PALMETTO -- Faculty, community members and family gathered Thursday afternoon at Palmetto High School to honor one of its own. One who is lost but will never be forgotten.
Pat Mullins, the school's late library media specialist who died last year, was honored by The Manatee Association for Media in Education with a plaque and donation of library books to the school in his memory.
"We hope the students really enjoy these books. It was really a gift directly to the students who meant so much to Pat," said Marie Masferrer, MAME president and a library media specialist at Nolan Middle School. "We hope this small donation on our behalf will make a difference."
Mullins meant as much to her, other staff and faculty as he did to the students thus inspiring the presentation.
"I am here and still here because of Pat Mullins," Masferrer said. "My very first media assignment was very difficult...Pat said hang on, stick with it, we need you."
With teary eyes, she said she was grateful for his support and her decision to stay.
"I actually encounter children every day that I am so happy that I didn't give up. They need me no matter what background or where their life began," Masferrer said. "Our research skills and the digital systems that we offer them in our libraries is so critical to them."
The donated books, specifically chosen because they were written by one of Mullins' favorite authors, were the type of fiction he was known to enjoy or were about environmental science. Mullins had a passion for environmental science and MAME donors said they hoped the books will be of use to student aspiring to go into that field.
Mullins, 52, was reported missing Jan. 27, 2013, when he didn't come home after taking his boat out on the Braden River. His boat was found the following day near Egmont Key, but his remains were not recovered until Feb. 4 from near Emerson Point.
Jill Mullins, his wife and also a member of MAME, said she was honored by the presentation and gift to the children she said her husband loved so much. She smiled as she looked at his portrait hanging over the designated Pat Mullins reading area.
"I know there are some teachers that don't come in the library anymore because it hurts," Mullins said. "I hope now they can come in and feel good."
Library media specialist Reggie Bellamy accepted the gift of behalf of Palmetto High.
"This is an exceptional way to remember Mr. Mullins. The kids will be honored," Bellamy said. "Maybe we can get them to sit in his reading area so they can continue to be impacted."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.