by Kate Knable
Posted 12/3/2012 12:00 am
Ouida Cox, editor of the monthly magazine of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. for more than four decades, plans to retire Jan. 3.
Cox, who is turning 90 on Monday, lives in Little Rock. Her retirement plans include “rest,” she said.
She began working for the magazine, now titled Arkansas Living, in 1949. She became editor in 1968.
Associate Editor Sheila Yount will become the magazine’s editor upon Cox’s retirement.
Cox saw the magazine, which reports on the doings of the 17 electric co-ops associated with Arkansas Electric Cooperatives and their members, change names thrice: from Arkansas REA News to Rural Arkansas in 1964, to Rural Arkansas Living in 2011 to Arkansas Living this year. REA stood for Rural Electrification Administration, the Depression-era government loan program that brought electricity to many parts of Arkansas.
Cox also saw the magazine’s mailing list increase from 84,247 subscribers in 1949 to more than 383,000 subscribers in 2012, according to cooperative spokesman Rob Roedel.
She was the fourth employee ever hired by the co-ops and photographed 11 U.S. presidents, from Harry Truman to George W. Bush, during her time with the magazine, he said. She took part in publishing about 800 editions of the magazine.
Cox wrote, took photographs, laid out pages and edited articles throughout her tenure.
“I didn’t intend to stay when I interviewed for the job,” Cox said. “I loved what I was doing and hopefully [grew] along with it. I went to every workshop there was, and what have you, on photography and layout and writing.”
As one of her final tasks as editor, Cox is working to digitize the magazine’s archives, which date back to its inaugural publication year of 1946.
“It’s an era of history,” she said, noting that AEC was caught up in politics as it worked “to move ahead.”
“We were fighting to grow and bring electricity everywhere,” Cox said.