Thomas E. Hueners might have retired to his farm south of Winfred, but he’s not finished winning awards. Hueners was inducted Tuesday night into the South Dakota Cooperative Hall of Fame at Cedar Shore Resort in Oacoma. Accompanied by his family and fellow coop members, Hueners accepted the award for his 40 years of service on the board of directors for TrioTel Communications (formerly McCook Cooperative Telephone Company).
Tom’s father John served on the same board for almost 20 years, with Tom taking his place after John passed away in 1973. Together they represent six decades of service to TrioTel, located in Salem, providing telephone, internet, television, and surveillance services, supporting the communications needs of the region for more than 60 years.
Hueners was inducted into the Hall of Fame with two others this year, John D. Johnson of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and Loren Noess, of Mitchell. Hueners and the other two join only 61 other members in the Hall of Fame.
As anyone who has worked with Tom Hueners knows, he works hard to make life better for his family, friends, and neighbors. That desire is a good fit for a local cooperative, which functions to help the community prosper and grow. This dedication was noted in the letters written to support his nomination to the Hall of Fame. “With a calm, quiet disposition, he has led one of the smallest cooperatives in the state of South Dakota to a prosperous and one of the most advanced telecommunications providers in the U.S.,” wrote TrioTel general manager and CEO Bryan Roth.
Hueners has been a farmer for more than 50 years, living and working the farm that his grandfather and his father worked before him, one of the South Dakota Century Farms. He also spent 32 years as a rural mail carrier, driving a route west of Madison.
Hueners recently celebrated 50 years of marriage to his wife Karen, and their three children still live in the area. He and Karen have eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Hueners devotes time to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Howard and spends time working around the farm and enjoying his growing family.
In his acceptance speech, Hueners pointed out what a pleasure it was to serve on the board, noting the support of his family and the other board members. He gave special thanks to his wife Karen, whose support helped make up for time spent traveling and working on board duties.
Hueners continues to serve on the board at TrioTel and serves as the secretary/treasurer, along with Roth, Ron Sandine, Kenny Klinkhammer, Kevin Erikson, Terry Schroeder, Bob Matthaei, and Richard Dewald. C