By Helena Rodriguez: PNT Staff Writer
Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of four stories about the Pioneer of the Year nominees who will be recognized during this year’s Heritage Days.
Jane Elizabeth Mauk Hilliard comes from a long line of community volunteers and leaders and not only devotes financial support to things she believes in, but she is a hands-on person as well.
This is what Sheryl Borden admires most about the 85-year-old woman whom she has nominated for the Pioneer of the Year Award. One of four people will be bestowed with this honor during a 5 p.m. Friday reception at the Memorial Building.
“Jane exemplifies the strength, the pride and the love of the people (in Roosevelt County),” Borden said. “This is characteristic of pioneer women.”
The Hilliard legacy in Roosevelt County dates back many years before Jane’s birth. Hilliard has lived in Portales her entire life, and in fact, she has lived in the same home on South Ave. B since she was a small child. Hilliard and her late husband, John, who died in 1991, purchased the home that her parents raised her in before her mother died.
Hilliard, a retired English and history teacher who has been active in many area civic and historical organizations, said she is devoted to the study of history, particularly in Roosevelt County. She also said that she is fascinated by the history of New Mexico as a whole and has great hopes for the future of Roosevelt County.
“We have such a promising time ahead of us and I look forward to the great developments that will come,” she said.
Hilliard graduated from Portales High School in 1938 and earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and history from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., in 1949. In 1970, she earned a master’s degree in history from Eastern New Mexico University alongside her sons, John and Kent. She then taught at Portales Junior High School for several years followed by several years teaching history and political science at ENMU.
Hilliard is a life-long member of First United Methodist Church where a stained glass window from the original Methodist church in Portales hangs in memory of her aunt, Florence Moss Carr. Her father, John B. Mauk, was a businessman who helped G.W. Carr establish Carr Lumber Co. in the early 1920s.
Hilliard was also active in an array of community organizations, from the Portales Woman’s Club, were she had an impressive 55-year membership, to the Daughters of the American Revolution, United Daughters of the Confederacy, PEO Sisterhood, Democratic Women, National Poetry Society, Friends of the Library and several other groups.
Hilliard’s three sons are: Dr. Kent Hilliard, who owns Hilliard Chiropractic Center in Portales; Dr. John Mauk, a retired college administrator from Lehman University in New York, and James L. Hilliard, who owns Sundance Dental Lab in Albuquerque.
In 1991, Hilliard established the J.K. & Jane Hilliard History Scholarship through the Friends of Eastern Foundation at ENMU.