Two Named to Kansas Cooperative Hall of Fame

Larry Krehbiel and L. Earl Watkins were recently inducted into the Kansas Cooperative Hall of Fame during a special dinner ceremony in conjunction with the annual meeting activities of the Kansas Cooperative Council (KCC) and Kansas Farmers Service Association (KFSA). 

Larry Krehbiel was honored posthumously, having passed away in 2014, for his more than 60 years of service to agricultural cooperatives.  As manager, he helped create Mid-Kansas Cooperative in Moundridge during the 1960’s and saved the Iuka Cooperative Exchange (now Kanza Cooperative Association) from financial insolvency in the early 1980’s, paving the way for its success today. While working with Farmland Industries during the 1970’s he was responsible for the training and placement of an entire generation of cooperative managers.  He spent his entire life in the co-op industry – working in them, supporting them, helping them and promoting them, in U.S. and in Eastern Europe.

Earl Watkins’ contribution to the cooperative rural electric’s industry spans over 47 years.  Watkins has spent his entire career serving rural electric cooperatives in western Kansas. He served as General Counsel for Sunflower Electric Power Corporation for nearly 30 years prior to becoming President and CEO of the corporation. At every turn, he demonstrated and lived the cooperative principles. Earl was involved in nearly every local, state and national energy policy debate and was instrumental in building Holcomb Station, Sunflower’s coal-fired generation facility located in in southwest Kansas, which was ahead of its time in regard to environmental controls. Under Earl’s leadership Sunflower continued to seek opportunities and advancements that have made it a viable company with 21st Century capabilities and readiness.

The Kansas Cooperative Hall of Fame was formed in 1999 by the Kansas Cooperative Council to recognize cooperative pioneers who have been instrumental in developing and spreading the cooperative philosophy on the state, national or international levels. The inductees are nominated by cooperative members and the annual selection of new Hall of Fame members is based on recommendation by a committee of cooperative leaders from across Kansas with approval by the KCC Board of Directors.

All inductees are honored in a permanent display at the Kansas Cooperative Hall of Fame exhibit, located in the Pride of Kansas Building on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.