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Cooking for others a big deal for this former Texan

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Though she doesn’t think of herself as a people person, Roswell resident and former Texan Dorinne Lykins cooks meals for people all over town and crochets afghans for the New Mexico State Police, church members and friends. (Timothy P. Howsare Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

You’ve probably never met Roswell resident Dorinne Lykins. But if you lived in Roswell for any length of time, it’s quite likely you have eaten something cooked or baked by her, whether it be lasagna, ham, biscuits and sausage gravy, cookies or angel food cake.

Or, if you are a New Mexico State Police officer, it’s possible you or someone you know might own an afghan crocheted by Lykins.

A 10-year member of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Roswell, Lykins, 80, cooks enough food each week to feed a small army.

And she does it all on her own in her house on South Washington Street. Except for some meat receipts that she turns in to the church and fruit donated to make cobblers, Lykins pays for everything out of her own pocket. She has two 6-foot freezers and one 4-foot freezer, where she often stores meals that she has prepared ahead of time.

“I like to think and cook ahead,” she said. “I might not feel good somedays.”

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And she keeps written notes on all of her cooking ventures.

When interviewed by the Daily Record on Wednesday, Lykins was preparing six pans of lasagna. Two pans were going to Westminster, where the church feeds at-risk CASA boys and their parents each Thursday.

Two of the other pans were prepared for Christian Outreach Ministries on Sunset Avenue, which operates a shelter close by on Michigan Avenue for men recovering from addictions.

The last two pans were for neighbors and friends.

This past weekend. she was a little busier than usual, preparing three meals for a conference held at Westminster on Friday and Saturday.

She also cooks biscuits and sausage gravy for some of the coaches in town, including Roswell High School football coach Jeff Lynn.

Lykins said she has all of the RHS football players logged onto her computer, and when a birthday comes up, a letter is mailed from the coach to the player.

Every year, Lykins crochets three afghans for the New Mexico State Police Department’s annual meeting. One afghan has a large NMSP logo and the other two have little teddy bear images and the NMSP logo crocheted into them.

Asked if she knows what the state police do with the afghans, Lykins quipped, “I don’t know whether they raffle them off or give them away. They just write me a letter to thank me.”

Lykins also has crocheted lap blankets for all of her church members and other people in town. Each one is personalized with the individual’s first name.

“If I watch TV, I crochet. I need to be doing something,” she said.

Lykins calls herself a “behind the scenes” person, content to work on her own in the kitchen while others carry on with the rest of the legwork after she delivers the food.

“All I do is cook,” she said, while giving credit to the other volunteers at her church.

“Everyone out there is extremely involved. It’s amazing,” she said.

She watches the newspaper ads and buys a lot of the food on sale.

“I buy a lot of pork,” she said. “Ribs when they’re 99 cents a pound and hams when they’re cheap.”

She gets her hamburger in bulk at Sam’s Club.

Dorrinne (Moss) Lykins as a child in Phillips, Texas, with two employees from her parents’ pharmacy. (Photo courtesy of phillipsblackhawks.com)

Lykins was born in 1938 in Phillips, Texas, a small town in the Texas Panhandle that was named after the town’s chief employer, the Phillips Petroleum Co. Her parents owned the Tom and John Pharmacy.

Lykins believes that she and her brother inherited their cooking skills from their mom. And perhaps Lykins’ generosity was inherited from her mother as well.

“We got the cooking bug from our mother,” she said.

Her brother, Bill Moss, a retired construction contracor in Roswell, also enjoys cooking to feed other people, she said.

Lykins said when customers came into her parents’ pharmacy, her mother would inquire about their birthdays. On the day of particular customer’s birthday, Lykins said her mom would bake an angel food cake and deliver it to that person’s doorstep.

Once a thriving community with a high school auditorium that could seat 1,000 people, Phillips is now a ghost town. After the high school graduated its last class in 1987, the town soon folded when the oil company forced the remaining residents to leave with a federal court order.

Though the town had been declining since the 1960s, the big blow came in 1980 when a huge refinery explosion severely damaged most of the businesses, schools, churches and homes.

But little Dorinne Moss and her family left long before the devastating explosion. Her family moved to Roswell when she was 8 and her parents became owners of City Drugs, which was located at First and Main streets. Lykins began working at the store for 20 cents an hour after she asked her father for a weekly allowance.

After graduating high school, Lykins worked at ICX Truck Lines for 20 years.

Next, she became a civil servant, working for the Army ROTC at the New Mexico Institute for eight or nine years.

She said she left the institute on the same day that her boss, Commandant of Students Chuck Hanson, did. Hanson became a real estate agent and Lykins went to work for him.

Lykins’ parents eventually moved back to Texas, leaving her and brother Bill behind in Roswell.

After her father died, her mother moved back to Roswell. Luckily, the house directly behind her house was for sale and Lykins was able to buy it. Her mother lived there for 20 years until her death in 1990.

“My mom and I had a ball,” she said.

Lykins and her husband Kirby never had children. Kirby passed away in 1996.

Having lost all of her family except for Bill, her only sibling, Lykins said this about all the people she cooks for: “I have a new family now.”

Community News reporter Timothy P. Howsare can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or vistas@rdrnews.com.