KINGSTON, Tenn. (AP) — William Newby, the longest-serving employee in the history of the Tennessee Valley Authority, died Nov. 26 of natural causes at his home. He was 85.
An Alabama native and World War II veteran, “Mr. Newby,” as he was known throughout the nation’s largest public utility, liked to say he married twice in 1941: first to his bride, Sarah, and a few months later to the TVA.
“I came here in 1953 when it was a hole in the ground,” the electrical engineer told the Associated Press in a 2001 interview, referring to the nine-boiler Kingston Fossil Plant. When the station was finished in 1955, he transferred to maintenance. “I’ve been here ever since,” he said.
After 64 years, Mr. Newby was still on the payroll when he died, TVA spokesman John Moulton said.
“He was the simplest and purest of TVA ideals wrapped into one man,” said Jim Cordell, electrical control building operator at the Kingston plant.
“Back before politics, land swaps for money and a debt that has skyrocketed over the years, Bill Newby helped usher in the ideal of the TVA Act: flood control, cheap electricity and jobs for the valley,” he said.
Mr. Cordell called him an “inspiration through example” respected by craftsmen, laborers and managers alike. “When he talked, we all listened,” Mr. Cordell said.
Mr. Newby is survived by his wife; six children; seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.