Dear Arby, Louise, the board of directors and FAPT members,

Please let me take this opportunity to thank the board for recognizing me as the 2018 Pioneer of the Year at this year’s conference. It was a humbling evening for sure. I would also like to thank Jim Beekman, who, as I understand it, nominated me for the award. Jim has always been a leader and, more importantly, a true friend and supporter. The fact that he felt I deserved the nomination is very special to me. As a matter of fact, I always thought “WWJD” meant “what would Jim do”? I know when the time comes, he will step up on that stage to join the Pioneer club.

Let me say that second only to being recognized by your family, being recognized by your peers is one of the greatest joys of your lifetime. Who better than your peers understand what one might go through on a day-to-day basis? We loved, laughed and learned together. What a wonderful legacy FAPT can leave for the future.

I was humbled by the sheer number of people who stopped by our table to share with me how, through the years, I somehow touched their lives both personally and professionally. Sherry was amazed at the kindness shown to us that evening. The one real downside to retiring is that you lose contact with wonderful people like you all.

This was a big moment for my family and me. As I said during my remarks, “My family earned as much of the award as I did”, as they sacrificed significantly over the years, which, in turn, allowed me to serve the district for 40 years. FAPT was a very important part of our family life. For several years, attending the annual conference was our family vacation. I was proud that my boys grew up around other FAPT families.

The job that you all continue to do on behalf of the students and taxpayers of your communities is “Nulli Secundus”, second to none. May nothing but success and sunshine come your way.

I would like to close with an old Gaelic blessing that has always been special to me: “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

Remember, never end the day without telling someone that you love them. I love you all.

Sincerely,

Fred Murphy
Lakeland, Polk County, Florida