A tribute to our Rockabilly Mayor, Robert Lumpkin…
Tucumcari’s Rockabilly Mayor was better known as Mayor Lumpkin or Robert Lumpkin. We met several years back while we were “hired guns” for another great festival, Rockabilly on the Route. Over the course of years, Robert and I shared many stories surrounding music, what my crew does for shows, and a lot about Tucumcari. We enjoyed year after year coming to town and always getting caught up with everything going on in each other’s lives, and over a few glasses of whiskey, I might add. We laughed and joked about so many good things, and also talked openly about challenges. Robert was always intrigued by our connection to music and people. We shared so many tales of the road that I am sure we would bore most folks listening in, if not put them to sleep.
After the retirement of a festival, Robert came to me and asked if we would like to continue to support Tucumcari and create a new festival here in town that would fill a void. Of course, by that time, I had a true fondness over Robert’s passion. He always placed Tucumcari at the top of the list when it came to items of importance. We discussed several matters, and by all means we were in. This is our passion and Robert knew it. We came up with Rockin’ Route 66, a celebration of Route 66. Now, neither of us knew all the obstacles and “roadblocks” we were about to face, but again, there was not one day or one discussion that Robert ever gave up. He believed in Tucumcari. He believed in Rockin’ Route 66.
My crew worked hard on developing long-term goals, answering hard questions, providing professional insight, creating a brand that both represents a festival as well as Tucumcari. Robert stood by our side the entire way. We spent over a year “fighting” for the city Robert believed in so much to create a dream in the heart of Route 66. We finally got word, and Robert shared that we received the blessing and support to create Rockin’ Route 66. This was great! After a year of traveling to and from Tucumcari, we used basically any excuse to come back to town, spend time with Robert, and continue to enjoy everything the city had to offer, not to mention the pure enjoyment of the road trip from the east to the west…
Shortly after, things changed, and changed quickly. I called one day without an answer or callback, which was never the case over the years. I knew Robert was always busy. He was always involved and “fighting” for something or someone. Well, a short period went by and I got a call from Robert. He explained to me that he was sick. We took our time on that call together, and I knew we were saying our goodbyes. He shared so many positive words, even then. I always knew Robert was a teacher, and you could see why he has left such a positive influence on so many. He genuinely cared. We agreed to touch base weekly from that point on, and I think it was just to keep his spirits alive. You see, Robert was part of our inspiration, and I think the role changed at that point so we could be his inspiration.
Soon after, during one of our calling / texting sessions, I received a text back from Robert’s daughter, Bobbi. She explained to me that Robert’s health has declined but he is comfortable. Her words were just as comforting as if it were Robert talking to me that day. Now, many do not know our daily routine, and that is understood. Well, during a major road trip and festival, through social media we received the news of Robert’s passing.
Since that sad day, I have turned to my crew and said this first year of Rockin’ Route 66 will be dedicated to Mayor Lumpkin. His selfless acts, including working with us to provide facts over passion, to create a dream that carries the voice of Tucumcari worldwide, to create a family festival in the heart of Route66, this was a shared goal and dream that goes out to the “Rockabilly Mayor” of Tucumcari.
Robert, you have seen the world in good times and in bad. You fought for our country as a Marine. You have always come home to support your fellow neighbors, even at times when you fully didn’t agree with them. You spent countless decades raising a family, and for that matter, raising many other children through your teaching and influence. You dedicated a large portion of your life to publicly serving your community, which is often a thankless position. You stood by our side and supported us in the creation of Rockin’ Route 66, which we hope will be a part of Tucumcari for decades to come. You not only shared in our dream but helped so many others achieve their dreams. Robert, this year’s Rockin’ Route 66 is dedicated to you. Rest in Peace, good friend. May we “rock this town” so you can enjoy the music in heaven above! Some may have referred to you as a “politician” in life, but not us. We will always reference you as the “Rockabilly Mayor” and a friend… “Hoorah”
Your Friend in life,