May 26 – Hobbs, NM. What began several years ago as a gesture of love and remembrance has grown into a quarter million dollar endowment providing educational opportunities and support for hundreds of students.
In 2000, Janice Spence decided to honor the memory of her late husband, Jim Spence, who had passed away in 1999, by sponsoring a golf tournament for employees of the car dealership they had built together during their 35-year marriage.
Because the tournament proved to be a successful way to pay tribute to her husband’s memory while providing an enjoyable outlet for employees, it was decided that a larger, annual event was in order. Partnering with the New Mexico Junior College Foundation, Spence turned the event into a memorial golf tournament championship, with proceeds to be used to benefit deserving students. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Since its inception, approximately $220,000 has been raised through the highly successful tournament, with an additional $40,000 anticipated for this year alone.
According to Jennifer Jordon, Executive Director of the NMJC Foundation, the tournament provides all types of educational support for the college. The Foundation, which was formed in 1969 for the sole purpose of supporting, promoting, and encouraging academic and career/technical programs that lead to graduation from NMJC, raises funds to provide not only scholarships for students, but also work-study assistance, as well as professional development and state-of-the-art classroom equipment for faculty, among other things.
“This spring,” said Jordon, “thirty-nine scholarships were awarded to students for participation in the college’s community band, thanks to the success of the tournament over the years.” According to Jordon, in order to be eligible for a scholarship, students must have a declared major and a minimum 2.5 grade point average.
Each year, the Foundation searches for qualified applicants for each of the more than 50 scholarships available. Members of the Foundation include Spence, Jeannie Anderson, Ken Batson, Zane Bergman, Ray Betzen, Jim Burke, Billy Cummings, Thurman Duncan, Kim Fulfer, Larry Hanna, Dan Hardin, Jack Henry, Debra Hicks, Daniel Johncox, Dr. Steve McCleery, David Pyeatt, Dan Socolofsky, Jimmy Waechter, and Pam Zimmerman.
For Janice Spence, the tournament has been rewarding on several levels. “It’s wonderful to have Jim commemorated this way, and knowing that so many students are benefiting means even more,” she said. “I’m just pleased that through this we’ve been able to impact so many lives in such a positive way.”
The 7th Annual Jim Spence Memorial Golf Championship will be held June 10-11 at Hobbs Country Club, with a field limited to sixty teams. For more information or to sign up, please contact Roger Case at the Hobbs Country Club Pro Shop at (575) 393-5212.
Mexico Junior College, 5317 Lovington Hwy, Hobbs, NM 88240
Phone: 575.392.4510, 1.800.657.6260
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