FARMINGTON — Orval "Dobber" Merle McLaughlin became a local legend before he passed away in early October.
The 88-year-old Farmington businessman died Oct. 4.
He was a member of the Farmington Rotary Club and served as a mason. He was also a member of the San Juan Country Club and served as president and board member. He owned and operated Oil and Gas Equipment Corp.
He made a life for himself and his family in Farmington in 1954, after leaving Oklahoma during its economic bust. He came looking for work, so he could support his family.
Though he handed the ownership of Oil & Gas Corp. to his daughter Oleta and son-in-law Mike Degner some 20 years ago, according to his son Dean McLaughlin, he built the company the old-fashioned way with hard work.
Dean McLaughlin said he was 5 years old when the family moved to Farmington. The family of five came because the boom years of the Four Corners area were at a peak and there was work to be found.
"He started working (in Oklahoma) as a roughneck, and then became a driller on rigs," Dean McLaughlin said. "There was a bust there in Oklahoma, and there was a boom here. We came in an 8-by-30-foot trailer. We didn't even have our trailer parked and he went looking for work that day."
When asked what kind of legacy his dad left for him, Dean McLaughlin had an immediate answer: honesty and character and honor.
He said his father was also a great business man.
"He never laid anybody off from lack of work," Dean McLaughlin said. "He believed in the people that worked there."
You know that Dobber McLaughlin had an impact on the Farmington community when people you talk to remember him from as far back as 20 to 30 years ago.
George Sharpe, Merrion Oil & Gas investment manager, said he knew Dobber McLaughlin, mostly as a kid. Sharpe said he loved to play golf and that is how he remembers him.
"He was a sweetheart of a guy to be around. Always had a smile on," Sharpe said.