By Don McAlavy
Bobby Hagler has made a name for himself as a civil engineer. In the last 30 years he has been designing and building electric transmission lines and substations from North Dakota to California.
He was raised on the outskirts of Clovis.
He is the son of Bob and Chris Hagler of Clovis.
After graduating from Clovis High School in 1969 he received a scholarship to New Mexico State University. His physical science scholarship involved tracking navigational satellites from Navy and Marine bases in Cyprus, Brazil and South Africa.
“After my first nine months of college, I flew to Nicosia, Cyprus, and while there nearly got killed when I got caught in a Mediterranean hurricane a half-mile off the coast while snorkeling inside a coral reef. I was tossed, turned and hurled against the spikey coral. I looked like a pin cushion for a few days.
“After another two semesters at NMSU, I left for Brazil. During my stay in Sao Jose dos Campos, I fell off a 150-foot waterfall, broke my pelvis, contracted gangrene and was lost in a jungle river all New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in 1971.
“On a lighter side, a blind musician taught me to play guitar to ‘Girl from Ipanema’ while on Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro.
“After two more semesters at NMSU I was sent to Pretoria, South Africa, to work on a satellite station. This was all before I became a civil engineer. I finally decided when I graduated from NMSU in 1975 to change occupations.
“So I took the lowest paying job offered just to go to the Colorado mountains and get away from rattlesnakes and the wind. I was hired as a GS-7 civil engineer with the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation near Denver. I’m a GS-13 now and have been working for their Western Area Power Administration. The power lines and structures are getting bigger each year. I invented a … steel pole maintenance device and wrote a comprehensive design manual for anyone wanting to know how to design a steel pole transmission line and foundations.
“In the beginning I had very lofty goals in management and politics. I soon realized I would never be happy as a manager. I enjoy designing and building things. My reward is seeing my projects in the air and across the lakes — still standing — storm after storm.”
Bobby and his wife are living at Littleton, Colo. He gets back to Clovis most Thanksgivings and at Christmas.
His grandfather, the late Glen Barris, played a guitar and fiddle in his own band in 1928 in Clovis. He once told Bobby: “If you can play my fiddle, you can have it.”
That was about eight years ago and Glen died soon after. Bobby learned to play the fiddle and has the treasured fiddle now, but since then he has started a band of his own, the “Test of Time Band,” made up of friends and his wife Tomi.
“I don’t use the fiddle in my band,” Bobby Hagler said. “We’ve gone modern and I play lead on a wild electric guitar.
“I’m doing it for my own amusement, and for the benefit of my friends and as a tribute to my grandfather. I do continue to work my day job, which takes me away for days at a time.”
Hagler’s grandmother, Rena Barris, still lives in Clovis. She said she is proud of her only daughter (Bobby’s mother) and her two grandsons, one granddaughter, and two great-grandsons.
Don McAlavy is a history buff and lives in Clovis.