INA, Ill. (Sept. 21, 2017) - Jim Hinman made a difference. It’s just what he did. The former Tri-County Electric Cooperative General Manager went out of his way to improve the life of those in his community, and while his involvement with Rend Lake College was brief in comparison to his peers on the 50 Influencer list, his impact and the lasting difference it continues to make is not only influential but down right inspirational.
Hinman was a member of the Rend Lake College Foundation Board in its formative years from 1988 to 1992. He was Foundation Chairman in 1989 and 1990, and during his tenure the Foundation raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the college, primarily through student scholarships.
He was only the second person to receive RLC Foundation Emeritus status and was presented with a painting of his race horse in December 1993.
After stepping away from the Foundation, Hinman was eventually brought back to RLC when he was appointed during a special meeting on Dec. 30, 1994, to fill the seat vacated when Olie Musgrave moved out of the district. Hinman was then elected unopposed to the unexpired four-year term in November 1995.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck. On May 30, 1996, at the age of 52, Hinman passed away following complications from two liver transplants.
The community, as a whole, had lost a champion.
In 1995, he was named Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce “Citizen of the Year.” At the time, Hinman had been General Manager at Tri-County Electric Cooperative for 10 years, after having become Office Manager in 1973 and Assistant Manager in 1981.
Prior to coming to Mt. Vernon, Hinman was a Cost Accountant for North American Rockwell in Columbus, Ohio. Hinman was generally regarded as a quiet but extremely effective leader in the business community. He was described by co-workers as an individual who cared dearly for his community and willing to volunteer many hours of his time for its betterment.
He also was active with the United Way of Jefferson County. He was Chairman of the Utilities Division in 1987-89, and also served as Co-Chairman of the Manufacturing Division.
Among his other accomplishments in the community, Hinman was a member of the Board of Directors of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce in 1986 and 1987, a member of the Rotary Club of Mt. Vernon starting in 1986 and its President in 1991-92 and a member of the Board of Directors of Boatmen’s Bank of Southern Illinois beginning in 1992.
Through the co-op, he promoted sending 11 area high school juniors each year on a week’s tour of the nation’s capital through the “Youth to Washington” program and supported Tri-County employees’ annual craft fair that has raised more than $18,000 for local organizations.
Professionally, Hinman was a member of the United Utility Supply Cooperative Board of Directors, serving 13 states; represented Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin on the Rural Electrification Administration’s Procedures Committee in Washington since 1992, was an Incorporating Director of the Illinois Cooperative Workers Compensation Group and had been a member of the Board of Directors of the Soyland Power Cooperative since 1985.
He was a graduate of Murray (Ky.) State University with a degree in Business Administration and Accounting. He also graduated from Officer Candidate School and served in the U.S. Army from 1968-71, including a stint with the 46th Infantry Division during the Vietnam conflict.
Hinman’s dedication to improving lives though Foundation scholarships touched the lives of countless students and inspired several of his Foundation Board members to take up the call, creating a branching effect that leaves a legacy all its own.
But, in recognition of all he did, an endowed “Jim Hinman Scholarship” was established in 1996 after his death. A Resolution of Commendation presented to the family indicated Hinman was directly responsible for individually raising more than $750,000 for the Foundation, including his time as President when the organization conducted its first major capital campaign and as one of three Jefferson County chairs in the “Generations of Excellence” Campaign.
The resolution and the endowment ensure that Hinman’s name will be continuously tied to student success for many more years to come. A fitting legacy for a man so dedicated to seeing others succeed.