In tribute: Former detective loved challenge

Courtesy photo Bill Bollinger was a former Clovis police detective and city commissioner.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

When Bill Bollinger saw something he liked — a case to solve, a piece of wood to form, or a person to care about —he never let go.

The former Clovis police detective and city commissioner died Aug. 5 of a heart attack at the age of 76.

Family members said he was a long-time Democrat who loved politics, and that his nickname was “Jigger” for all the solutions he could find to problems while investigating cases or doing woodwork.

“He could have been a millionaire if he could have patented his ideas,” said his daughter, Sherri Reed.

Born July 18, 1932, in Portales, Bill Bollinger grew up on the family farm with his four brothers. Older brother Johnnie Bollinger said Bill didn’t enjoy milking cows, so he’d do that and let Bill feed the hogs. No matter who did it, work always got done.

“When it was time for the harvest,” Johnnie Bollinger said, “Daddy would see that all of us were working.”

The need to work and support a family moved him to Clovis, where he became a detective with the police department.

“We couldn’t live on $150 a month, so he applied at the police department and we were going to get paid $235 a month,” Sue Bollinger said. “Back then, you couldn’t turn that down.”

Sue said her husband loved the challenge of figuring out a crime, and once solved a case by following the paper trail of a supermarket-issued stamp.

But she wasn’t always impressed with the man she married, particularly the way he teased her from the first day they met.

“I thought he was the most obnoxious person I’d ever met in my life,” she said with a laugh, noting that he never changed. “I guess I did.”

“He was always the same person. He loved everybody who would let him.”

His woodworking gave Bill Bollinger the chance to meet new people, which he loved, his wife said. He would take his wooden cars to sell at Border Days in Texico and Farwell, the Peanut Valley Festival in Portales and many points east.

“We’d go to Hereford, we’d go to Dimmitt, we’d go to Amarillo,” she said.

But the woodworking wasn’t limited to cars. Family members noted a wall he built to create a tomato vine nearly 7 feet tall.

“He built me a roping dummy,” said great-grandson Dylan Bollinger. “He liked to build those.”

And he liked to joke, Sue Bollinger said, right up to the final months. The two would get up slowly some mornings due to arthritis, and Sue said he always threatened to “call Muffley (Funeral Home) and tell him to turn on the burner” if she was too slow to get up.

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ Managing Editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail: