Denfeld News

July 1, 2010
Duluth News Tribune

Hall of Fame Award goes to the man with the motto
By Lisa Baumann

The seven Duluthians nominated for the 85th Duluth Hall of Fame Award all deserved it, according to Mayor Don Ness at the award ceremonies Tuesday evening.

But only one of those nominated had a motto.

Patrick Plys, 46, seemed stunned when Ness announced that the person earning the honor was known for taking joy in serving others and for telling children, “Do the right thing when no one is looking.”

That’s been Plys’ line for years and it’s a mantra he’s lived from an early age, said his sister, Georgianne Sams of Duluth.

“He’s incredible,” she said at the event. “He’s just over-the-top as a person.”

A chef and owner of a food brokerage business, Plys Superior Consultants, in the past 10 years, Plys has been one of the main planners for the all-city Thanksgiving dinner at the DECC.

He also does some catering, Sams said, and has often provided food at funerals for people whose families would not otherwise be able to afford it.

Plys has worked on numerous projects, catering and otherwise, with the Minnesota National Guard 148th Fighter Wing, and organized the Down Up North Buddy Walk for Down syndrome, raising $40,000 last year. He helped start a school in Africa, visiting the site three times to oversee its construction. He has volunteered his time with youth soccer clubs, has taught curling and is a 17-year volunteer for Grandma’s Marathon.

Additionally, he’s a volunteer for the Duluth Air Show, Boys & Girls Club and is a board member of the Paul Staudenmaier Boys & Girls Club of Duluth Foundation.

“He just gives back to everyone,” Sams said. “He’s made our lives better by just being a part of it.”

Ness told the story of a time Plys was approached by a homeless man in downtown Duluth who was asking for change.

Instead of giving him a few spare dollars, Plys gave him a job and the man now has an apartment and volunteers at area events.

Even as he currently battles brain cancer, he thinks of others, Sams said.
She and her husband brought him flowers just a few weeks ago when he was rehabilitating from a stroke he suffered after undergoing brain surgery on May 19.

“He was concerned about another woman there who he said had no visitors,” Sams said. “He told us we needed to fill her room with flowers.”

Plys was using a wheelchair Tuesday and although his speech was affected by the stroke, Plys thanked God, his wife, kids and extended family — he’s the 10th in a family of eleven siblings.

“I’m speechless,” he then said. “Do the right thing when no one is watching. Amen.”

“Nothing I could say could top that,” Ness said in closing.

Guest speaker and former Mayor John Fedo said he likes this event because it celebrates Duluth’s best assets — its volunteers.

The event honoring volunteers, which is presented by the American Legion Post 28 and the city of Duluth, is the oldest of its kind in the nation, Ness said.

“Each one of our inductees has played an important role in (Duluth’s) history,” he said. “That is what has made Duluth a great city.”

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