ActivePaper Archive The man everyone knew, but didn’t know - Hobbs News Sun, 4/25/2019

The man everyone knew, but didn’t know

‘Broom man’ passes away at age 69


In this 2013 photo, EJ Stokes tries to get the attention of drivers to stop by a local business on Bender Boulevard. Stokes passed away on April 20. He was 69 years old.


Most Hobbsans know EJ Stokes, but never really knew who he was.

That’s because we never talked to him. We just we waved hello or goodbye as we drove by.

With his pointy broom in one hand and a smile on his blonde bushy face, Stokes, known to most of Hobbs has “broom man,” did everything he could to gain the attention of drivers as he danced and jumped on various corner streets advertising any number of businesses. Always sporting a bandana and sunglasses, Stokes looked like a skinny version of famed professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.

Last seen publicly on the corner of Turner and Grimes advertising for an election candidate for a local office, Stokes passed away Saturday in his home in southeast Hobbs. He was 69. On Tuesday his passing was shown on social media, causing a flurry of “sad” emojis and replies of “RIP.” His son, Emory Stokes, of Lubbock, said his father’s health had deteriorated over the past couple of months.

The Stokes family spent Wednesday afternoon going over options for funeral arrangements.

Stokes got the “EJ” from his actual name, Emery Stokes Jr. Emory said Wednesday he was supposed to be Emery Stokes III.

“But they spelled my name wrong,” he said. “I never bothered to get it changed. So I’m Emory with an ‘O’ not an ‘E.’”

Sadly, for most of Emory’s life his relationship with his father was less than what EJ’s relationship was with many of the Hobbsans he saw on a daily basis. In fact, EJ’s sister, Barbara, didn’t know much of her older brother of 15 years. Emory said EJ left home about a year after she was born and never kept in touch with his family.

“My grandfather, who my dad was named after, raised me,” Emory said. “My father and I were estranged for most of my life. When I was born my father was around 20 and not able to take care of a baby, so he and my mother gave me to my grandparents and they raised me. Barbara is technically my aunt, but she’s only four years older than me and is more like an older sister than anything else. I didn’t know the truth about my father until I was in my teens.”

Father and son began reconnecting in 2013 when EJ’s mother passed away. When EJ heard his mother was sick, he returned home to be with his her and then attended her funeral. Emory said the glue that brought him and his father together was the laughter they shared from EJ’s stories as Broom Man.

“Over the past three or four years that I’ve known him and reconnected, he talked about being the Broom Man,” Emory said. “He just loved it. I asked him once why he liked Hobbs and he told me he just loved Hobbs.”

EJ came to Hobbs in the late 1960s, early 70s because of the oilfield industry. He worked all the time and often found ways to get into trouble.

“Dad was a bit of a wild child,” Emory said. “He was always charismatic, but he found himself in trouble from time to time.”

Barbara’s daughter, Samantha Banks, only met her uncle twice, but she could tell how smart of a man EJ was.

“He’d make you think he was dumb, but he was a very smart man,” Samantha said. “I think people underestimated him a lot and he liked that.”

Barbara and Emory said EJ had a fiscal mindset and would have done well had his life turned out differently.

“Had he had the right opportunities in life, he could have been someone like Bill Gates,” Emory said. “He had all these great ideas. He just didn’t have a very good childhood.”

But he loved to make people laugh, Barbara and Emory said.

“Which is why he was good at being the Broom Man,” Barbara said.

By 2008, Stokes had become permanently disabled from a career in the oilfield. He became the Broom Man about that time when Callaway Furniture on North Grimes was closing. The business hired people to advertise on the sidewalk. EJ signed up and got more attention when he used his broom.

From then on, EJ was hired by several businesses. He was seen in front of a Mexican food restaurant on South Dal Paso near Snyder, or on Bender near Saturday’s. Most recently EJ was seen smiling and waving to southbound drivers turning from Turner onto Grimes.

His charisma is what Emory will miss most about his father. If there is a silver lining to their relationship, it’s that they finally got to have one in the past couple of years.

“I felt he deserved a better life,” Emory said as tears formed in his eyes. “I think he just got dealt a bad hand of cards. He deserved a better chance at life and I’m glad that I got the chance to get to know him a little bit.”