Ken Holum has devoted most of his life to organizing and supporting the development of various types of cooperatives. Since the early 1940s Holum has been a leader in rural electrification nationally and in his home state of South Dakota. He founded the East River Rural Electric Cooperative in Madison, South Dakota, to supply power to local distribution cooperatives. He founded the James Valley Telephone Cooperative, to help bring telephone service to his fellow South Dakotan's. Nationally, Holum formed the nation's first fuel supply cooperative, Western Fuels Association, to which he brought his knowledge of and dedication to cooperative principles. As the Assistant Secretary for Water and Power Development in the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1961-1969, Holum consistently stressed the importance of cooperatives to consumers and the nation. For a half century Holum was one of the nation's most vigorous advocates of the cooperative idea of doing business, both as a private citizen and public servant. His tireless efforts and innovative leadership certainly enhanced the cooperative movement nationwide.