Loose Ends: Remembering Dr. Mullen

dollyviscardiKids come first. More than empty words, this credo of one life well-lived continues to be remembered long after the individual is gone.
Dr. Robert C. Mullen’s recent memorial at the Rangely Library’s sculpture installation reflects the respect and admiration he earned during his years as BOCES special education director and Rangley’s school superintendent. Artist Wendy Roberts’ “Books and Buddies” bronze shows so much more than two children enjoying a book together. Mullen’s enjoyment in life centered around others — his family, work, and church, and his zest for life was unequaled.
As a special education teacher at Meeker elementary during his tenure as BOCES director, I learned early that Bob’s sense of humor with the students, staff and parents was more than keeping things light and easy, it was an effective tool to ensure that everyone worked together. His joking usually put him in the hot seat and defused many difficult situations. His wide and varied experiences gave him the background and the ability to handle the different situations that arose day to day, but it was his zest for life that carried him through.
I remember one staff Christmas party where Bob wrote a parody of “The Night Before Christmas” and put all of his employees and their quirks into the poem. He was usually making fun, but it was not at the expense of others. The smiles on the faces of the children in the sculpture are special, not only because one of them is Bob’s granddaughter, but because most every encounter with Bob ended with a smile.
It is an understatement to say that Bob’s enthusiasm for life was catching. His ability to transform a tricky situation into a life lesson was wonderful to watch and did encourage the rest of us to try to do that in our own difficult situations. Bob Mullen not only continues to be remembered in both Meeker and Rangely — he is missed.