Committee of 50 dates back to 1948

By Don McAlavy

Toward the end of 2003, Doc Stewart was recognized for his many years of dedicated and faithful service to the community of Clovis, Cannon Air Force Base and the Committee of 50. He deserved all the applause and thanks he received.

The Committee of 50 was organized before Stewart arrived in Clovis, so this is the history that Gene Walker has written about this organization.

“In 1948, Mr. J. Harvey Wilson, manager of the Southern Union Gas Company and chairman of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, called my father, Roy Walker (Walker Oil Company), and asked him if he would contact Sen. Dennis Chavez to explore ‘ways and means’ to re-open the Clovis Army Air Base. Sen. Chavez, a close personal friend of my father, was New Mexico’s senior senator, fourth-ranking senator in the U. S. Senate, and chairman of the senate military affairs appropriations committee.

“Dad called Sen. Chavez and he suggested that the chamber form a military affairs committee and have three men come to Washington, D.C. The senator would contact Sen. Clinton P. Anderson, New Mexico’s other U.S. senator, and they would set up appointments with the U.S. Department of Air Force and the Department of Defense. J. Harvey Wilson and a Chamber committee asked Roy Walker, Max Meadors, and Charlie Fischer (publisher of the Clovis News Journal) to serve as a committee of three to be the first ‘Washington Committee.’

“The chamber drafted a resolution that the newly formed chamber military affairs committee be made up of 50 chamber members (Committee of 50) and each would pay an additional $50 to the chamber. This $2,500 would serve as a basis for funding the three men to travel to Washington as well as necessary expenses in Washington used to contact the Department of Air Force and Department of Defense.

“Sen. Anderson asked if his good friend, Joe Sisler, president of the Clovis National Bank, could be added to this Washington committee. Sisler became a member of this committee and this became a four-man committee. This committee was asked to work closely with the chamber and make reports to the entire Committee of 50 each time they returned from Washington. These four men served together for over 25 years as the Washington committee for the Committee of 50.

“About 1975, Mr. Fischer was asked to become publisher of another Freedom Communications newspaper in Florida and he moved from Clovis. Doc Stewart was asked to fill this vacancy on the Washington committee. Three additional Clovis men were appointed to serve on the Washington committee as Max Meadors, Joe Sisler, and finally Roy Walker retired from the committee. These men were D. L. Ingram (Ingram Oil Company), Wilbur Johnson, and Dr. Jacob Moberly. All served this community and the CAFB very well. Ted Hartley (now Judge Hartley) was added to the committee. Additional Clovis Chamber men and women continue to serve in roles of leadership and on the Washington Committee.

“U. S. Rep. Bill Richardson (now Gov. Richardson) was instrumental on more than one occasion of using his tenure and long standing relationship in the U.S. House of Representatives to influence the retention of CAFB and help in seeking appropriations for the missions at CAFB. Today all of our U.S. Senators and Representatives continue to serve Clovis and CAFB very well.

“I helped draft a ‘Welcome’ CAFB brochure in 1988 while serving on the executive committee with Committee of 50 chairman, Bill Kinyon. In 1995, after 32 years of serving on the Committee of 50, I resigned so that other chamber business and professional members would have the opportunity to serve on this committee. I am proud to have served Clovis and CAFB. Should you desire more information on members or activities of the Committee of 50, contact the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, 215 Main, 763-3435.”

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at: