In Tribute: Portales civic leader dies at 62

By Karl Terry: Freedom Newspapers

Giving back to his local community and fellow man was central to Rick Hauptmann’s being.

An accountant by trade, he devoted himself to civic work through organizations including United Way, Rotary, the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce, Roosevelt County Literacy Council, Eastern New Mexico University Foundation and others. Friends and family say he didn’t stop with membership in those groups — he was active and involved in leading them.

Hauptmann succumbed to cancer Monday, Aug. 20, 2007. He was 62.

“I would say that his civic involvement was almost a hobby for him,” Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Manager and close friend Sharon King said.

King became friends with Hauptmann while the two served on the United Way board and from their work at the Chamber. She said Hauptmann’s leadership was instrumental in combining the Portales and Clovis United Way organizations into one group. King said she was skeptical of the move, but Hauptmann moved it forward courageously.

Hauptmann’s real passion was science fiction. He had a close relationship with the late, local science fiction writer Jack Williamson, with whom he collaborated on a few projects.

“His main hobby was science fiction. We had a whole library devoted to it in our house,” said Hauptmann’s daughter Erika Peltonen.

Peltonen said she had been unsure about moving to eastern New Mexico from Kerrville, Texas, in 1987 but the family grew to love it. She said he never missed his native Chicago, where he and his late wife, Janet, met working at the Dog and Suds restaurant chain.

Choking back tears, Peltonen said the achievement her dad was most proud of was being nominated for science fiction’s Hugo Award for his bibliography of Williamson’s works.

“I was there when he got that phone call,” she said. “I know it meant a lot to him.”

Hauptmann loved his fellowship with the Portales Rotary Club where he was a past president, friends said.

“He was one of the most unselfish and giving people I know,” said friend and fellow Rotarian, Gerry Huybregts.

Huybregts, a professor in the ENMU College of Business, said Hauptmann, who was retired as chief financial officer of Southwest Canners, had an exceptionally sharp mind for business.

Family and friends will gather at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Hauptmann residence, 304 E. 17th St., Portales, to celebrate the life of Rick Hauptmann.