By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer
Don Essary had to ask his wife, Linda, for a date three times before she finally said yes when they were both students at Eastern New Mexico University.
Thirty nine years, two children and six grandchildren later, the happy couple, who proudly hang their hats in Floyd, have not only raised a family, but have been known to always lend an extra hand to friends and neighbors in their community. And for that, they were named the Floyd Citizens of the Year during the final night of the 58th annual Floyd Lions Club Country Jamboree on Saturday.
“I feel very honored. Living in Floyd is the best place to live in the world. All of the people are wonderful,” Linda said shortly after receiving the honor before a packed gym of about 600 people.
Linda, a former home economics teacher in Melrose, Floyd and Elida, has served on the Floyd school board and at the regional school board level and has been a 4-H club leader for many years. She has also been a member of the Busy Fingers Club, Floyd Homemakers Club and Floyd Extension Club and both Linda and Don have been active with the Floyd Boosters club.
Don had a brief stint with the FBI in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s, but decided to leave “the concrete jungles” and return to “the dirt roads of home” in Floyd. Since then, he has been a farmer, an active member of the Floyd Lions Club, which sponsors the annual jamboree, The Floyd Back Porch Pickers, and is also a member of the Floyd Fire and EMS departments.
The couple married at the ages of 22 and 25. Paul Benoit, president of the Floyd Lion’s Club, related a story told by Don’s brother about Don and Linda. “When they were dating, Linda’s mom was making all of their quilts and she had to add another row because Don is so long,” Benoit laughed. Linda said her husband is about 6 foot, 6 inches tall.
In honoring the Essarys, Fred Patterson, director of the show, said, “The couple we are honoring tonight have spent most of their lives in the Floyd community. They have always helped out family, neighbors and friends, each and every time there was a need.”
Don was born in Texas in 1943, and moved with his family to Floyd that same year. His parents were devoted Floyd citizens and were active in school, the jamboree and the Lion’s Club. He graduated from Floyd High School in 1961.
Linda was born in Portales in 1946. Her family lived in Milnesand and she attended Dora schools. Following graduation, she attended ENMU and earned a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics in 1968.
Linda taught until their first child was born, at which time she quit teaching and stayed home to raise a family. Both of their children, Jeff and Amanda, attended Floyd schools, as well as many of their grandchildren.