Embracing Change and Innovation
Oklahoma Living publisher retires from electric cooperative industry after 40 years of service.
Sid Sperry, retiring Oklahoma Living magazine publisher, leaves a lasting legacy of innovation. Courtesy photo
If you ask Sid Sperry where he grew up, he will tell you he was raised in the “armpit” of Oklahoma. Born in Shattuck and raised in Gage, Sperry is the second born of Calvin and Jo Sperry. His father served as mail carrier on a rural route from Gage to Laverne and his mother worked for banks in Gage and Shattuck. If there’s one thing that Sperry learned from his parents, it was the drive to help others and to make a positive difference. Although as a young man he did not know what career path he would take, he knew he wanted to serve others. Now, as Sperry retires from the industry he dedicated himself to for more than 40 years, he reflects on a lifetime of service.
Sperry graduated from Gage High School; he began his college career at Northwestern State University and while his college experience took some detours and breaks along the way, he earned his bachelor’s in speech communications in 1987.
In December 1980, Sperry made a decision that would ultimately change the course of his life. He applied for a position on the Alfalfa Electric Co-op right-of-way crew. Sperry worked his way up to lineman, after completing a power line technician program from then Indian-Meridian Technology Center in 1982. In 1985, he began doing office work and held job functions in safety, meter testing and communications.
In 1989, Sperry accepted the editor position for Oklahoma Rural News, now Oklahoma Living magazine. In 1990, he served as communications manager at Verdigris Valley Electric Cooperative and returned to the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives (OAEC) as director of marketing & member services in 1992; he remained in this position until given the opportunity to serve as general manager at Northwestern Electric Cooperative. Due to family circumstances, Sperry left this position in 2001 and made his final return to the statewide association, this time as director of public relations, communications & research and publisher of Oklahoma Living magazine.
While Sperry was constantly devoted to learning the industry, he began discovering a new passion. Due to ice storms that brought significant damages to electric cooperative infrastructure, Sperry developed a keen interest in weather and how it impacts utilities. He served as a co-op liaison for FEMA and Oklahoma Emergency Management and was instrumental in helping cooperatives receive FEMA funds for presidentially declared disasters. His growing interest ultimately led Sperry to develop an ice impact algorithm that predicts damage to utility systems from ice accumulation using data from the National Weather Service. Together with meteorologist in charge at the NWS-Tulsa office, Steve Piltz, they developed the SPIA (Sperry-Piltz Ice Accumulation) Index, which met a need in electric and telecommunications industries, showing a spirit of innovation and cooperation. This development led Sperry to institute his own weather company, SPIDI Technologies LLC, which Sperry will continue to operate during his retirement from Oklahoma’s electric cooperatives.
“Sid’s contributions are extremely valued and appreciated. He made our industry better and will be dearly missed by so many,” Chris Meyers, OAEC CEO, said.
When asked what advice he has for younger generations, Sperry said: “Don’t forget the importance of the word cooperative. We don’t get anywhere single handedly. Always be willing to learn and use change to your advantage. Be committed to continuous improvement.”
Sperry’s career has been defined by a legacy of service to others, just as he aspired to as a young boy in Gage, Oklahoma.