Business feature: Job not toiling for Tillie

At 89, Tillie Shaw is serving as the chief executive officer at the Clovis Board of Realtors. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

Tillie Shaw has been called a champion, a cheerleader and a workhorse by friends and associates.

She was the first women elected Curry County treasurer in 1964 and is still going strong today at 89 years old as chief executive officer at the Clovis Board of Realtors, where she has worked since 1975.

She retired in 1997, however, it didn’t last long.

“The Realtors twisted my arm in 2001 to come back to work,” Shaw said. “They thought three mornings a week would be all, but I find myself working more than that.”

Shaw isn’t complaining. She is doing something she loves.

“I’ve always enjoyed numbers,” she said. “I’ve always kept books.”

Clovis Realtor Fred Eichenberger said Shaw is known for being independent and organized.

“She (Shaw) runs the whole board,” Eichenberger said. “There’s not anybody that works any harder than she does.”

Eichenberger, who has worked in real estate since 1981, recalled meetings where large folding tables needed to be set up.

“We couldn’t get there early enough,” he said, “because she would already have it done.

And before computers were standard office equipment, Eichenberger said Shaw would print, bind and distribute books containing real estate listings to each Realtor.

“With Tillie everything is always in order and taken care of,” he said.

Born in Littlefield, Texas, and raised on a farm outside of Melrose, Shaw was given the nickname “Tillie the Toiler” by farmers because of the diligent job she did at the grain elevator in Melrose, she said.

Tillie became her legal name in 1964 when Shaw decided to run for Curry County treasurer.

“I had to have Tillie legalized because all the farmers knew me as Tillie,” Shaw said. “However, it was worth going to court to change my name as I was the first woman to be elected (Curry) County treasurer.”

Clovis resident Ribble Holloman met Shaw in the 1960s, he said. “She is as crazy as a teenager.”

Holloman, who was employed as a business manager with the Clovis schools, said he enjoyed working with Shaw while she was treasurer.

“She is intelligent,” Holloman said, “and she has the ability to work with people.”
When she isn’t working, Shaw enjoys making rum cakes and peanut brittle. But she enjoys her freedom most of all.

“When the day comes that I have to give up my car I’ll be the meanest woman in town,” she said.

Q: Where were you when John F. Kennedy was killed?
I was working in the Curry County Treasurer’s office.
Q: What was your favorite band in high school?
I don’t remember any bands from high school, but I’ve always loved country music.
Q: What did you wear to your prom?
I remember the dress I wore to graduation. It was a long, light blue dress with a ruffle and a low neck.
Q: What is your favorite meal?
Breakfast. I always have a date muffin and oatmeal.
Q: What advice would you give the younger generation?
Work hard and do a little more than your part. Always do your best.
Q: You didn’t marry until you were 50. Why?
I was too busy. Why would you marry and make one miserable? (It’s) better you stay single and make them all happy.