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Arville Wayne Sullins


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ARVILLE WAYNE SULLINS was born April 4, 1934, in Waxahachie, Texas, to Raymond Rice Sullins and Dorothy Mae (King) Sullins. Arville was the oldest of three brothers born to Dorothy and Raymond.

Times were hard in the 1930s and Arville’s mom and dad moved around working on Texas ranches to make a living. His mother would cook and his father would “bust broncs” and do general cowboy labor. His father’s brother, “Uncle Boots,” would travel around with the family from ranch to ranch to partner up with his brother Raymond in breaking horses. Life was tough but pure in those days, and one grew up with a work ethic or they didn’t survive at all. Arville’s father eventually went on to become a lineman with Southwestern Public Service.

Arville’s business, Southwestern Electric Shop in Hobbs, NM, was founded in 1949 by Arville’s father Raymond and his wife Dorothy. Arville, who had grown up with a strong, deeply ingrained work ethic instilled in him by his father, mother and uncle, began working for the company at the age of 15. By the time he graduated from Hobbs High School in Hobbs, New Mexico in 1952 at the age of 18, Arville was a journeyman wireman earning $1.25 an hour.

When the company began they did general repair work and wired houses in fast-growing Hobbs and the surrounding area. Throughout the 1950s, the business expanded into commercial and industrial markets. In 1959, working for American Pipeline and other entities, Southwestern installed automated fuel facilities at numerous locations from coast to coast. In a few years, the little company boasted completed work projects in 13 states.

Arville, who had already become the CEO, acquired the company from his father in 1966 and, three years later, opened a second office in Hurley, New Mexico, near Kennecott Copper’s Santa Rita open pit mine. Southwestern became the dominant electrical contractor involved in the expansion and modernization of Kennecott’s smelting plant.

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When Transportation Manufacturing Company (TMC) expanded its facilities at the Roswell Industrial Air Center (RIAC) in 1987, Southwestern was selected to be the electrical contractor. Arville then moved to Roswell to manage the fast-track project which, when completed, made TMC the largest bus manufacturing plant in North America. In addition to its work at the RIAC, Southwestern continued to complete major electrical projects at the Roswell Airport, the Berrendo Water Cooperative, and the Wool Bowl.

In Roswell, Arville met his wife, Melodi Salas. They lived at what they called their “little oasis” west of town. Arville leaves behind a crew of dogs, a cat named Ramona, and two horses that will miss him dearly. On March 25, 2021, Arville passed away peacefully, at home, holding hands with his wife, Melodi Salas Sullins.

He is also survived by his son, Lynn Ray Sullins and wife Nancy of Tulsa, Oklahoma; his daughter Bonnie Dale Sullins Neal and husband, Randy Neal of Hobbs; and a granddaughter and two grandsons; his first wife, Betty Sullins.

(Deep appreciation to Rod Adair and Valli West for their collaboration in composing Arville’s obituary.)

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