Not your average Joe

Name: Joe Whitehurst

Hometown: Friona

Lives in: Portales

Age: 70

Occupation: Retired truck driver for Walmart, private gun seller.

Family: Wife: Vickie Wilkerson, Children: Chelsea Wilkerson, Zee Bilal, Lacy Keith, Reggie Shaw and Jody Coleman.

Joe Whitehurst has been throughout the country, but considers west Texas and eastern New Mexico as his home. The retired truck driver now stays in the area, helping as part of the Clovis Lions Club. But, as friends will tell you, he’s the best one to tell his own story because it will give him a chance to talk.

What was it like growing up in the area?

CMI staff photo: Kevin Wilson Joe Whitehurst of Portales stands with a delivery of bikes to Clovis Community College Friday. Whitehurst has been president of the Clovis Lions Club for three years.

CMI staff photo: Kevin Wilson
Joe Whitehurst of Portales stands with a delivery of bikes to Clovis Community College Friday. Whitehurst has been president of the Clovis Lions Club for three years.

I was born in Friona, but we lived in Bovina for five years and then we came to Clovis in 1948. I’m a Texas boy — I don’t mind saying it and I like saying it — but I’ve been in this area most of the time. I lived in Albuquerque, lived in Lubbock, but this is farm and ranch country and this is where I like to be. It’s a great place.

Having lived in both, what are the advantages of big cities and small towns?

As everyone knows about me, I like food. I like the restaurants in the bigger cities. If you need a part for something, you’re able to just go and buy it. The advantage of the smaller community is the people. You get to know so many people, and you get to bond with them. That’s an important thing in my life.

How did you get involved with the Lions Club?

Vickie and I have been married about three-and-a-half years. She lost her spouse many years ago, I lost my spouse, and the good Lord put us together. She was a Lions Club member, and when we got together when I joined the Lions Club. Not too much later, they elected me president, and I’ve been president for three years.

How did you first meet your wife?

I’d known Vickie for many, many years. When her husband passed away and my wife passed away, things kind of worked out. The good Lord said, “You two need to be together.”

What was your first date like?

We were both cautious. I’m an outgoing person and she’s very reserved — very friendly, but reserved. I just talk all the time and I meet people.

How has being part of Lions Club helped you in your life?

I was always gone before when I was driving a truck. I could never give back to the community. The Lions Club is a nonprofit organization and a service club. Our motto is, “We serve.” We try to help people. What has helped me so much is this community; it’s fantastic. You get to know these people. The Lions Club is mostly about sight; we give glasses to old people and young people. We do as much community service as we possibly can. I am extremely proud to be in the best Lions Club in the state.

Where did you drive for Walmart, and what was your favorite place to see?

I drove out of Plainview for 17-and-a-half years. I ran to California for them. I’ve been to all 48 continental states. I think parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado are beautiful. But for an old country boy, the most awesome sight I ever saw was in Vermont one year. The leaves were changing. I understand why there are generations of folks that stay at those bed and breakfast places there, and always have the same room.

Since you’ve made them so often, what’s the best thing you can do on a long trip to make it better?

Be aware of your surroundings and be safe. Safety is No. 1, that’s it. So many times, people on long trips get bored. They need to stop at least every two hours, walk around a few minutes. You’d be surprised how much shorter that trip actually is.

What would be your dream vacation for a week?

I would probably have to say I’d like to go to Alaska. I’ve never been to Alaska. I’ve been to the edges of it, I guess. Maybe I’d go on an Alaskan cruise with my wife.

What is your favorite Lions event?

The gun shows we put on at the Clovis Civic Center. We put on two per year. We were putting on one, and then when I became president, since I know so many gun people, we decided to start doing two. Turnout is great. The one thing I want you to make sure everything understands, we keep it in this community. We give every third-grader in Clovis, Melrose, Texico, Grady and Fort Sumner (schools) a brand new dictionary — more than 900. But the gun shows are a big thing; we really like doing that.

You said that you loved food. So if you had a last meal, any restaurant and entree, what would it be?

To tell you the truth, I really enjoy Dakota’s in Clovis. It would have to be that big porterhouse steak. I love that thing.

I’m not sure if you’ve thought about it, but what would you like your tombstone to read?

I have. “He wasn’t lazy. He was honest and true.” I really think that’s what I would like; I know that’s what my mom and dad would like.

What’s your best quality, and your most irritating?

I think my best quality is being able to meet people from the working class to anywhere. I could meet the president, and it wouldn’t bother me at all.

Worst quality? People would say I talk too much.

— compiled by CMI staff writer Kevin Wilson

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