By Lynn Moncus
A few months ago, Robert Farmer passed away and left a sizable bequest to the Tucumcari Historical Research Institute to be used as the board chooses to help preserve the history of our area at the Tucumcari Historical Museum. He said he wanted to leave the money in memory of his mother, Mrs. Mildred Farmer, because she had loved the museum and because she was proud of her years as a restaurateur in Tucumcari.
The Farmers moved to Tucumcari from Kansas in 1940 and began to play an important part in our town from the beginning. All five of the Farmer siblings graduated from THS and have contributed much to the making of our history. Marian Farmer Knapp, the oldest child of the family is responsible for the annual Rattler Reunion as she and a few friends decided we needed such a gathering. She also came up with the idea of writing the history of Quay County and was co-editor of The Quay County Book in 1985. The first set of twins, Darrell and Donald, were known for their drumming prowess in the THS band and in various dance bands in the county. Darrell became a veterinarian and has lived in Quay County during most of his professional life. Donald became a banker and has continued to call Tucumcari home. The second set of twins, Robert and Richard, were also well-known drummers and went into their professional lives, Richard as a member of the Soil Conservation Service, and Robert as an independent businessman. Both of those twins bequeathed money to the museum and wanted to be sure their mother would be remembered.
Mrs. Farmer very quietly went about the business of raising her family and of operating various eating establishments in Tucumcari, beginning with a small cafe on Highway 66 and ending her career with the Home Cafe in the Vorenberg Hotel. She truly provided home cooked meals for her guests, and her cafe often served as the gathering place for friends, families, and business people. Many of us can remember eating some of her delicious food and have a fond memory of topping off our meal with hot apple pie ala mode. She helped her children, taught them the importance of the work ethic, and set an excellent example for them to follow. She befriended many people who needed something to eat but who couldn’t afford it and saw that all her guests were well served and were pleased with their meals.
Robert wanted to leave enough money so something permanent could be done at the museum to recognize Mrs. Farmer. As time passes, that money will be put to good use, and his generosity will add to the memory of his mother. We appreciate what he wanted done and we appreciate what Mrs. Farmer did to make our community a better place in which to live.
Such gifts to the museum have helped to preserve our history through the years. Some of the larger ones have been used to add more buildings to the grounds, and others have been used to see that our collection is displayed and enjoyed by all visitors. The board and the historical institute certainly appreciate such contributions and work eagerly to see that our history remains alive so others may know about our past. We are rather unique in that we have focused on many personal lives who settled our county, and we have also become known as the repository of historical collections that played such a part in our history. By remaining independent, we have been able to focus on the important aspects of our area without having to answer to those who would establish guidelines to hinder to preservation of the past. We’ll certainly remember Mrs. Farmer and will see that some of her contributions to our county will not go unnoticed.