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RANGELY I Local artist Wendy Roberts said it was only fitting to memorialize longtime superintendent Robert Mullen in this way.
“He loved learning. He loved teaching. He loved books. And he loved his family,” Roberts said.
A bronze sculpture — created by Roberts and depicting two children reading books — was dedicated in a ceremony Saturday on the east side of the Rangely Library.
Mullen, who was superintendent of Rangely’s school district for 13 years, died in 2005, soon after his 65th birthday.
“Though he is not the subject matter of this memorial, there’s a lot about him in here,” Roberts said. “It’s appropriate that the subject be of children reading. … It shows Kaylee, his granddaughter, with a book in her lap of a story he used to tell. And it has my son Ben, reading a story about a fire-breathing dragon and a knight in shining armor. It shows pages 39 in the book that Ben is holding and will forever be on page 39, just as Bob forever told people that he was 39 years old.
“The amusements surrounding the children aren’t the electronic toys of today, but they are things of the past. A slingshot, a bag of marbles, a frog in the pocket, these things from Bob’s childhood,” Roberts said. “He will be remembered, and his family will be remembered.”
Members of Mullen’s family, including his wife, Celesta, who now lives in Grand Junction, his sons and his grandchildren attended Saturday’s ceremony.
“I appreciate Celesta, who has allowed me to be a part of this project,” Roberts said. “And I’m grateful to Amorette Hawkins (library director) for suggesting this sculpture and introducing me to this wonderful family.”
The bronze sculpture was paid for by a memorial fund in Mullen’s name, with financial help from the Rangely Library.
“It has been a very cool project,” said library director Hawkins. “(Mullen) was an avid reader and even authored a book himself.”
Nick Lancaster, a 1990 graduate of Rangely High School and now an assistant football coach, talked about the impact superintendent Mullen had on his life.
“I’ve known the Mullen family since I was an eighth-grader,” Lancaster said. “This family has been all over. They started out in North Dakota, were up in Alaska, went down to Kansas, but they found their home here. We buried our brothers together. We buried our fathers together. It doesn’t get any tighter than that.
“This Mullen family … they are humble people,” Lancaster said. “Dr. Mullen did a lot for this community. That’s why I think it’s great they did this. We need some pride back in this community. It’s been gone for about 15 years. But it’s coming back. And these people are part of it. Dr Mullen … he inspired me. I just want to say I’m honored to know the Mullen family.”