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Lonnie Allsup well-remembered

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Most people probably know Lonnie Allsup for his decades in the grocery business. But he was also a noted businessman in radio broadcasting in New Mexico and Texas. Allsup passed away on Jan. 28 at his home in Clovis and a memorial service was held on Jan. 31 at Faith Christian Church in Clovis.

Allsup was born in Lubbock in 1933. He graduated from high school in Morton, Texas, in 1950. He attended college at Texas Tech University and Hardin-Simmons University.

He joined the United States Air Force and served for four years. He and his wife operated their first grocery store in Roswell. It was called Lonnie’s Drive-In Grocery.

According to the Allsup’s website, the store was purchased in 1956, another store was purchased in 1958 and another in 1959. Over time, there were 12 stores in three communities.

Rick Keefer, who knew Allsup in the broadcasting business, said Allsup operated the Roswell stores for a number of years until another company came into the state.

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In 1963, Allsup sold his properties to Southland Corp. (7-Eleven), “and at that time, I understand they purchased the stores in Roswell from Mr. Allsup. He then returned closer to his home base of operations,” Keefer said.

“So he came back and centered his business here in Clovis and started to open the convenience stores based here in Clovis, (which) grew the company to more than 300 stores from this location,” Keefer said.

A number of Allsup’s stores are located in Chaves and Eddy Counties.

Radio, too

Keefer may have been a competitor of Allsup in the radio broadcasting business in Clovis, but after selling the radio stations he owned, Keefer went to work for Allsup’s Zia Broadcasting.

Keefer said he first met Allsup in the late ‘90s when he purchased some radio stations in the Clovis-West Texas market. Keefer said he sold those stations in 2006 and then came to work for Zia Broadcasting Company as the general manager.

“I’d have to say Mr. Allsup is one of the nicest business people I’ve ever met in my life,” Keefer said. “A good business owner, exceptionally caring for his people, always concerned about everybody that works with him.”

Keefer said he had a chance to see Allsup work on the broadcast side of his business along with the convenience store side, too.

“Mr. Allsup was very well thought of by every person that knew him, employees and folks that let alone just knew him,” Keefer said.

Keefer added that Allsup was a private person, “and an exceptional employer and a very good person to work for.

“Mr. Allsup may have been one of the first people in our industry to figure out synergy,” Keefer said. “And how to figure out how to make use of a couple of different businesses that would be good for both, and I think that’s how I’ve always seen Zia Broadcasting. Our job has been here to provide broadcast entertainment and information for the audience, and at the same time, to also support our convenience stores by encouraging folks to find good products at the best price.”

Keefer said the radio stations and the convenience stores have always been a good combination for serving the Clovis area.

“Mr. Allsup had always gone in the world of radio to make sure we do the political coverage that we need to do and we’ve been the voice of the Clovis Wildcats for 65 years. We take sports awful seriously,” Keefer added.

Keefer said that Allsup had a strong faith in God.

“We sometimes don’t know a person’s faith and Mr. Allsup was exemplary in his church and did everything to bring people to the Lord and that was the focus of his whole life. I think if anything’s to be remembered, that’s one of the best things Mr. Allsup did,” Keefer said.

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.