By Kevin Wilson
When Donnie Massey joined the Roosevelt County Telephone Cooperative as a lineman at the age of 19, he never counted on this.
“It was just a job,” Massey said. “I figured I’d move on when I found something better.”
When Massey found jobs he liked better, they were within the cooperative, and he retired after a career that included four decades, several awards and commendations and countless changes in the telecommunications industry.
Massey moved up through the company, eventually becoming its CEO and executive vice president. He helped oversee the company through several new technologies, including fiber optic systems and cellular phones.
“Of course, it created more work but seeing a challenge is exciting,” Massey said. “It gives you something to strive for. When you bring something to the people that they can use, it’s a good feeling. It’s an accomplishment.”
Cecile Archibeque started at the cooperative 25 years ago as a receptionist and eventually moved up to office manager. Massey has been a coworker throughout, and Archibeque said he was “very enjoyable to work for.
“He’s been a role model and a leader for all of us here,” Archibeque continued. “People really respected Donnie in the industry, and that was really evident with all the awards he’d received.”
Coworkers agreed that Massey was pretty serious when he was on the job. In fact, the joke he’s most famous for, he claims no reponsibility.
On a table where Massey’s awards sat during a reception Saturday at First United Methodist Church, there was a bottle of ketchup. Massey said the bottle was sent to him by an employee at a telephone cooperative in Artesia.
Massey expalined that employees from the two cooperatives would socialize with each other at conferences, and several got together for a dinner one night. While she left for the restroom, a member of the party placed a bottle of ketchup in her purse, and she never discovered it until the next day when she was shopping.
Massey said he had nothing to do with the joke, but he gets reminded of the joke from time to time.
“We’ve been going back and forth with the ketchup,” Massey said with a half-smile. “She still believes I put the ketchup in her purse.”
Massey also helped the community during his time. He helped secure an $836,000 grant for the Roosevelt General Hospital,
Boyd Evans, a former coworker and longtime friend of Massey, is a member of the hospital board.
“He was instrumental in getting a very large loan for equipment,” Evans said. “and he gave me my old office down (at the cooperative) for 26 months (for hospital administrator James D’Agostino).”
Massey didn’t think much of his chartiy work, other than how it seemed like the right thing to do.
“I think it’s important that we are a part of the community,” Massey said. “We try to support just about everything that happens in the community.”
Scott Arnold was promoted to replace Massey. When Arnold was hired by Massey in 1980 to pull lines, the company had about eight to 10 employees. Now, there are nearly 40 employees and the cooperative covers 3,355 square miles.
“I’ve learned a lot from Donnie and I’m very appreciative of him,” Arnold said. “He will be missed greatly by Roosevelt County Telephone Cooperative.”