Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part story on Rudy Burrola that began in Sunday’s edition of the Roswell Daily Record Sports section. The story began with a look at how people would remember Burrola decades down the road after he is gone. To read part one from Sunday, click here.
The family man
Years down the road, there will be stories of Rudy Burrola being born into a good family — including his parents, Moises and Veronica, along with five siblings, Ray Burrola, Rachel Espinoza and triplets Robert and Roy Burrola and Rita Lucero. His mother Veronica, a stay-at-home mom, was the first woman in Roswell to give birth to triplets that lived: Robert, Roy and Rita. His father was an ex-marine and worked as a state auditor.
“My mom and dad had a great impact on my life,” Rudy said. “My dad believed in education — he made sure we all had an education. My brother was a teacher, coach and principal, and my other siblings are accountants. I’m proud of my brothers and sisters and all my friends.”
There will be talking about the love of his life, Mary Lou, and how he met his wife at Eastern New Mexico University. People will laugh when they hear that both didn’t know the other was from Roswell or they went to Goddard at the same time. People will speak of a love that endured both of their lifetimes and how they stayed married way beyond their 50th anniversary until their dying days. People will talk about the legacy they left behind in three boys to carry on the Burrola name: Moses, Robert and Chris, who in turn gave them endless grandchildren and hours of joy.
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People will reminisce on how Rudy was a competitive athlete after his high school and college playing days — how he played competitive softball and was a racquetball champion for years. He was so good that he taught racquetball for Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell for 10 years.
There will be memories of how he is in the New Mexico Boxing Hall of Fame as a promoter. They will also talk about the legendary Budweiser softball that would run from Thursday to Sunday for 24 hours nonstop until there was a winner. None of the players that played in the tournament played for money — but for the love of the game and the trophy.
There will be talking about how the Boys & Girls Club had some of the greatest boxers in Roswell history: Jerry Martinez, Ray Baca, Willie Hall Jr., Chubby Brown and Edward Vigil, to name a few. People will talk about how boxing helped make a name for Roswell. They used to say that Roswell boxers were ready to fight when they woke up. Boxers at the club would fight for and with each other — weight classes didn’t matter, boxers at the club were always ready for the challenge.
Rudy remembers one time he was having a boxing smoker, and the Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing Club showed up unannounced wanting to fight. Rudy told them to bring it on — out of nine fights, Rudy’s boxers only lost once.
The Boys & Girls Club was the place to go. They had a good computer program and mini-bikes; they had arts and crafts. The club had its own swim team as well, and sometimes the club would be open into the early morning hours. The club had ceramic, macramé and they even had their own kiln. They painted on copper, with each counselor being certified. Rudy hired key people: Ray Baca, Steve Wagner and Tommy Bird, who helped him run the club tremendously.
Baseball was a passion for him and he was involved in the East Side Little league for 20 years, serving a stint as vice president and president.
Roswell Youth Football League has the Burrola fingerprints on it, he was president of the league for six years and volunteered for 12 years. One of the teams that won a championship was the Roswell Warriors. The Warriors won a national championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, as then-Roswell Mayor Tom Jennings saluted the team for their athletic accomplishments. The team will remember presenting a game ball to teammate O.J. Washington, who was injured in a car accident before the game.
The team will remember head coach Dennis Thames and assistant coaches Tito Garcia, Javy Jaramillo, Jim Fulkerson and Troy Grant for their efforts. Many will remember those players from that team: Jonathan Hernandez, Gab Garcia, Cliff Pirtle, Celeb Grant, Curtis Thames, O.J. Washington, Jay Fulkerson, Andy Carrell, Chris Ortega, Anson Mancuso, Mario Regalado, Anthony Van Maanen, Michael Ramirez, Timothy Sanchez, Chris Burrola, Jeremy Johnson, Andrew Graves and Chance Fraze.
Many of the dignitaries in the future will talk about how Rudy had a sense of timing. How he decided to end his association with the Boys & Girls Club and go into business for himself. Him and his wife, Mary Lou, founded CRM Discount Awards & Screen Printing. Rudy and his wife were honored in 2012 by the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce with the Don and Dona Award of Respect and honored for decades of service in the Roswell community.
“We just do as much as we can for the city, the county and especially the youth,” Rudy said when accepting the award. “Working from football to baseball, basketball, racquetball, all the activities with the youth for the past 30 years, this makes it even more special when you’re honored for your efforts — it’s just a great feeling.”
People will talk about his friendships in life, how he and Jay Gluck both started at the bottom with nothing, and now, Gluck is a mogul with an empire of Dairy Queens and Arby’s. Gluck was there the whole time with Rudy when they both played racquetball. Gluck would sponsor and play along with Rudy, as well. Rudy just retired for the second time in his life — this time from his own business, CRM — which he handed off to his son Robert.
“My best thing is to see my best friend, Bobby Carroll in church,” Rudy said. “He sits 50 feet from me. They like to sit in a certain area, as soon as I walk into a church, I look and see if my buddy, my brother is right there, and there he is with his wife. We have a bond — a bond you don’t break. It’s the same with Jay Gluck.”
Common among royalty
Rudy has met congressmen, governors and shook hands with President Ronald Reagan in 1987, which was one of his goals in life. The honor of shaking President Reagan’s hand at nationals was earned along with Paul Peyton, who was the Youth of the Year locally, and advanced to state, which led to nationals.
Rudyard Kipling said: “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, or walk with Kings — nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, if all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.”
Be good to others
Rudy feels grateful for the life he’s had. The one thing he has always done and instilled in his children is to work for what you want in life and to be good to people. He feels fortunate parents have trusted him to look after their kids, teach them, train them and protect them.
When he was retiring from the Boys & Girls Club, Peyton said what so many say that have been impacted by Rudy Burrola: “I hate to see you go,” Peyton said, “but I’m glad you were here.”
Jay Gluck: “Rudy was an outstanding football player and baseball player for Goddard. Rudy has been my close friend since I got in Roswell, that’s 35-40 years ago. I think so much of him — he was the best man at my wedding. He made that youth football program what it is. I’m shocked they didn’t name the field after him. He just worked around the clock on that field and made the league successful. Rudy is a great man.”
Bobby Carroll: “We’ve been best friends for over 50 years and we will stay best friends. Rudy was one of the best athletes that came out of Roswell. He could shoot in basketball as a guard, and he was a gymnast — he could jump on the trampoline and do double and triple somersaults — he had no fear back then. Rudy is just a great guy.”
Ray Burrola: “He enables kids to reach their potential and beyond.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.