J.R. “Chick” Schlenker said he knows Portales, its nooks and crannies, its strengths and weaknesses.
“I’ve been everywhere in this town except jail,” Schlenker boasted Saturday.
This knowledge and his community efforts helped the 94-year-old Schlenker win this year’s Pioneer of the Year award. He was awarded the title at the Memorial Building Friday afternoon, winning over six other candidates.
Family members said Schlenker has been a beacon to the community through various efforts, working as an assistant county agent in 1944, guiding 4-H youngsters and operating a local playschool.
He said he loves his community.
“It’s a great community to live in,” Schlenker said. “I have a lot of respect for Portales.”
A longtime farmer, Schlenker said one of the best times he remembers was in 1944, when he taught 4-H youngsters.
A member of the Church of Christ for 63 years, he also has a hankering for windmills and has patented the Schlenker Wind Turbine, which, he said, lacks the squeaks and clanks of the normal variety.
Jo Day Cope, Schlenker’s daughter, said her dad has an appealing personality and is a good choice for Pioneer of the Year.
“He’s thoughtful, reserved and has a wonderful sense of humor,” Cope said. “He’s very witty and he has a multitude of interests. His enthusiasm and excitement is strong even today.”