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Hobbs Has Lost a Friend

Hobbs Has Lost a Friend photo 4/23/2017 2:41:32 p.m. - Hobbs, NM.  

[Story by Todd Bailey, Hobbs News-Sun]

Bill Morrill was a Hobbs police officer who served the community with honor. A tall man who handled situations with an objective view and a firm hand. He retired as police chief only to find his job of service was only going to continue.

He was also a big teddy bear, according to his wife of 37 years, Joni. Bill would go out of his way to help friends or strangers. His gruff appearance was just that if you didn’t know him, and if you did then you knew it was more of an act than a lifestyle.

That’s because Bill was a big prankster, who kept his friends and family on their toes and always left a room with people smiling. Co-workers and peers were always happy to cross paths with Bill, who is known to always remember the name of everyone he came in contact with. On Saturday morning, at the young age of 64, Bill lost his battle with cancer at a Lubbock hospital, closing the chapter to the life of a man who was a friend to Hobbs and Lea County. Funeral services are pending with Chapel of Hope Funeral Home in Hobbs. “Bill was ornery and honorable,” Joni said Saturday afternoon with a laugh. “He was a fantastic father and in 37 years of marriage we never had a falling out regarding anything. My family thought I was crazy for marrying a policeman, but he enjoyed helping people. When it stormed, we, as a family, would be hiding out in our beds at night and he would be helping strangers stranded in high water... There are so many feelings that are going through me right now.”

Bill’s desire to help people was seen through is service several local boards and charitable organizations. He was a chairman of the board for Leaders, a non-profit corporation that cares for Lea County’s mentally handicapped.

“We went on many bowling and skating dates with the Leaders kids,” Joni said. “Those kids had a special place in his heart. He was really good with them.”

During his time as president of New Mexico Junior College, Steve McCleery said Bill was the only person he ever recruited to work at NMJC, following Bill’s career with the Hobbs Police Department. Bill was hired to run the college’s security department, but later took on second position as director of Administrative Services. Steve knew Bill about as long as he has been in Hobbs.“I first met Bill when I did the fitness programs at the police department,” Steve said. “It wasn’t very long after I got to know Bill that I learned he was a prankster. I remember when he was a motorcycle cop, he would sneak up on me when I was running. He would turn his engine off and get within about five feet behind me and then honk his horn. To this day whenever I go running, I still look over my shoulder.”

NMJC Board President Pat Chappelle said Bill’s family isn’t the only group which feels his loss.

“We feel like NMJC is a family and his NMJC family will miss his protection, his friendship and his sense of humor,” Pat said. “Anytime you were around him, you felt Bill’s presence. He was a pretty charismatic man. There is a huge hole in our hearts and our thoughts and prayers to go Joni and the rest of their family.”

Pat said Bill played an integral part in the everyday operations at NMJC.

“Most recently was his participation in the presidential search when Steve decided to retire last year,” Pat said. “Much of the success in that transition from Steve to Dr. (Kelvin) Sharp was due to Bill being involved in every part of that search. He was involved in so many things and it takes a certain kind of mindset to document everything and have the patience needed to do that.”

David Hooten, who is NMJC’s grounds supervisor, first met Bill when they both worked for the City of Hobbs.

“He was a rookie police officer and I worked in parks and recreation,” David said. “We started working together in the 1980s and I never met a man who was more considerate and willing to help others. Hobbs has lost a friend and he is going to be sorely missed around this community.”

Todd Bailey can be reached at 575-391-5440 or at .

‘... NMJC is a family and his NMJC family will miss his protection, his friendship and his sense of humor.’
Pat Chappelle
NMJC board president

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