2017 Honorees

Business of the Year, Big Valley Automotive, Inc.

Big Valley Automotive logoENMU Athletics Corporate Sponsor Big Valley Automotive, Inc. has generously supported the University and ENMU athletics for the past decade. They are one of only two Anchor Board sponsors for Greyhound Club, donating thousands of dollars in monetary and trade gifts per year. In trade, the company loans multiple cars every year for ENMU coaches to use when recruiting and traveling to out-of-town games. Their hope is that by helping them with some of their financial obligations, coaches can use more of the money in their budgets to achieve their goals for recruiting, scholarships, and for things other than worrying about transportation.

“ENMU Athletics appreciates the substantial support that Big Valley provides us,” said ENMU Athletic Director Dr. Greg Waggoner. “The fact that they stepped up as one of only two Anchor Board sponsors with our new stadium video board, as well as the discounted car loan program that they provide some of our coaches is very valuable to us.”

In addition to their support of ENMU, Big Valley actively fundraises in support of the efforts to help the local economy take care of itself. In the last 18 months alone, Big Valley raised $24,000 for local schools and Roosevelt County Crime Stoppers. This past August they brought the community together for their Drive4UrSchool event, where the company donated $20 per test drive toward Portales High School Athletics.

As co-owners of Big Valley — one of the 10 largest private employers in Roosevelt County — ENMU alumnus Randy Van Leuven (BBA 93) and Wade Rutter (attended) value the importance of keeping money local. Although their company sells and services vehicles all over eastern New Mexico, they are especially grateful for Portales and ENMU.

“Big Valley has been a staple here since the 70s, first with Ford and Chrysler,” said Randy Van Leuven, who purchased the company with Rutter in 2009. “We participate every chance we get with ENMU, and we look forward to a continued mutual relationship and prosperous future for eastern New Mexico.”

Philanthropist of the Year, Ed and Trudy Healy

Ed and Trudy Healy Healy FoundationA strong supporter of education and the arts, Healy Foundation — spearheaded by Ed and Trudy Healy of Taos, New Mexico — has contributed generously to ENMU’s KENW-TV since 2008. They are a main financial backer for “Report from Santa Fe,” an interview series that airs on PBS and is hosted by veteran journalist Lorene Mills. Trudy and Lorene graduated together in 2006 from Leadership New Mexico. As a private foundation, the Healys are able to seek out the causes they wish to support, and they saw potential in the series, which began broadcasting in 1974. Because of their generosity, the series has since been able to upgrade production equipment, utilize a more attractive set, and shoot remotely with important guests who are unable to come to the Santa Fe studio at the Capitol.

“The Healy Foundation is proud to provide a clear voice for New Mexico’s history and its living legacies through film and broadcasting,” said Trudy Healy when asked why they are committed to supporting KENW. “It is a unique opportunity for us to support a positive partnership with ENMU.”

They are also a significant financial backer for the KENW-produced documentary “Ol’ Max Evans – The First Thousand Years,” which is set to premiere at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival in October. The documentary shares the extraordinary life of 93-year-old accomplished writer, painter, miner, soldier, family man and calf-roping cowboy Max Evans. In supporting KENW, Healy Foundation is positively affecting the learning experience of ENMU students who work in the studio and get valuable, hands-on training. In addition to their donations to ENMU, the foundation has funded programs to aid the farming industry at NMSU and to UNM for land and water issues.

For the 25 years they have been established, Healy Foundation (previously named the Martha Ann Healy Family Foundation) mainly supports the state’s land and water issues. Trudy previously served as Representative for Irrigation or Conservancy District Surface Water and treasurer for the New Mexico Water Trust Board. The foundation funds the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, a division of New Mexico Tech, for an aquifer mapping and monitoring project.

Volunteers of the Year, Mr. Billy K. Gaedke Jr.

Billy Gaedke JrBilly K. Gaedke Jr. (MED 89, BS 88) has been committed to ENMU and its students for nearly three decades, an impressive amount of time, considering he first came to Eastern at 55 years old, having already retired from a 28-year Air Force career. Mr. Gaedke can’t remember a time when he wasn’t volunteering for something, and even with his always-packed work schedule, he truly feels fulfilled when he is giving his time to others.

For the past 17 years, Mr. Gaedke has loyally agreed to review the hundreds of College of Education and Technology (CET) scholarship applications that come through the ENMU Foundation office — an important and tedious task. Even though he officially retired from ENMU in 2006 after working 16 years as an instructor of education foundations, he remains actively involved and does not take his position as the chair of the CET Scholarship Committee lightly.

“Mr. Gaedke’s role reviewing bins upon bins of applications is an in-depth and challenging responsibility that is hard to find a volunteer for,” ENMU Foundation Executive Director Noelle Bartl acclaimed. “He really cares about the students, and in recent years has expanded his role even further to also review the ENMU Foundation general scholarships.”

Upon earning a bachelor’s degree in social studies and a master’s in reading education, ENMU hired Mr. Gaedke part time in 1990. Since then he has mentored more than 900 prospective teachers and has served on multiple committees including the Alumni Association Board of Directors and three terms on the Council of Professors Emeriti (COPE) Board of Directors.

Mr. Gaedke’s devotion to Eastern and his community has not gone unnoticed. In 2002, ENMU honored him with the Chester Haughawaut Exemplary Human Relations Award, and in 2006 he was named the University’s Collegiate FFA Teacher of the Year. He received Distinguished Emeritus Faculty status in 2014, was recognized as Clovis Schools’ Volunteer of the Year in 1999, and was named their Top Cat in 2004. The New Mexico Activities Association also named him Sportsman of the Year in 2001. Mr. Gaedke may be most well-known, however, as the “voice” of the Clovis Wildcats, since he has been volunteering his time as the announcer at their games for the past 38 years.