Authentic - a word that has been used to describe the type of man James “Bo” Albert Ussery Sr. was. And, he was. Authentic. But, he was so much more than that. It’s so very difficult to put into words what he meant to his family and friends and to us, his work family. Other words that can be used to describe his character are determined, hardworking, generous, compassionate and good-hearted, just to name a few.
“He had the biggest heart behind the toughest exterior. He never cut me any slack, or anyone else for that matter. He took his job very seriously, and expected the same 110% out of every one of his co-workers. Working with him made me a better employee and a better person. He was generous, and cantankerous, and serious, and demanding, and animated, and compassionate. He was authentic,” said his friend and co-worker, Penny Bryan.
“He never failed to stop by to chat, to tell you he appreciated what you did, or to lend a hand when someone was in need. He took care of those he loved. If he loved you, you were blessed. There is no way to describe the hole in our hearts, in our work family today. We are forever changed because our paths were entangled with this man. For that, I am grateful. God has an eternal plan for each one of us. He must have needed an amazing serviceman in Heaven. Godspeed, Bo. We love you,” she continued.
These words describe him perfectly. There is, indeed, a hole in our hearts today and every day. Bo was 60 years old and had been working with West Florida Electric Cooperative since July 17, 1987. He recently celebrated 31 years of proudly serving WFEC’s members.
Always there to lend an ear, provide advice or offer a helping hand, Bo was dependable and honest. He’d shoot it to you straight – even if that wasn’t what you wanted to hear. He was also always there to provide a word of encouragement when you needed it.
He was a mentor to many of the younger linemen and other employees working at our cooperative. He’d take up extra time with anyone who needed it and was willing to share his wisdom and knowledge with the younger generation.
Earlier this year, Bo spoke in front of his linemen brothers at the cooperative’s Lineman Appreciation
Day Luncheon, giving an inspiring, impromptu speech. He encouraged the linemen he worked with to train the new, younger men the right way, to teach them the safe way to work. He pointed to the fact that he had a son & grandson now working in the electric utility industry - that the Usserys are a utility family, and that is why he believed in preaching and practicing safety.
On October 24, 2018, we lost Bo and two other linemen, George Cesil and Ryan Barrett of Lee Electrical
Construction in North Carolina in a tragic accident. All three of them were doing what they loved – helping
people by restoring power in the aftermath of one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit our state, when they were struck by a vehicle driven by an impaired driver. The loss of these three men has left a void in the lives of everyone who knew and loved them, and we are forever changed because of their impact on our lives.
The hallways of West Florida Electric will never be the same without Bo’s smile, his voice and his boisterous
laughter. We will miss hearing that every day. You are missed, 1795.*
*Note: Each lineman and dispatcher are given call signs (numbers) to use on the radio system. 1795 was Bo’s.
George Cesil (below left); Ryan Barrett (below right).