By Tony Parra
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of profiles on nominees for the Pioneer of the Year award.
Harold Knox graduated from Portales High School in 1933 and experienced just about all Portales has to offer since his birth in 1915. He experienced a surprise when he found out he was one of the candidates for the Pioneer of the Year Award.
The award will be presented on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Memorial Building as part of the Heritage Days festivities.
Knox said he’s one of only three remaining 1933 PHS graduates that he knows of. Knox still has his high school diploma, 71 years later, in good condition. He was one of 55 graduates from the class. He said many of his classmates were lost in the Bataan Death March.
“There is a lot of publicity for the abuse in Iraq, but there is nothing said about the ones we lost in the Bataan Death March,” Knox said. “You never hear a word about it. It was a terrible thing.”
His parents, Hugh and Kate Knox, moved from Oklahoma to Portales in a covered wagon.
Roosevelt County Chamber Events Coordinator Anna Foster said three judges reviewed stories of each of the pioneer of the year candidates and selected the winner based on what the person has done to contribute to the community.
Knox said he was born in the middle of the great depression and can remember getting one dollar as a graduation present.
“During those times, it felt like a lot,” Knox said. “There was a lot of business in milking and churning butter. I was getting $50 a month while I was working at Price’s Creameries Inc.”
Knox said he worked there for 25 years and worked another 25 years for the Safeway Creamery, a milking plant in Clovis.
Knox said he was on the first football team at Eastern New Mexico University and still has a 1936 ENMU yearbook. He said the only people who had cars during that time were the ENMU president and an English teacher named Gracie Williams.
“I enjoy talking to him,” Sharon Davis said. “He’s a great person to talk to about the history of Portales.”
Knox said he spends his days drinking coffee at McDonald’s and eating at the senior meal site at the Community Services Center. He continues to enjoy the company of other people. Knox still flashes the same smile he flashed in the yearbook photo when he was a young man attending ENMU.
“I love people,” Knox said. “I love being around people. I’ve never seen anyone I didn’t like. I’ve got a lot of friends. I love to help people.”