When it comes to certain individuals, walking through their past with them can be a true historical journey. Tommy Felber is one of those people who has tales of everything from serving his country to educating students to earning degrees and working for a number of very large corporations.
Not only is he a giving soul to those around him, but he is also a true character that adds humor and charm into a world that can use both these days.
A friend of his, Roger Burnett — a fellow giving heart living in this community — said that when it comes to Felber, “he always has a joke or a story to share. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for somebody, especially the elderly.”
From teacher to salesman to refrigeration repairman to mechanic, Felber, who comes from Colorado Springs, remembers his military influence.
“I began my life as an Army brat,” he said. “My father was military. Upon his retirement, he became the caretaker at Camp Mary White.”
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Established in 1927, Camp Mary White was one of the earliest Girl Scout camps in America and the first in New Mexico.
Felber followed in his father’s footsteps when it came to the military.
“I was caught in the ‘triangle’ at some point, which is my pet name for the triad of Artesia, Roswell and Portales,” he said. “I graduated from Artesia High School in 1960 and attained a Bachelor of Science at ENMU.”
When he graduated, he trained, lived and learned at a location that has as much history as Felber himself. He was part of Fort Des Moines in Iowa, a historical location that was constructed back in 1903, and has continued to this day serving in many different roles.
From being a base for cavalry, initially, Fort Des Moines moved forward in 1917 to training the first officer candidate class of African Americans. Utilizing the fort to treat World War I casualties in 1918, it also served as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp (CCC) from 1933 to 1934. CCC was a work relief program that trained and employed millions of young men during the Great Depression on environmental projects.
Then, upon the United States entering World War II, the fort became a training center for females called the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The WAC was created during World War II to enable women to serve in noncombat positions. With the exception of nurses, up until this point, women had never served within the ranks of the U.S. Army.
During Felber’s stay, Fort Des Moines had become a U.S. Army Reserve training center, which it continues to be today. Becoming a chief warrant officer, Felber went on to serve his country in Vietnam. Considering the Army trains warrant officers to serve in specific administration and technical positions, Felber’s foray into this area would help him long after he was back in the private sector.
After increasing his technical and management skills in the Army, he received his Master of Business Administration from Texas Tech. He ended up utilizing all of his expertise in two specific fields — teaching others and working at large corporations.
“I loved teaching,” Felber said. “Not only was I a coach in the Portales school district, I was a vocational/technical instructor in Artesia, and a mechanics teacher at Eastern New Mexico University, as well, for over a decade.”
But when it came to the private sector, Felber’s skills earned him jobs in international corporations, such as United Technologies where he worked as a technical consultant. In addition, he spent time in Houston, Texas working for TMC, and even had a stint at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Kissimmee, Florida.
“I am a jack of all trades,” Felber said.
Felber has grown a large family during his time in Roswell.
“I married a gal in Roswell, and we’re surrounded by children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” he said.
Felber and his wife, Patsy, enjoy mentoring, helping around town and giving time to clubs, like the Sunrise Optimist Club. He also goes out of his way to help people who need it.
“Living at Quail Village, I try to fix all the widows’ cars for free,” Felber said. But his kindness doesn’t stop there. As all of his friends and neighbors will tell you, this retired auto mechanics teacher not only fixes cars for those in need, but also makes repairs to peoples’ apartments at no cost to them.
When it comes to hobbies and relaxation, Felber says that traveling is a favorite thing for both he and his wife. Having gone to many locations, from Cancun to Syracuse, New York, his top spot remains the islands of the U.S.
“Hawaii is definitely our favorite place,” Felber said. “I lived in many areas, like Houston while I was working, but they were so hot and humid. I even visited Panama City at one point, that claimed a ham and beer joint called Pistol Pete’s, but Hawaii is definitely the best place to visit.”