The End of an Era

Lane Electric’s attorney Chuck Fadeley retires

Story and photos by Craig Reed

Chuck Fadeley catches up with Rick Crinklaw, former Lane Electric general manager, at Chuck’s retirement party.

For 58 years, a Fadeley has represented Lane Electric Cooperative on legal matters.

That run came to an end on June 30 when Chuck Fadeley retired as the co-op’s attorney.

Chuck succeeded his father, Ed, in 1989. Ed had held the position since 1964.

The Fadeley name has now retired from the co-op industry.

“I’m going to miss it, but it was time,” says Chuck, 65. “I feel very fortunate to have had this career working with good people for a good cause. It’s been a great career for me—the best a lawyer could ever have.”

In addition to Lane Electric, Chuck was the legal representative for Hood River Electric Cooperative, West Oregon Electric Cooperative, the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Pioneer Utility Resources, which publishes Ruralite. He previously retired from those organizations.

Lane Electric board members and staff hosted a retirement party for Chuck in May at the co-op’s office.

Experiencing co-ops through his father’s work and believing in the co-op mission led Chuck to apply for the position when his dad announced his intention to retire. Chuck had attended some co-op board meetings with his father and, occasionally, had sat in Ed’s place.

“I really like that area of law, and I always believed in the co-op mission, which is providing reliable service at a reasonable price to the family at the end of the line as well as the family in town,” Chuck says. “I’ve also felt an essential service like electricity should be sold on a nonprofit basis. That’s especially appropriate where most of the power comes from a public asset like the Columbia River.”

Rick Crinklaw was Lane Electric’s general manager when Chuck succeeded Ed.

“I had lots of trust in Chuck,” Rick says. “Chuck would listen very quietly, very intently. Then he would speak up and let us know what we couldn’t do, then tell us how we could get to where we wanted to go. That type of counsel was always wonderful.”

At a retirement party in May, Lane Electric board members had kind words for the retiring lawyer.

“We’re going to miss his institutional knowledge—we’re going to miss that a lot,” said Susan Knudsen Obermeyer, president of the co-op’s board of directors. “We’re going to miss you.”

Board member Chris Seubert noted “Chuck watches the room. If something doesn’t fit, he makes sure there’s a proper way so it does fit.”

ORECA Executive Director Ted Case said, “Chuck is not a show horse, he’s a work horse. We thank him for all he did for ORECA.” Debi Wilson, Lane’s general manager and previously the co-op’s chief financial officer, has worked with Chuck the past 24 years.

“He is the kind of attorney every co-op wants,” Debi says. “He advises us in a way that finds the balance of protecting the co-op while giving us the room to do the work we need to do. He approaches issues from the perspective of how something can be done rather than it just can’t be done, or it would be very difficult to do. He will be greatly missed, and I wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Chuck has served as the co-op’s attorney since 1989.

Chuck says a highlight for him during his years with Lane Electric was attending the co-op’s five district meetings where members could hear reports from management and staff and ask questions. He also remembers being involved in documentation of the partnership between Lane Electric, King Estate Winery in Lorane and a solar energy company that resulted in 4 acres of solar panels being installed at the vineyard.

“At that point, it was the only solar array at a winery, I think, in the country,” Chuck says. “It was good for King Estate, good for Lane Electric, good for the environment. We didn’t have a road map for that project. We had to figure it out on our own, and the success is why it’s so satisfying to me.”

Chuck says Lane Electric has the approach of doing things the right way from the beginning while looking ahead to possible issues and developing plans to deal with them.

With Chuck now retired from co-op work, Ray Kindley, a lawyer with an office in West Linn, represents Lane Electric on legal matters.

Chuck is not entirely retired, however. He was recently reelected for 6 more years as the Deschutes County justice of the peace. He holds court in La Pine, Redmond and Sisters, and deals mainly with traffic tickets and small claims.

“I hope not to see you there,” he says with a laugh.