Throwback Thursday: The woman who helped incorporate Basin Electric

On May 5, 1961, 69 people from several states gathered at the Patterson Hotel in Bismarck, North Dakota, to sign Articles of Incorporation for Basin Electric. Among them was Edna C. ”Pete” Hanlon, the only woman of Basin Electric’s original incorporators. She signed the Articles of Incorporation as Mrs. V.T. Hanlon, as was customary at the time.

Edna’s daughter, Pamela Hanlon Hanley, recalls her mother telling her about the signing at the time. “She was very proud of that, and as a young girl at the impressionable age of 14, I was duly impressed!”

Edna Hanlon signing the Articles of Incorporation for Basin Electric.

“Reading the profiles of the other signatories brings back many memories for me,” Pamela said. “Some of them I met in person, and some I recall from hearing my parents talk about Basin Electric over the dinner table. We talked a lot about rural electrification at home when I was growing up. As anyone who worked with my dad knew, he was never one to leave his work in the office (Virgil Hanlon formerly served as general manager of Class A member East River Electric Power Cooperative). And my mother so enjoyed keeping up with it all. Long after he died, she would recall his work and talk about the men he worked with, and many of their wives whom she got to know over the years."

More about Edna

Edna Petersen was born on Sept. 6, 1910, to Louis and Mamie Petersen. She grew up in the Arlington, South Dakota, area and attended General Beadle State College (now Dakota State University) in Madison, South Dakota.

She met Virgil "V.T." Hanlon while they were both teaching in Alcester, South Dakota. She taught primary school. Virgil and Edna were married in 1938. In 1951, they moved to Madison after he was named general manager of the newly formed East River Electric Power Cooperative and after the co-op established its headquarters there. Virgil died in 1969.

Edna moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and spent winters in Naples, Florida. In 1998, she moved back to Sioux Falls as a permanent resident. Since early 2005, she had been living at King Street Assisted Living and Nursing Home in a suburb of New York City. She died on March 25, 2010, at the age of 99.

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