The Community Learning Center of South San Francisco is now named after Gene Mullin, a longtime teacher, two-time mayor of South San Francisco and California assemblyman who died last year.
City leaders, educators and friends gathered at the center for a name change ceremony on Friday.
Gene Mullin taught social studies at South San Francisco High School for 32 years and served on city council during the planning of the Community Learning Center, which opened in 2001.
He helped direct the facilities’ programs toward family support, ESL classes, literacy programs, and after-school homework programs for local children.
“This will be a constant reminder of my father’s dedication to his South San Francisco community,” said Pro Tem Assembly President Kevin Mullin, Gene Mullin’s son.
Kevin Mullin said a public and memorial funeral service for his father was not held due to the pandemic. “But today is a perfect and appropriate tribute for a celebration of my father’s life and career,” he said.
Gene Mullin served on the City Council from 1995 until 2002, when he was elected to the Assembly representing the 19th District. During his six years in the Legislative Assembly, he earned a reputation for remarkable consistency as the only member to never miss a committee vote, casting around 11,000 votes during his service.
Among his other accomplishments, he served briefly in the U.S. military, coached basketball, helped lead his district’s teachers’ union, and served on several south San Francisco commissions. In 1991, he was recognized as San Mateo County Teacher of the Year.
“If you know the story of Gene Mullin, you can see the impacts all around you,” U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a statement. “Now you will be able to see it here in the center in the eyes of the school children.”
Mayor Mark Nagales said he had been a student of Gene Mullin, where he had to attend city council meetings as a duty. Later in life, Nagales said he often sought advice regarding difficult decisions from the city council.
“The reason I can stand before you today as mayor of South San Francisco is because of Gene,” Nagales said.
Joe Cotchett, a prominent Peninsula lawyer, also shared memories of his friendship with Gene Mullin. The two served in the military together and then played in the same basketball league at San Bruno, he said.
“I fell in love with the guy,” Cotchett said. “He was the furthest thing from a politician, he was a civil servant personified. He didn’t care about politics… Gene only cared about how the legislation would help local communities. The guy was something else.
The South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees approved the learning center’s renaming last year, shortly after Gene Mullin’s death. The center is located at 520 Tamarack Lane.
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