Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Noelle Bartl
PORTALES — Eastern New Mexico University will present two couples and one individual with awards from the Friends of Eastern Foundation during Homecoming activities at the 29th Annual Friends of Eastern Foundation Breakfast on Saturday, Oct. 9, in the Campus Union Ballroom.
Those receiving awards are Larry and Joyce Combs, Gene Shirley, and Lee and Sandi Black.
Their biographical sketches and awards follow:
Business of the Year
Larry and Joyce Combs, along with Larry's mother, Ida Lou Combs, established Comb's Properties in 1985 in Portales. Their business services include purchasing and remodeling homes for resale as well as building and managing rentals in Clovis and Portales. Larry and Joyce's son, Christopher, is about to graduate from ENMU in December and is also the assistant manager for both their Clovis and Portales offices. As members of the Faith Christian Family Church in Clovis, they have a firm belief in giving back to their community. Comb's Properties is one of only two businesses supporting the Starter Scholarship Program via Foundation Flagship giving club at the $10,000 Stellar Level annually. "We are a small business in a community that values the economic impact of ENMU," stated Larry. "The University and its students and staff are the 'core of Portales' and it makes our community unique and attractive." Larry and Joyce are also members of the Chamber of Commerce and ENMU Bench Club as well as generous supporters of numerous charitable events and fundraisers in the community.
Philanthropist of the Year
Gene and Anne Shirley met each other for the first time in the third grade at a roller skating event, and then were reunited as freshmen at ENMU in 1951. Married as students, the two graduated in 1954: Gene as a business major who later (1955) earned his MBA with a specialty in marketing; Anne's degree was in business education. Gene was a member of the ENMU tennis team from 1950-1954 and Anne was involved in the Pep Club and president of her sorority. "We have many fond memories as ENMU students, especially the two years we lived in Vetville," remembers Gene. "Even early in my career at GE, we believed in helping ENMU because it was our way of giving back." Anne passed away October 24, 2001. Gene continues to support the University by giving to the Bench Club, the scholarship fund and the 2023 Endowment. In 1998, the two established the Gene and Anne Shirley Charitable Remainder Unitrust and have included the Friends of Eastern Foundation in their will as the primary beneficiary of their estate. In August of 2004, Gene established two charitable gift annuities that will also benefit ENMU as well as provide income for him for life.
Volunteer of the Year
Lee and Sandi Black"I had a couple of part-time jobs as a student," remembers Lee Black (BS72), "and we want to make it easier for current ENMU students by giving back with our time, talent and treasure." Sandi (BS71) is currently the superintendent of Hope Christian School in Albuquerque and is on the ENMU Alumni Association Board of Directors. Lee is the president of the New Mexico Baptist Foundation, helping individuals identify their philanthropic interests. In this role as a philanthropic "facilitator" he has worked with families that have remembered ENMU in their estate planning and most recently facilitated a $65,000 gift annuity benefiting ENMU from an Eastern alumna. Together they are on the Campaign Eastern Presidential Committee volunteering to raising $25,000 in pledges/donations in two years. Besides being active members in Hoffman Town Church, Lee is also president of the New Mexico Planned Giving Council and sits on the Committee on Order of Business for the Southern Baptist Foundation that plans their annual meetings. "Dr. Gamble and staff have impressed upon us their desire to provide a quality education for everyone," explained Lee, "and we wanted to be apart of this positive trend and do our part to help."