July 1, 2010
Hall of Fame Award goes to the man with
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
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
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.”