Late Joe Preddy remembered by Cassville community
Lifelong Cassville resident leaves legacy of selflessness
A Cassville native and lifelong resident, Joe Preddy, 86, left a mark on the city that will not be forgotten.
Described by his daughter, Annette Henderson, as a quiet man and strong leader, Preddy may not have had too many words, but he has left a legacy of volunteerism and selflessness with his actions.
"Cherry Warren, [Barry County presiding commissioner], told me my dad did not have a mean bone in his body," Henderson said. "He would do jobs that just needed doing, and you didn't have to ask him to do any of it. He spent a lot of time behind the scenes making sure everything was taken care of."
Henderson said Preddy's endearment to the area was fostered by his parents and grandparents, who have all lived in Barry County since the 1800s. His childhood home was on Grade School Hill, now 7th Street.
Preddy spent much of his time working at the Barry Electric Cooperative. The company was the only place Preddy had ever worked at, beginning one year after his 1946 graduation from Cassville High School, and serving as general manager from 1967-1990.
"He was totally work-oriented, and he involved his whole family in his work," Henderson said. "We were a part of every project he got into, even on Saturdays and after-hours. He raised [my brother] Paul [Preddy] and I to serve in any way we could for our community, our neighbors and our church."
In addition to serving his community, Joe Preddy also served his country, completing a two-year stint in the U.S. Army, from 1951-1953.
After returning from the service, he resumed his job with Barry Electric, and in 1991, he was awarded the A.C. Burrows Service Award from the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. The award was in recognition of his leadership in rural electrification, distinguished by his dedication to helping others.
Bill Shiveley, who took over as general manager after Preddy's retirement, said he met Preddy personally before he worked with him professionally, as Preddy was a neighbor of his wife's aunt.
"I first met him in the early 1970s and went to work for him in 1974," Shiveley said. "While I had an application into Barry Electric, I was at my wife's aunt's house helping her with some mechanical stuff and he came over and talked to me about how we could get me on board [at Barry Electric]."
Shiveley said when he became general manager, he knew he had some big shoes to fill.
"I started on a truck as a lineman and then moved to operations supervisor and assistant manager, then when he decided to retire, he told me if I was interested in the job to be ready to tell the board," Shiveley said. "He was my mentor along the way and pushed me in that direction."
Shiveley said even after Preddy's retirement, he remained connected to the business as a dispatcher, and he was always available to help Shiveley when needed.
"If I ever had any questions, he was always open to me and would always give me some help," Shiveley said.
Their relationship extended past the office, as Shiveley said Preddy was one of his closest friends.
"He had the most integrity of anyone I have ever met," Shiveley said. "He was the most dedicated in anything he did and always gave 100 percent, and if he saw anything in the community that needed done, like picking up paper of trimming bushes, he would just do it and move on.
"He also knew I wasn't the best gardener, and he loved to garden. So, he would always ask me if I needed any tomatoes or beets or strawberries, and he wouldn't just bring me a little. He would bring me enough for a whole week at least."
Preddy was a member of the United Methodist Church, where he and his family attended all of his life. He was a member of the Cassville Rotary Club and served as president in 1986, and recipient of a Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary.
Preddy was active in the Cassville Chamber of Commerce during his working years and received the Community Service Award from the Chamber in 1988, citing his years of service to the Chamber, twice serving as president of the organization and numerous times as board member. His recognition also covered extensive cooperation toward industrial development in the Cassville community.
"It was always about service," Henderson said. "That's what he knew and that's how he raised us. He had a compassion for people in all situations."
Henderson pointed to the lack of sleep in the house as an example of her father's dedication.
"When he would get a call at home about someone's power being out, he would send out a crew, and then nobody in the household slept until the crew got back in and dad signed off the radio," she said. "He and my mom also spent a lot of time taking care of our neighbors."
Henderson said another example of her father's selflessness was his contributions to the American Red Cross. The Red Cross sent a letter to Preddy in recognition of his donations, from 1953 to 2008, totaling more than 25 gallons of blood.
"That right there showed me how much he really wanted to help people," she said.
Shiveley said Preddy was an even-keeled man who always took things as they came.
"I never really saw him upset, and he took everything in stride," Shiveley said. "He was a man of integrity and treated everyone the same."
Henderson said since his death, the community has been a strong source of support for her and her family.
"The community has been great," she said. "Our family is very touched by the kindness and wonderful words spoken about my dad."