COLLIER COUNTY — It was a good day for former Collier County Manager Jim Mudd.
Cheerful, albeit slightly pale, Mudd arrived armed with his usual high spirits and acid wit.
Monday morning, county officials dedicated the new Emergency Operations Center on Lely Cultural Parkway in Mudd’s name.
Ever the leader and organizer, Mudd even brought in his own special priest to lead the invocation: his brother, the Rev. Gerald Mudd, a Franciscan priest, flew down from Albany, N.Y.
Mudd, 57, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in March and resigned Sept. 29.
On the day he resigned, commissioners decided to name the new EOC for Mudd.
Lauded as a man of vision, integrity, action and honor, Mudd stood through several standing ovations during Monday’s dedication service.
When it was his time to speak, Mudd amused the some 350 who turned out to honor him.
He was reminded of advice given to him, and given by him, in years past, he said.
“Be brief. Be brilliant. And be gone,” Mudd said to laughter.
The retired U.S. Army Colonel — a Gulf War veteran — Mudd even used the word no one else wanted to utter: death.
Dedications to dead people are easier, he joked; the audience doesn’t have to listen to speeches, he stressed.
Stressing that his life has been about service, as are the people who work out of the new emergency operations center, Mudd said he was honored for his name to be on a building filled with people who are “constantly trying to help the citizens of my community.”
Collier Sheriff Kevin Rambosk has his 911 program headquartered in that structure.
“There isn’t an hour that goes by when (the Emergency Medical Services) paramedics are not answering calls,” Mudd said.
County manager from 2002 through Sept. 30, 2009, Mudd is a 1974 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He retired from the military as the commander and District Engineer of the U.S. Army Engineer District in Rock Island, Ill., a position he held from 1997 to 2000. He relocated to Collier County in October 2000.
County Manager Leo Ochs Jr. called Mudd a great leader, friend and personal mentor: a man of great character and great integrity.
After the dedication, which concluded with a rendition of “God Bless America,” Mudd’s cousin Mike, 57, reminisced about their childhood.
“We were always close,” Mike Mudd said. He flew in from Columbus, Ohio, for the ceremony.
“I wouldn’t miss this,” he said.
While Jim Mudd stood with dignity during a long receiving line, accompanied by his wife Toni, the senior county officials closest to Mudd steered clear of the crowds and averted their eyes during the ceremony.
Some stepped out of the building from time to time to collect their emotions.