co-op voices are heard in the political process,” NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson said. “All of us at NRECA extend our sympathy to his wife Karen, his family and friends. He is part of our co-op family, and he leaves a wonderful legacy of inspirational service.”
As NRECA president, Hastings was a forceful opponent of Reagan administration proposals to scale back support for the rural electrification program.
“None of us were elected as directors or hired as managers of rural electric systems for the purpose of presiding over their liquidation,” he said during an address to the 1982 NRECA annual meeting in Atlanta.
To Hastings, that meant mobilizing co-ops for political battle, a cause he undertook with such fervor on behalf of the Action Committee for Rural Electrification that he was honored as “Mr. ACRE” with a lifetime achievement award in 2013. Hastings’ efforts helped Florida and Clay Electric achieve high membership results in ACRE and Co-op Owners for Political Action.
“On behalf of the board, we’re deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Angus Hastings. We send our love out to Karen and to all his family. He has been a towering figure among electric cooperatives,” said NRECA President Curtis Nolan.
“Early in his co-op career he became a champion for ACRE, a cause for which lived and taught. His contributions to Clay County Electric, the Florida electric cooperatives and NRECA will never find an equal. His perspective, wisdom and experience were the strengths of who he was and how he contributed. The list of those he mentored is long and distinguished. Angus will be missed and remembered with fondness,” Nolan added.
A native of Jacksonville, Hastings was a board member at Clay Electric in Keystone Heights since 1965, serving as president for 10 years. He was a leader in the Florida statewide association, and joined the national board in 1974. As chairman of the building committee, he was instrumental in the construction of NRECA headquarters in Arlington, Va.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hastings family,” said Ricky Davis, Clay Electric’s general manager/CEO. “Angus dedicated almost 50 years to serving Clay Electric members in his own district and across our service area, and was also a state and national leader. We will miss his spirit and his leadership.”
Hastings worked as a meat grader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for about 15 years before embarking on a career in real estate development. He was an active Shriner and made headlines in 1992 when he won the Florida lottery, though it never changed his lifestyle or commitment to work.
“A very big part of my life has been dedicated to being on the board and serving the members,” he said in 2007 of his Clay Electric service. “It’s a task which I take very seriously and with great pride and joy. I thank each and every member for allowing the board to serve them.”