According to Webster’s Dictionary, a pioneer is ‘one of the first to settle in a territory’, and for several years, the city of Portales has honored its pioneers during Heritage Days.
Friday night, four individuals and one couple were honored as pioneers of Portales, but 86-year-old Eunice Schumpert was given the honor of the 2008 Heritage Days Pioneer of the Year.
“It certainly is an honor to be Pioneer of the Year. I’m just so excited,” Schumpert said. “I’m sure there are others that should have won, I’m just delighted.”
Schumpert (Boteler) was born in Portales in August of 1921. She attended school in Floyd for six years before spending time in Phillips, Texas and Artesia.
She graduated from Artesia High School 1939 when Floyd Golden, former president of Eastern New Mexico University, offered her a scholarship for her piano playing and singing ability.
Eunice met her future husband, Billy Schumpert, at ENMU.
“I love Portales. I love the college, that’s where I met my sweet husband,” Schumpert said. “I just feel like (Portales) just wraps its arms around me and I love every minute that I’m here in Portales.”
In her several decades in Portales. Schumpert taught singing and piano playing to thousands of Roosevelt County children.
“There are few families who haven’t had at least one child sit on the piano bench with Eunice Schumpert through the years,” Sheryl Borden said in nominating Schumpert for the award.
She is a member of the Professional Music Teachers of New Mexico and has served as organist at First Baptist Church in Portales for over 40 years, as well as working with the Portales High School Maypole musicians for several years.
“It’s just a great award to acknowledge what the older generation has contributed to our county and our community and to our welfare,” Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sharon King said. “Thank goodness for us that they paved the way for us.”
Others nominated for the award were 92-year-old Paul B. Murphey, 75-year-old Gene Collins, 86-year-old Tommie (Haislip) Bennett and Billy and Peggy Prater.
Schumpert will be honored at this morning’s Heritage Days parade in Portales.