EUNICE — Stephanie Murphy so enjoys being of service to the community and her church the Eunice Chamber of Commerce made her Citizen of Year for 2019.
Seated at her table with family and friends near the conclusion of last week’s annual chamber banquet, Murphy jumped to hear her name announced for the honor.
“It really, really surprised me. I thought I was going to a parent-track meeting with my boys and my husband was called out,” she later told the Hobbs News-Sun. “All three of them knew what was happening, but I was very, very surprised. It really overwhelmed me.”
Murphy’s husband Shawn and her sons Stephen, 17, and Nathan, 14, proved instrumental in pulling off the annual chamber of commerce surprise.
Chamber director Linda Dobbs said the choice of Murphy for the honor was to recognize all of the work she does for the community.
“Such as at the library, if the hedges are too tall, she’s out there trimming them,” Dobbs said of Murphy. “Or she’s mowing the yard. She’ll go sit with people. She’ll take items to the library. If kids are in need, she’ll buy stuff out of her own pocket. She’s always doing things with the church youth group.”
Murphy spoke of herself with humility.
“I’m just myself,” she said. “We’re active with our congregation. I just enjoy people. I enjoy listening to people. I enjoy assisting people as I can. That’s basically all I do. I’m happier with people.”
Earlier in the awards ceremony, Shirley Curtis accepted the designation of Senior Citizen of the Year from Senior Center director and interim city manager Shannon Cummins.
A Eunice resident since 1949, Curtis served in the food industry all her life, plans many activities for the Eunice Senior Center and came to the chamber awards banquet on the belief she was being taken dancing, Cummins said.
“She’s definitely the hostess with the mostest,” Cummins said. “She’s a friend to everyone she comes in contact with and kind to everyone she meets.”
The Eunice High School 2018-19 Student of the Year award went to Rachelle Nogelmeier. Principal Tracy Davis presented the award, saying, “There are many leaders in our class, yet (Rachelle) is among the best of the best. She is dedicated and a positive influence on others. She is open to making new friends, but she is quiet and unassuming.”
Nogelmeier serves as president of both the National Honor Society and the student council.
Caton Middle School principal Cristy Boyd presented that school’s 2018-19 Student of the Year award to Jonathan Caballero, returning for a second round having also won his elementary school’s award two years ago.
“Not only is he a leader in his class, but he is quiet,” she said. “He is a solid leader, dedicated to his work, his peers and everything he does. He excels. He is a pure delight.”
The 2018-19 Student of the Year for Mettie Jordan Elementary School, presented by principal Robin Stevens, went to Jaslyn Clouse.
“She is an incredible role model and diligent student,” Stevens said of Jaslyn. “She is responsible, motivated and passionate. She does an outstanding job completing her class work, is respectful to adults and peers and is polite and positive.”
Dobbs said one other person not available at the banquet also received recognition for service to the community. Gary Criswell, who performs various duties around town, received his plaque and certificate of appreciation the day after the banquet.
“He was very happy,” Dobbs told the News-Sun. “He said he had never before been shown such appreciation.”
Dobbs pointed out the support of URENCO USA brought a Will Rogers-type entertainer to the event after she announced the theme of the banquet.
“When they asked what I was going to do for the banquet, I said I’m just a country girl and I was going to do something Western,” Dobbs said. “URENCO took it from there and got me the speaker. All the decorations I made myself.”
Will Roberts, with rope and whip tricks to humor, entertained the dinner crowd while encouraging them to simplify their lives.
An established actor and comedian, Roberts has worked as a syndicated radio humorist, performed on the Las Vegas strip with the famed Cirque Du Soleil in the “Viva Elvis” show in Las Vegas for four years.
Curtis C. Wynne may be contacted at reporter3@hobbsnews. com.