By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Jane Elizabeth Mauk Hilliard was chosen the 2005 Pioneer of the Year on Friday in the Memorial Building.
“I’m so very honored to have this beautiful plaque in recognition of the small part I have had in this community,” Hilliard said. “I do want to express my appreciation for Sheryl Borden. She is one of the greatest joys in my life. Thank you for honoring me in a beautiful way.”
It was Borden who nominated Hilliard for the 2005 Pioneer of the Year Award. Borden said she found out on Monday that Hilliard was the winner. Hilliard and Borden are inseparable and the two talk about everything and that’s what made it so hard for Borden to keep it a secret until Friday.
“She’s just the greatest role model for me and a mentor,” Borden said. “She’s always taken me under her wing. She’s been in the front row cheering me on.”
Hilliard’s presence in the community has been strong in helping with the community organizations she is involved in: a 55-year membership with the Portales Woman’s Club, the Daughters of the American Revolution, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Democratic Women, National Poetry Society, Friends of the Library and other groups.
“She’s my best friend,” Borden said. “She’s hosted and helped with an untold number of events. Her house is a museum in every aspect. She has many things that are extravagant.”
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. She earned a master’s degree in history from Eastern New Mexico University and she used her degree to teach at Portales Junior High School and ENMU. She taught history and political science at ENMU.
Hilliard has meant a lot to her three sons, Kent Hilliard, who owns Hilliard Chiropractic Center in Portales; John Mauk, a retired college administrator from Lehman University in New York, and James L. Hilliard, who owns Sundance Dental Lab in Albuquerque.
“My mom is a real special gal,” Kent Hilliard said. “She’s always been an inspiration to the three of us boys.”
Ellen Marcus, Clytie Calton and Jim Williamson were the other three nominees for the award and each received a plaque.
The judges selected Dewey Langston as the winner of the 2004 Pioneer of the Year Award for his years helping the community, Eastern New Mexico University and the United States Army during World War II.