The MsRWA family lost an icon on Saturday, March 28, 2020, Mr. Harold, (Pete) Boone. Mr. Boone left a legacy behind for all to remember. He was a true friend, a great boss, and loved each and every one he met. He will be forever missed.
Pete began his career working in the water industry working at Copiah Water Association, while at CWA he became a board member for the MsRWA. Later he became the National Director for National Rural Water Association, representing Mississippi. Pete later resigned from the board and became the manager/program manager for MsRWA. As he grew the association, and more staff were added it became apparent that MsRWA needed an Executive Director/CEO. Pete transitioned right into this position, being the first Executive Director/CEO of MsRWA, and continued to grow the association and make MsRWA one of the best associations in the nation as well as a powerful trade association within the state legislature and with top policy makers in the halls of Congress. He held this position until his retirement in September of 2007.
In February of 1989, I put my resume’ into MsRWA for the South Circuit Rider position. This was the very first time I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Pete. Two weeks later, I interviewed with the board, and started my career with MsRWA in mid-March. For the next 18 years, I had the opportunity to work for Pete, I have many stories and memories that I could tell and will only tell a few, otherwise then this would turn into a book. I am also sure that each and every one of you who knew Pete, would have your story to tell as well.
As all of the employees who worked for Pete will tell you, he was the best boss that anyone could ever ask for. He did his job well; he was stern when he needed to be and compassionate to employees during difficult times. Pete loved his job, and his fellow ED’s throughout the nation, especially the ones who would skip NRWA In-Service and go play golf with him. Pete’s goal was to play golf in all 50 states and he completed that goal. He taught me so much in my 18 years working for him, not only about rural water, but about life in general. Pete was a true legend in rural water, and when he retired and I was hired to be his replacement, I knew it was a very tall order and I had some mighty big shoes to fill. When I took over, he told me that he would only be a phone call away, and he held to his word, he would never try to get involved but when I called, he was always ready to give me his opinion and advice, I valued that advice to the utmost.
Pete was a family man who loved his family dearly his kids and grandkids meant the world to him. I recall one summer when we were heading to the coast for summer training and I was in Lucedale doing some pigging, Pete came by to see me and had two of his grandsons riding with him. Both children were 11 years old at the time, when they got to Magee, Pete turned the driving over to his 11-year-old grandson, Ben, to drive all the way to Lucedale. Late that afternoon I arrived on the coast. As soon as I got to the motel room, Pete called and said he was going to play golf and was leaving the boys and wanted me to check on them every now and then, he said I gave them twenty dollars apiece they will be just fine. Well, about 8 p.m. that night David, Pete’s son, and his wife Sue arrived, and could not find Pete or the boys so they contacted me and wanted to know if I knew where they were, of course they were found on the beach. It did not go over to good when I told them that Pete had left them to go play golf, and then when I told them about Pete letting Ben drive like he did, it sure enough got bad then. When Pete got back and Sue got through chewing on him, he just laughed about it and went on about his business, getting another golf game lined up for the next day.
Another time, Pete, Harold Turner, and myself were in Yazoo City, spending the night at the Days Inn, at this motel you parked your car in front of your room and walked in. That night one of them had the idea of going and eating Mexican food, before we could even finish our meal, Harold became sick and we had to get him to his room as quickly as possible, soon after I became sick as well. Feeling awful and laying in my bed, Harold began banging on my door, I told him I was too sick to mess with him right now, but he insisted and said you have got to come see this. I got up and walked out and looked down the sidewalk and there was Pete running down the sidewalk with nothing but his underwear on, I yelled out to Pete and asked him where he was going. His response back to me was, “Son I am sick and there is no toilet paper in my room”, Pete ran right on up into that office wearing nothing but his underwear and got his toilet paper. Many more memories and stories that I could tell. He was just a joy to be around, you never knew what your day consisted of.
Rural Water would not be where it is today if it had not been for Pete, many people in Mississippi are benefitting from water and wastewater services from the work and actions of Pete. He was very instrumental and respected with the key policy makers in Washington DC. PETE, working with Senator Thad Cochran and the rest of the small but powerful Congressional delegation, was responsible for the creation of the Grassroots Source Water Protection program that now serves every state in the nation. Again, the things he was able to get accomplished are too many to list and the man never took credit.
Pete’s passion for golf was one of a kind, another Pete story, a few years ago, Ms. Lanie, Pete’s Wife, was in the hospital and the doctor had set up to run some test on that Tuesday morning, just so happened that was the Tuesday morning of our Annual Conference golf tournament. Not sure that Ms. Lanie ever knew about this till now, but Pete called the doctor and had him to reschedule the test for Wednesday morning so he could play in the tournament. Ms. Lanie, I will stop here and not tell the story of Pete buying his motorcycle years ago.
Pete loved to do service work for his church and after his retirement if there was some type of disaster, you could look for Pete to be somewhere around helping his fellowman in need. When Hurricane Michael struck Florida, Pete and his church were some of the first to respond to help with the cleanup efforts. Pete’s job on this mission was to be the safety coordinator. While there, fellow CEO Dennis Sternberg with Arkansas Rural Water, met up with Pete and the both of them spent the day riding and reminiscing of their years of working together. I know Dennis will always cherish this time spent with Pete. David Boone later thanked Dennis for spending this time with his dad and also said that they were able to get twice the work done by him keeping Pete away. Pete and David were always joking at one another in these ways.
Pete was a family man and had the utmost love for his wife, children, and grandchildren. These meant the world to Pete and he was quick to tell you about his family, especially those grandkids. He also instilled in each and every one of his family members their devout love and service to our Lord and Savior. I know without a doubt when Pete reached the Pearly Gates that the Lord looked at him and said, “Well done my good and faithful Servant, Well Done”.
On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, Pete Boone was laid to rest, from recommendations from the state due to the COVID-19 Epidemic, the family chose to have private graveside services only. Had it not been for this, I know the funeral and church would have been overflowed by family and friends. Pete was cherished and loved by each and every one he met.
As I close, I want to thank the family for the privilege and honor of serving as one of the pall bearers who laid Pete into his final resting place. It is a memory that I will always cherish throughout my life. I also want to encourage you to continue to keep this family in your thoughts and prayers throughout the coming days.
Pete Boone; Job well done my friend; job well done!
For those wishing too, the family request in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Mississippi Rural Water Association Scholarship fund in memory of Pete Boone. Donations may be mailed to MsRWA, 5400 N Midway Rd., Raymond, Ms 39154.
May God keep you safe and bless each and every one,
Kirby Mayfield, CEO