Submitted photo

Belen Mayor Robert Noblin, far right, and his usual crew, Lando Santillanes and his nephew, Edward; and Noblin’s daughter, Karlie.

Asked and Answered: Getting to know your neighbor

Robert Noblin has been the owner and CEO Noblin Funeral Service, Inc./NM Funeral Properties, LLC for 17 years. He has been mayor of the city of Belen for eight months, and was on the Belen City Council for two years.


 

Q

 What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

A

“While driving, I am generally always thinking about work and city business. I also always find time to tune in to a favorite station and sing along. Often, I also think about how goofy many people drive in New Mexico and how utterly confusing 3- and 4-way stops are to most.”

 

Q

What’s a myth about your profession you’d like to bust?

A

 “One of the biggest myths about a funeral professional is that we spend enormous amounts of time tending to the deceased. Realistically, a majority of time is spent tending to the needs of the living and doing our best to ensure a fitting, final farewell to a life lived. In addition, I believe in community involvement, sponsoring local events and being just as much a part of happy times as sad.”

 

Q

What were you like in high school?

A

 “In high school, I was a complete nerd. I loved every minute of my high school years and still maintain contact with many of my friends from those years. I have never enjoyed math, but science was always a big interest of mine.

“While many others opted for early out our senior year, I opted for more music classes. During my senior year, four of my seven classes were choir or band.”

 

Q

What is the best advice you’ve ever received and from whom?

A

 “My grandmother has always had a true, Southern way of getting a point across. Many things she has taught over the years include, ‘A leopard never changes its spots,’ ‘Even when a snake sheds its skin, it’s still a snake,’ and ‘God never gives us more than we can handle.’

“My mother also was a tremendous support, who always reaffirmed that any goal can be accomplished with hard work and effort; nothing in life is free and the rewards of sacrifice are great.”

Submitted photo

Belen Mayor Robert Noblin takes a cruise around town in his convertible.

Submitted photo

Mayor Robert Noblin says his daughter, Karlie, inspires him because of the way she’s handled her illness.

Q

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A

 “A local funeral director spoke with our sixth-grade class on career day. I went home that afternoon and told my mother, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a funeral director.’ At first, it was ill-received, with chatter that I needed counseling; however, as time went by, my parents became very supportive and were my biggest cheerleaders.

“The gentleman who spoke to my class, Walter Snellings, later became my mentor, manager and is still a great friend. I had a full-ride scholarship to James Madison University for piano performance but decided that music would always be a part of who I am, not a career choice.”

 

Q

Who inspires you?

A

 “My daughter, Karlie, is a tremendous inspiration. Diagnosed as a Type I Diabetic at age 7, she has shown me that nothing is an excuse for laziness. For her, T1D has never been used to her advantage or as a handicap. All obstacles are easily overcome with a positive mindset and a bit of fortitude.”

 

Q

If you could work any other job for one day, what would it be and why?

A

 “If I could choose one job for another day, I’d like to work as a funeral director in someone else’s funeral home. I have never quit learning and always strive to bring new and better ideas into my business to continually improve what we provide.  Peers are a very important part of progress, and I am always willing to explore a new idea or take advice from others in the same profession.”

 

Q

What do you do in your free time?

A

“I enjoy many things in my spare time. A lot of times, time spent alone is very productive and gives me the opportunity to catch up on simple life chores. When I’m not ‘adulting,’ I love spending time with those I care about, finding new and exciting things to do. 

“I also really enjoy traveling — anywhere! I recently purchased an RV to push myself to travel more. Rumor has it, I’m also quite the karaoke nerd. My house is also usually occupied by friends or the kids’ friends.”

 

Q

What’s something about you most people don’t know?

A

“I’m approachable and available. For some reason, whether it’s the business owner aspect or the mayor aspect, I hear often that people feel I’m unapproachable. I enjoy nothing more than getting to know new people, learning about them and listening to ideas. I want to help people in every aspect of life. 

“I think many are also used to seeing me in a suit and during funerals, so they may not understand that I do have a very open and fun-loving personality.

“Ultimately, my life goal is to leave the world a better place for those left to navigate its beauties an complexities.”

Submitted photo

The staff at Noblin Funeral Services.

Q

What three books would you to take to a deserted island?

A

 “None, I’ve never been a reader. Maybe ‘How to Avoid Deserted Islands,’ ‘What To Do to Escape a Deserted Island’ and ‘Making Instruments from Coconuts; For Idiots Stuck on Deserted Islands.’

 

Q

You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?

A

 “After I gripe for a while about the massive amount that will be taken in taxes, I’m sure I would visit with a financial advisor to determine the best plan. I would guess helping others in need in our community would play a part in that, but also putting that money to use in a way that allows it to benefit my family and others for generations to come.”

 

Q

Who is your best friend and why?

A

“My mother was my best friend because of her simple, non-judgmental and supportive role in my life. Prior to her death in 2020, we spoke daily and there was nothing I could not share with her. She never hesitated to let me know her thoughts and opinions, but never tried to change my mind. She also had an uncanny mother’s instinct, knowing when I needed a phone call or text message. 

“My best friend, Orlando, also has the right words for the situation, which keeps me grounded, focused and less mindful of the opinions of others.”

 

Q

What’s your favorite song to sing when you’re alone?

A

 “Music is my go-to for everything. I’m the guy that can literally think of song lyrics for every situation and often don’t hesitate in using them in conversation. Probably something by Elton John, Billy Joel or Jerry Lee Lewis. Oldies are where it’s at!”

 

Q

 Where is your happy place, and why?

A

“Work is my happy place. Even when I have every intention of being off, I find myself showing up at the office or at City Hall, just to see how everyone is doing and if there is anything I can do to help. I guess I could be classified as a workaholic.

“As I’m getting older, I am diligently attempting to find a better work, home, play balance, but it isn’t easy. I truly believe we can become codependent on work, so I am gradually learning that I can step away at times.”

Submitted photo

Robert Noblin dressed up as Dr. Suess’ Cat in the Hat during a Valencia County Fair parade.

Submitted photo

Robert Noblin is a member of four generations of his family, including his grandmother, Ann Mills Brooks. sitting; late mother, Ellen Marie Noblin, at right; and daughter, Karlie Noblin, left.

Q

Have you had a life-changing experience that led you to where you are today?

A

 “When I was attempting to obtain zoning for my crematory in 2014, the obstacles placed in my way by local officials, other businesses and even citizens were astounding. I persisted and my goal was reached. During this process, it became very clear that Belen’s local government was a bit ass-backwards. I wasn’t sure, at the time, how this could be changed, but I knew it just wasn’t right.  

“This experience led me on a journey into local politics. Today, Belen is business-friendly, and I try my hardest consistently to treat businesses the way I wished to be treated. 

“I am thankful to also work with an amazing governing body and city staff who follow suit in those endeavors. Excuses are simply no longer acceptable.”

 

Q

What teacher had the greatest impact on you?

A

“My high school band director, Ken Lipscomb, was a major influence. I played piano primarily by ear and ‘faked’ band class until the end of my sophomore year. It was then that Mr. Lipscomb advised that he knew, and he let it slide because his mother was a pianist who played primarily by ear; however, I needed to learn to read music. 

“I began piano lessons that summer — at the age of 16 — and it was exactly what I needed to merge technical skill with the emotion that comes from within, playing by ear.”

 

Q

What is your favorite movie scene and why?

A

 “I don’t really have a favorite movie or scene but in ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ the leap-of-faith scene when Miles jumps off the building and learns to trust himself is beautiful. It truly inspires me every time I watch it, and it was a brilliant idea to turn the camera upside down so it looks like he’s flying. Point of the story, sometimes we never are sure of who we are until we take the risk or leap.”

 

Q

 If you could have dinner with one famous person — dead or alive —  who would it be and why? 

A

 “I would love to have dinner with Rosa Parks. I realized a long time ago that we are all much more alike than we choose to believe; divided by silliness, polarized by our lack of initiative to have decent, personal conversations; lacking the desire to work together, to compromise. One doesn’t have to compromise their beliefs to be kind. 

 

Q

What are you most proud of? 

A

 “I am proud that I never gave up; coming to a new town, in a new state, as ‘the guy not from here.’ I never threw in the towel. It wasn’t for fame or fortune; it was for a passion within myself to follow my dream of helping others at their lowest. If I have made a small difference in the life of someone, I have accomplished it.”

 

Q

How would you like to be remembered?

A

 “Leadership is not a position or a title, it is action and example. Get out and make a difference; quit being a social media troll or a front porch politician. Be heard; if you believe in something, go to the moon and back to make it happen; nothing is impossible, and life is short.”

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.