By Laurie Stone: PNT Correspondent
R.L. Borden was a quiet man with a pioneering spirit. He possessed a strong business sense that was instrumental in several aspects of community development for Portales and Roosevelt County.
According to family members, Borden was not a loud, “look at me,” type of person that would boast about his efforts, contributions or success. Rather, he was confident that time would tell whether he had lived life in a right manner or not.
R L. Borden died April 23, 2005, of congestive heart failure at 91 years old.
Bobby Borden, R. L. Borden’s son, said he and his dad had a good working relationship.
“He had a mind for business and a strong will to accomplish whatever he determined to do one way or another,” Bobby Borden said. “He started out with very little but because he attended to his business, over time it paid off for him.
“He was one to set his mind to something and move forward on it and not be decisive.”
R.L. Borden was born on Feb. 12, 1914, in Wheeler County, Texas, to Nellie and Bill Borden. He and his family came to the Floyd community by covered wagon when he was three years old. He grew up on the family farm and attended school at Floyd.
He graduated from Floyd High School in 1933. He began working at the Montgomery Ward Store in Clovis after graduation.
He married his bride of 70 years, Ola Sweat, on Nov. 10, 1935, in Portales. The romance between the two began during a state basketball tournament R. L. Borden played basketball and Ola was a cheerleader. They had four children together.
They opened a mercantile store in Floyd and in 1945, they sold the store and moved to Portales. R. L. Borden was the owner of grocery stores in Roswell, Clovis and Floyd but sold them in 1956.
R. L. and his brother, Clifford, became partners in a feed and cattle operation in Portales. Later they both started the Borden Peanut Company, which they ran together for many years before splitting their interests with Clifford buying out the cattle business.
In 1978, R. L. Borden retired. He contributed to his community by advancing the peanut industry in Portales and provided employment opportunities. Among his deeds was donating the land for Valencia Elementary School. He was a member of the Portales Lions Club, the Portales Masonic Lodge and the First United Methodist Church.
Wanda Calton, R. L. Borden’s daughter, described her dad as a pleasant person. She said he enjoyed many things, but one of his favorites was to drive and go sight seeing.
“He greatly enjoyed dressing nicely,” Calton said. “One cute thing about him was that he always wore gloves and a hat when he went for a drive. He would tip his hat with his gloves when he would say hello to people,” she said. “It made for an easy gift when Christmas came around.”
For Marilyn Rigsby, R. L. Borden’s daughter, she said her dad taught their family a strong sense of who they were and to strive for what they wanted to be.
“He knew that all things were possible through hard work,” Rigsby said.