Marlo “Hap” Onn Vardeman, 75, passed away the morning of November 18, 2022, in Hobbs, NM. Born in Abilene, TX, on June 5, 1947, Hap was the third child of Armour Vardeman and Madge Phillips Vardeman. His older sisters were Gayla and Brady.
When Hap was 10, his family transferred to Artesia, NM, where he eventually became a standout linebacker at Artesia High. After helping Artesia cinch the 1964 State Football Championship, he earned a full-ride scholarship to Ft. Lewis College in Durango, CO. But the call to serve his country was stronger, and Hap soon left college to join the U.S. Marine Corps, serving from 1965-1969.
After returning home, he was accepted to the state’s newly organized New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy, where he became a member of its first graduating class in 1971. He then returned to Lea County, which he would call home for the next five decades. It was as a detective at Hobbs PD that he encountered the greatest challenge of his life. In Sept. 1973, he was struck by a car while riding a motorcycle. His right leg and hip suffered extensive damage, and he’d spend the next 1 ½ years in a succession of body casts, with numerous surgeries to follow throughout his life. In 1976, however, Hap returned to duty at Hobbs PD, followed by 6 years as a Special Agent to the Public Defender’s Office, NM 5th Judicial District. After a 5-year stint as a private investigator, Hap made the decision to return to law enforcement in 1988, working as a detective for the City of Lovington. In 1990, he moved to the Lea Co. Sheriff’s Office where he served in several capacities, including Criminal Investigator. In 2004, Hap was named that year’s Outstanding Public Safety Officer by the Hobbs Jaycees. He retired in 2011.
Hap’s greatest love in life, however, was reserved for family. He is survived by his wife Vicki; his sister Brady Vardemann; his daughters Shari (Jamey) Shipler and Nivea (Adrian) Muro; his stepchildren Jeremy (Angela) Soper, Bridget George, and Kyle (Rachel) Soper; along with 15 grandchildren and 1 great-grandson. He was preceded in death by his parents, his son Cody Vardeman, his sister Gayla Corley, his brother-in-law Charles Corley, and his nephew Charles Kendrick Corley.