Walter R. Ryan

Three Rivers Electric Cooperative— Inducted in 2013


Best known for his leadership at the helm of a Rural Electric Cooperative, Walt Ryan started his cooperative career working for the local farm co-op, while he finished high school. Walt worked for MFA Incorporated off and on for 10 years in a variety of capacities doing a little bit of everything. Walt served as a field man, worked in the feed mill, kept books for the grain operation and worked at the MFA Petroleum service station sometimes delivering gas or driving the semi. Walt recalls the value of his experience at MFA, working with a lot of good people.  Walt spent his entire career, some 48 years, in the cooperative world – rising from pumping gas to serving two different cooperatives as the chief executive.


In 1967, Walt went across the street to work for the REC – first at Sac-Osage Electric Cooperative, next at Black River Electric Cooperative from 1970 to 1981. Walt served as general manager of Howard Electric Cooperative from 1981 to 1990 and as general manager of Three Rivers Electric Cooperative from 1990 to 2005.


During his career Walt also served for 15 years on the board of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and on the board of Central Electric Power. In addition, Walt served as president of the Missouri Food and Energy Council; president of the Missouri Farm Electrification Council, to promote safe and practical use of electricity on the farm; and also served on the committee to write the first Wiring Handbook for Missouri Electric Cooperatives.


Walt was never a “Rah Rah” type leader. Instead Walt chose to lead by example.  His leadership style motivated many of his employees, inspiring many to further their cooperative careers. Walt never wavered from his No. 1 priority – serving the co-op membership in the best way possible.


Walt is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for both his professional and community leadership, including a proclamation from the Missouri House of Representatives and the A.C. Burrows Award in 2006 for outstanding service to improve cooperative and community. In addition, Walt has twice been awarded the Jaycees Distinguished Service Award in two different communities. He is the recipient of Honorary Chapter Farmer award from several FFA Chapters.


Walt Ryan’s cooperative career exemplifies leadership, giving above and beyond, to strengthen and improve his cooperative and community.



exemplary commitment to cooperatives and community; a lifetime of leadership by example; inspiration for the next generation; an 48 years of service to Missouri cooperatives