Zipperts hold plaque and statute awarded by Co-op HOF. L. to R. Myra Bryant, Mississippi Co-op Development Center; John and Carol Zippert; Cornelius Blading, Executive Director of the Federation; Carrie Fulghum and Shirley Blakley, Federation Board members and Attorney Monica Rainge, Federation’s Land Retention Director.
At a ceremony last Wednesday night, May 3, 2017, John and Carol Zippert were inducted into the National Cooperative Hall of Fame for a lifetime of service to the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the cooperative movement overall. This is the highest honor that a cooperative development leader in this country can attain.
John and Carol who met and married in Louisiana in the mid 1960’s while working on civil rights and cooperative development were honored for 50 years of work with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. They moved to the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center, near Epes in Sumter County in 1971. They moved from Epes to Greene County in 1976. They have been the co-publishers of the Greene County Democrat, weekly newspaper since 1985.
The Co-op Hall of Fame induction took place at the National Press Club in Washington, D. C. and was in part a fundraiser for the work of the Cooperative Development Foundation, a non-profit foundation affiliated with the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA).
The Zipperts were inducted as a couple along with Rita L. Haynes, CEO emeritus of Faith Community United Credit Union, John D. Johnson, retired president and CEO of CHS Inc.; Richard Larochelle, retired senior vice president of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation. In conjunction with the induction ceremony, a public forum on cooperative development and leadership was held that afternoon.
“Induction into the Cooperative Hall of Fame is reserved for those who have made genuinely heroic contributions to the cooperative community. The 2017 inductees join a host of extraordinary Hall of Fame members who have contributed significantly to the advancement of the cooperative movement,” said Gasper Kovach, Jr., board chair of the Cooperative Development Foundation, which administers the Hall of Fame.
Each of the recipients received a glass blown statute of the two pine trees that symbolize the cooperative movement. The inductee’s organization received a copy of the brass plaque that will hang in the official Co-op HOF in Washington D. C., to hang in the organization’s offices.
At the afternoon panel, the inductees were given the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their lifetime of work in organizing, supporting and managing cooperatives and credit unions. John spoke of his work in developing some of the cooperatives in Louisiana, which formed the Federation with other co-ops around the South that were supported by the civil rights movement. John spoke to his work for five decades in building the Federation, its member cooperatives and the Rural Training and Research Center at Epes.
John invited the 300 leaders from cooperatives across the nation to attend the Federation’s 50th Annual Meeting celebration, August 17 – 19, 2017 in Birmingham and Epes. (More information on the Federation’s 50 th anniversary is available at www.federation.coop).
Carol spoke about her work with cooperatives starting in the early 1960’s as a high school and college student. After moving to Epes as a couple in 1971, Carol served as a lifelong volunteer with the Federation and other cooperatives and civic organizations. She helped to organize the FOGCE Federal Credit Union in 1975 to serve the people of Greene County. She has served on the credit union’s board of directors since its establishment and currently serves as Board Chair. She has helped build FOGCE-FCU as a community financial institution with assets that have grown from $25,000 to $1.4 million over the past 42 years.
Carol also serves as an elected member of the Greene County School Board and has worked with the Society of Folk Arts and Culture for more than four decades putting on the Black Belt Folk Arts Festival, each year on the fourth Saturday and Sunday in August to celebrate Greene County musicians, artists, artisans and food specialists.
“Receiving this honor caused both of us to reflect on our lives of service and support for the community. It was an impressive ceremony to honor us and our work with and in the communities of Greene County, west Alabama and the nation,” said Carol.
For more information on the Cooperative Hall of Fame contact the Cooperative Development Foundation at 1775 Eye Street in Washington, D. C. 20006; and at www.cdf.coop and www.heroes.coop.