Retired CEO leaves behind huge community impact

After being a huge part of the Umatilla County community for his whole life, Steve Eldrige is retiring from his position as CEO of the Umatilla Electric Cooperative after 44 years with the company.

"Looking back on it, it seems like just yesterday when I walked in the door and wondered where my office was going to be," said Eldrige.

In over two decades as CEO he's done more than grow this company.

His former assistant said he is heavily involved in the community, remodeling a church, rennovating an elementary school, coaching youth sports...the list goes on.

"He cares and I think he sincerely cares and those that have participated in those projects with him know that," said Eldrige's former assistant Tami Sinor.

He's not your typical CEO, locked away in an office all day.

The community knows his face well and so do his employees, especially when they go through difficult times.

"He is always the first one to hand write a card, send a note...something," said Sinor.

However, when Sinor's dad died, she said he was more than just her boss.

"I saw him---Kathy and him walking across to participate in my father's service. He was there for---for me which really meant a lot," said Sinor while getting emotional.

"He took time out of his busy world with his family and came to my father's service to support me," she said.

Over the years Eldrige has been on several important boards and committees within the community including his service on the local hospital board, which he plans to continue.

"I just try to do what I think is needed to be done," said Eldrige.

Eldrige remembers coming to the UEC in 1972, he had initially thought that he was going to be with a different company in Portland.

However, he's happy he stayed at the UEC, a company providing electricity to so many.

"I was doing something that mattered, it mattered what Umatilla Electric was doing and I was a part of that," said Eldrige.

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