In tribute: Volunteer remembered for commitment to service

Robert Lydick had a personality nobody would forget, son Chad Lydick said. But something else wasn’t forgotten — his commitment to service.

“That was his philosophy, and it’s become mine too,” Chad Lydick said of his father, who died Feb. 7. “We felt that everyone should give something back.”

Lydick was known for volunteerism at Boy Scout functions, and for decades of work on the Clovis Community College board of trustees.

Born Oct. 17, 1923, in Erie, Kan., Lydick left his job at a tool and dye shop when he was 19 to enlist in the U.S. Navy. He served as a fire controlman second class aboard the U.S.S. St. Paul during World War II.

Though he spent plenty of time in New Mexico — he used GI Bill benefits to study engineering at New Mexico State — Lydick didn’t come to Clovis until his late 30s. He had been a land surveyor and engineer for a Portales business, and struck out on his own three years by moving to Clovis in 1961.

“We were business partners for 38 years,” Chad Lydick said. “We had a friendship together.”

Though his business was well-known in Clovis and the surrounding area, his volunteer work put him on the New Mexico map. He’d been involved with CCC for years when it was a branch of Eastern New Mexico University, and was a founding member of the two-year college’s board of trustees in 1990, and served as its chairman until 2005.

He was well-known in Clovis and beyond for his work at CCC and other colleges across the state.

“Although I didn’t meet him until 2006 (during his job interview), I knew him by reputation during my time at San Juan College up in Farmington,” CCC President John Neibling said. “He was well-known throughout the state for his many, many years of services to the college.”

Neibling said Lydick was an invaluable resource during his first few years, and provided insight when the college was starting to build the Allied Health Center.

“Obviously, there were building and grounds issues where he had very expert knowledge of things,” Neibling said. “He was like a free consultant.”

He retired from the board in 2007, and was named a member emeritus two years later. But colleagues said during his retirement that his committee service to education totaled 37 years.

“He believed in the mission of (community colleges) — to help people improve themselves, work to develop skills so you could support yourself,” said Chad Lydick.

Once Lydick’s time on the board ended, Neibling said, a friendship formed where a professional relationship once existed.

“Bob was very tough-minded,” Neibling said, “but seasoned with a great, wry sense of humor.”

Other honors include a term as president of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce in 1972, a term as president of Clovis Noonday Kiwanis Club in 1969, and being sworn into the state board of education finance in 1983.

“Mr. Lydick distinguished himself as a trustee by always speaking his mind and keeping the college’s best interests in mind,” said CCC Vice President Becky Rowley. “Bob and (wife) Arthena were also very generous. They donated the beautiful prairie woman statue in the library as well as scholarship money.”

When he wasn’t helping out the college, he was helping out local scouts — including cooking for 40 consecutive years at the annual Mulligan Stew.

Chad Lydick said while he reached a similar result — he is a regent at Eastern New Mexico University — he never felt pressure to follow in his father’s footsteps or replicate his interests.

“He had to make more concessions than I did,” Chad Lydick said. “No son wants to be No. 2 all the time.”