For 45 years, Morgan County Farmers Federation (MCFF) members counted on a constant — secretary Linda Holmes.
“My best memories are of the people we helped and the people I worked with,” said Holmes, 77, who retired as secretary in August.
But Holmes didn’t just serve members by paying bills, handling correspondence, taking minutes, keeping financial reports and organizing over 500 meetings in nearly half a century.
In 1972, she began working at Alfa Insurance, then Alabama Farm Bureau Insurance, as a customer service representative (CSR) in Hartselle. After supervising a team of CSRs for 14 years, she became an agent in Decatur. Holmes retired from Alfa in 2002.
“I was always proud to work for Alfa,” she said. “It was like a family.”
Outside work, Holmes was rooted in agriculture. She and husband Gerry married in 1960 and raised four children on the farm where she grew up. Hillview Beefmasters in Gandy’s Cove was one of Alabama’s first Beefmaster herds, said Gerry, an MCFF board member.
Holmes had a front-row seat to change within MCFF. When she took the reins as secretary in 1973, annual meeting invitations were hand-labeled — all 8,000 of them. They eventually transitioned to automation with the printing company addressing postcards. She also worked with four Alabama Farmers Federation area organization directors and five county presidents, including current leader Mark Byrd.
Byrd said Holmes has been the face of Alfa in his county for as long as he can remember.
“I’ve known Linda all my life,” Byrd said. “Her son, Rodney, and I were best friends in high school, and I knew she was connected to Alfa before I was active in the organization. She’s one of the best people I’ve ever known. It says something about her that she continued to work for the Farmers Federation after her retirement from the insurance company.”
Evolving technology tweaked her daily duties at Alfa, too.
“When I was hired, they asked if I liked math,” Holmes said. “I said ‘yes,’ which was good because we figured rates by hand.”
Eventually, the office added a calculator to its resources, which all three staffers shared.
“Then we each got a calculator and thought we were uptown!” Holmes recalled.
Helping others was a priority, whether registering members for conferences or filing customer claims — like when a joyride ended with a crash into a police cruiser.
Today, Holmes impacts others by volunteering at a medical clinic and food pantry. She plants seeds of change for children overseas through a women’s mission group, sewing dresses and packing shoe boxes filled with supplies.
She and Gerry also travel, spend time with their four grandchildren and attend Mount Zion Baptist Church.
When bumping into former customers at the grocery store, Holmes said their hugs and stories remind her of good times at Alfa. Customers trusted his wife, Gerry said.
“For several years after she retired, people would call Linda at home and ask what they should do about their insurance,” he said. “She made a lot of good friends in the business.”